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Aidan Hadaway (10) forward on Ohio University's Mens Basketball team celebrates after a made three pointer at The Convo, in Athens, Dec. 6, 2023.

Men’s Basketball: Ohio’s depth proves key in conference victory 

Ohio (8-9, 2-3 Mid-American Conference) entered its matchup with Central Michigan (8-9, 3-2 MAC) at an underwhelming 1-3 conference record to start MAC action. Not only that, but Ohio also entered the game with two of its most impactful starters, AJ Brown and Elmore James, sidelined due to injuries. In their absence, Ohio found a way to come through with one of its most dominant victories this season by a margin of 73-61. 

James, who was injured in Ohio’s game against Western Michigan over the weekend, was the team's top rebounder and also contributed 12.3 points per game so far this season. On the other hand, AJ Brown has already missed a handful of games for the Bobcats and has officially been ruled out for the season. 

“Multiple guys have to replace (James); you’re not going to replace (his production) with one guy,” Ohio coach Jeff Boals said.

While Aidan Hadaway has already stepped into a starting role for the injured AJ Brown, the veteran Miles Brown found his way back into the starting lineup against Central Michigan in place of the injured James. 

“This is my fifth year; I’ve been in just about every position that you can imagine,” Miles Brown said. “From being hurt on the sideline to coming off the bench to starting, I mean, this has been like a little rollercoaster, but I’m ready whenever my number is called.”

Miles Brown is a fifth-year senior for Ohio who has seen playing time all five years of his Ohio career. Miles Brown was a starter on opening night for the Bobcats before suffering an injury in the season's first game. The guard has seen considerable playing time since his return off the bench against Defiance, but it wasn’t until Tuesday night that he found himself back in the starting lineup. 

Miles Brown delivered a big game for the Bobcats with 17 points, including 13 first-half points en route to a 12-point halftime lead for the team. 

“I think this is the healthiest that he’s been all year,” Boals said. “He’s a fifth-year senior; he’s been in our program the longest. We definitely needed his output tonight, and I thought he was really good on both ends.”

Coming out of halftime, while the offense kept pace, it was the defense that propelled the team to victory. 

Central Michigan's 61 points are the fewest that Ohio has allowed in a MAC game this season. That defensive effort would not have been the same without the likes of Hadaway, who has also been thrust into a new role this season. 

“I got to give a lot to my teammates; they pass me the ball at the right times,” Hadaway said. “I’m not the craftiest player, but I get in the right spots and try to capitalize off of that.”

Eight players saw time for Ohio against Central Michigan, with 3 players coming in off the bench in relief of the 5 starters. Ajay Sheldon has also stepped up as one of Ohio’s top scorers off the bench over the last couple of games, while players like Miles Brown and Hadaway see time in the starting lineup. 

Sheldon has shot 52% from the 3-point line so far this season and has averaged 7.6 points per game in conference play. 

With AJ Brown out for the season and no announced timetable for the injured James, players like Miles Brown, Hadaway and Sheldon will have to continue to step up for Ohio to succeed in the competitive MAC. 

“The eight guys who played, they’re going to be the eight guys playing moving forward,” Boals said. “I thought all three guys off the bench contributed in different ways, it might not be scoring but it might be a defensive stop or rebounding a 50/50 ball, and they play for each other. I thought it was a great game without Elmore (James) being in there.”


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