Still a ‘Miracle on Ice’

Tsuj’s Ten: College basketball, 2/23


UB Bulls vs. Ohio Bobcats live-blog

Photo by Dave Marino

blog by Ben Tsujimoto  • 

———————-Final, 88-77 Ohio———————-

:09—TJ Hall hits two free throws, then Filzen hits a 30+ footer! The buzzer sounds, and this one’s in the books.

:22—Cooper will shoot two more. He has 18 points for the evening; Cooper and Offutt, paired with exceptional offensive rebounding from the Bobcats, have turned this game into a surprising blowout in favor of the visitors. The Bulls will fall into a second place tie with Kent State, failing to capitalize on the Golden Flashes’ upset loss to Miami (OH) last night.

:42—84-69 Ohio after Cooper’s two makes. Barnett’s three is good from the left wing, cutting the margin to 12 with 25 seconds left. Groce calls a timeout to make sure Ohio doesn’t suffer some kind of epic collapse.

1:18—Trailing by 17, I’m not sure why the Bulls are still fouling. Tremendous block by Mitchell Watt on Walter Offutt, and Javon McCrea puts back an Oldham miss. 82-69 now, and Oldham fouls Cooper. Is there any hope? I don’t think so.

1:39—Cooper hits two from the line for Ohio. 82-65 Bobcats after Mitchell Watt adds a meaningless hoop off an Oldham feed. Reggie Witherspoon calls a timeout—there doesn’t appear to be much emotion in the Bulls huddle, as blank stares abound. D.J. Cooper turns the ball over trying to break the Bulls’ press by stepping on the sideline.

1:55—Ohio has dismantled the Bulls tonight in convincing fashion. Quicker to the glass, more accurate from outside and more cognizant of their coach’s plan, the Bobcats are putting on a clinic at Alumni Arena. The 21 offensive rebounds is the eye-popping stat for Ohio, and it has to be disheartening for the Bulls to see the majority of the fans leaving the arena early.

2:33—TJ Hall with another offensive rebound for Ohio—and a brand-new shot clock. Titus Robinson fouls Walter Offutt 25-feet from the basket, and Offutt will look to add to his game-high 21 points. The first swishes through. Second is good too.

3:06—Under four timeout, 76-62 Ohio. The crowd is slowly filing out of Alumni Arena, largely in agreement that this game is in the books. A baffling 20 offensive rebounds for Ohio tonight—Baltic has six, Offutt four.

3:45—73-62 Ohio. 21 points on the evening for Offutt. Filzen is 2-10 from downtown tonight. 1-3-1 defense by the Bulls to try to force some turnovers. D.J. Cooper drills another three pointer, and the lead is up to 14 for the Bobcats. Oldham swings the ball cross-court, and Zach Filzen can’t bring it in. Yet another Bulls turnover. 

4:55 —Hall cans the free throw. Tony Watson II’s three-pointer is way to the left, and Ohio rebounds. Cooper runs clock on the perimeter as we close in on four minutes left. Cooper slithers into the lane and kicks the ball out to Offutt, who patiently drains the three with the shot clock at 2. Filzen swishes a three from the top of the key, and Reggie Witherspoon calls a timeout.

4:56 —TJ Hall will shoot the bonus free throw for Ohio after Tony Watson II shoots the two technicals for Buffalo. His first is good. So is the second. Hall will now shoot his single free throw. 69-59 Ohio leads.

5:33—A long two by Baltic is too hard, but Watt’s post feed for McCrea is another turnover. Oldham blocks Cooper’s runner down the right side of the lane, but Baltic’s there for the loose ball. Terrific touch pass from Walter Offutt to Reggie Keely for a violent and-one dunk! There’s a technical foul called on Keely for hanging on the rim, however. Keely has fouled out.

6:10—67-57 Ohio. Kellogg’s step-back three is an airball as the shot clock expires. Ohio in zone. Foul on Reggie Keely, his fourth and the eighth team foul. McCrea shoots one and one from the line. It’s no good, and Keely boards. Missed opportunity there.

7:17—Chants of “Ref you suck!” echo throughout the arena, and DJ Cooper gets away with a travel before he finds Walter Offutt for a three—that’s good! The officials are certainly making life easy for John Groce’s squad tonight. On Robinson’s technical foul, he was likely punished for slapping the backboard after pulling himself up on the rim. Reggie Witherspoon gestured wildly in disbelief, clearly in disagreement with the officials’ decision.

7:53—Robinson hits two from the line, and he’s in double figures with 11. 62-55 Bobcats. Keely goes right at Watt, but he misses his shot badly and Robinson rebounds. Turnaround hook shot by Watt rolls off the rim, but Titus Robinson is there for the put-back jam! He’s called for a technical foul for hanging on the rim and slapping the backboard, however, and Nick Kellogg calmly puts in both technical free throws.

7:53—Ohio has attempted 20 more shots from the floor than the Bulls, and the Bobcats have 20 second chance points and a ridiculous 18 offensive rebounds. Groce’s team has only committed seven turnovers, too, and Ohio has converted UB’s 11 giveaways into 10 points. It’s tough to find a statistic that’s in the Bulls’ favor right now.

7:53—Under eight timeout, 62-53 Bobcats. Ohio’s Jon Smith fouls out of the game, and Buffalo will shoot free throws again after the media timeout.

8:43—Blocking foul called on Oldham, and True Blue vehemently disagrees. It looked like the Bulls’ point guard was still moving his feet as Cooper barged into Oldham, so I think it’s a good call. Three straight offensive rebounds finally result in a put-back by Jon Smith. The Bobcats simply have more numbers attacking the glass than the Bulls, and it’s hard to combat second and third chances.

9:00—A good entry pass into the paint for Mitchell Watt draws another foul, this one the third on Baltic. Watt’s first free throw is no good. Offutt and Jon Smith re-enter the game for Ohio. The second rattles in, and it’s 60-53 Ohio after an 8-0 Bulls’ run.

9:45—Buffalo’s quick 5-0 spurt is a good sign, but the Bulls need to sustain the momentum. Reggie Keely misses two chances inside five feet, and finally Titus Robinson rips down the rebound. Jarod Oldham flies down the lane for a layup, and Buffalo is flying right now!

10:29—Jarod Oldham responds with a three from the left wing—oddly, he’s been the team’s most accurate shooter from downtown tonight. A missed three by Stevie Taylor from the left wing, and Buffalo has a chance to cut into the Bobcat lead. Barnett drives baseline—misses a dunk, but he collects his offensive rebound and scores on the opposite side. 60-50 Ohio leads, and Bobcats’ head coach John Groce signals for a timeout.

11:46—Watt’s first free throw is good, and so is his second. Offutt blows by Barnett, and there’s no weakside help as Offutt coasts to the rim for a lay-in. McCrea’s left handed flip doesn’t fall, and Reggie Keely’s boxes out well—the ball is out of bounds to Ohio. Kellogg’s three around a ball-screen is good, and it’s a 15-point Ohio lead.

11:46—Under 12 timeout, 55-43 Ohio. TJ Hall, Walter Offutt and Ivo Baltic all have seven rebounds for the Bobcats, who’ve opened up their rebounding advantage to 32-24. Teams are overloading the weak-side against the Bulls for put-back chances, and it’s worked wonderfully for both South Dakota State and Ohio.

11:49—Great chance inside for a three-point play for Mitchell Watt, but his lefty scoop rolls around the rim and out. Foul on Stevie Taylor of Ohio, and Watt will shoot two free throws after the media timeout.

12:48—Loose ball foul on Jarod Oldham after a missed three by Tony Watson II. TJ Hall’s three-pointer won’t stay down, and Oldham snags the board. Baltic misses a jumper for Ohio, and Buffalo’s back in possession.

13:59—Robinson calmly sinks the first. McCrea heads to the pine in favor of Watt. Robinson swishes the second as well—he’s got nine points for the game. Cooper splits the double team and finds Baltic for an open three—that’s an airball, too—but TJ Hall beats Robinson to the rebound. Baltic scores on a put-back slam, Filzen clangs a three, and Cooper whips a no-look pass to TJ Hall for an easy lay-in. 55-43 Ohio, and this one is getting ugly fast.

14:46—Javon McCrea drew a foul and hit one of two from the free throw line. Baltic’s kickout to Kellogg gives the red-hot guard and open look, but this one’s an airball from Kellogg. Baltic saves it and McCrea punches it out of bounds. Great look from Oldham into Titus Robinson on the left block, and even though the senior can’t score against the contact, he’ll shoot two more from the line.

15:21—Titus Robinson shoots two free throws for Buffalo coming out of the media timeout. His first rolls around the rim and off. The second swishes through. Airballed hook shot by Baltic, but Walter Offutt beats Watson II badly to the glass and lays in the put-back. Baltic is an exceptional athlete, and the former Ohio State Buckeye showed his quickness on that play.

15:21—Under 16 timeout, 49-39 Ohio. Scoreless in the first half, Kellogg has exploded for eight of his team’s 12 points in the 4:39 since the break.

15:30—Ohio is amid a 10-0 run, and 6’3 sophomore Nick Kellogg has been the primary spark. Titus Robinson attacks the rim off the dribble, and Reggie Keely wraps him up—another foul, Keely’s third of the evening.

16:15—Jon Smith picks up his third foul after McCrea shoveled a pass to his frontcourt mate Titus Robinson in the lane. Dave Barnett’s three from the right wing glances off the rim, and Titus Robinson’s acrobatic put-back doesn’t drop. Ohio ball. Reggie Keely beats the Bulls’ bigs to the offensive glass and puts in a rebound of D.J. Cooper’s missed floater. 49-39 Ohio, and Reggie Witherspoon calls a timeout.

16:43—Jarod Oldham throws a long in-bound pass from under his basket to the Bulls’ side of the floor—unfortunately, Oldham puts too much air on the pass, Kellogg picks it off and scores off glass plus the foul on Barnett! An embarrassing chain of events for Barnett, and suddenly Ohio’s lead is eight after Kellogg’s eruption.

17:00—Kellogg drives directly at Watt, who’s forced to foul him. Second on Watt, and Kellogg knocks down the first. McCrea returns for Watt. Second free throw is good too for Kellogg, who’s been lights out so far in the second half.

18:13—Robinson enters the game for McCrea. Oldham misses a runner on the first shot attempt of the trip, but the ball caroms off the rim to Watt, who makes no mistake with the put-back. 39-39! Barnett can’t keep pace with Nick Kellogg on an in-bounds play, and the Ohio guard makes Barnett pay by nailing a three. Filzen’s runner is no good, but Titus Robinson hustles after the offensive board. Filzen misses a 25-foot three, and then Ohio races to the other end.

19:05—Baltic drills a 10-footer from the right wing. Sophomore point guard Jarod Oldham drills a wide-open three from the left wing after he’s left all alone. Opponents have been daring him to shoot, and it’s great to see him hit one. Nick Kellogg attempts a three after another kickout, and McCrea engulfs the rebound. Javon scores off glass at the other end, and a botched inbounds by Ohio gives the ball back to Buffalo. 39-37 Ohio.

19:53—Ohio comes out in man-to-man after the break, and Zach Filzen wraps around a few downscreens before popping out behind the arc for three—it’s off the front rim and off the backboard—no good. Baltic kicks out to Cooper for a three-point attempt, and it rattles in and out. Dave Barnett’s starting this half, but he turns the ball over.

Halftime—Today is Reggie Witherspoon’s birthday! True Blue sings (read: yells) “happy birthday” in the coach’s direction.

Halftime—For the second straight game, the Bulls’ bread-and-butter statistic—rebounds—pales in comparison to the opponent. The Jackrabbits from SDSU were a +9 in rebounding margin in the BracketBuster against Buffalo in the first half, and currently Ohio is + 5, including a whopping 10 offensive rebounds. At times, the Bulls’ rebounders were guilty of simply not having their hands in the air when in rebounding position.

Halftime—McCrea and Watt both pace the Bulls with 10 points in the first half. Offutt and Cooper each dropped 11 for Ohio. Buffalo hit only 2 of 13 three-pointers in the first half, but that didn’t stop Watson II and Filzen from attempting a barrage of long-distance shots early in the shot clock. Most of Watson II’s looks were open, but they wouldn’t stay down.

—————————-Halftime, 37-32 Ohio—————————-

:10—Powerful slam by Titus Robinson on a put-back after a missed lay-up. Good to see the senior forward go back up with authority rather than demonstrate the timidness that he showed for his first three years as a Bull. The impressive dunk brings Buffalo back within five, and D.J. Cooper can’t release his three in time at the halftime buzzer.

:43—Cooper sinks the first free throw and the second. Seven point lead for Ohio is the team’s biggest, and Reggie Witherspoon signals for a 30-second timeout. Buffalo has received virtually nothing from its backcourt tonight—Filzen, Watson II, Nuiriankh and Oldham are a combined 2-10 shooting, six points and four assists.

1:02—Good trap on the baseline by the Bulls forces D.J. Cooper to step out of bounds. Auraum Nuiriankh’s travel gives the ball back to Ohio, however, and D.J. Cooper glides down the left side of the lane and draws a foul on McCrea. Cooper shoots two from the stripe. 35-30 Ohio.

1:20—Buffalo gives the ball right back, as Mitchell Watt is trapped in the paint, and he blindly throws a pass out to Filzen on the perimeter, but he doesn’t see it until it’s already bounced past the mid-court line. There’s considerable debate by both Groce and Witherspoon, but the latter has spent much of the first half seated on the Bulls’ bench.

2:34—Watt shoots one-and-one from the line for the Bulls. The first drops through to tie the game at 29, and the second gives Buffalo a one point lead. Ohio’s offense—a nice high ball screen—leads to a three from the right corner by Offutt—it’s good! Filzen tries to answer from three, but it won’t drop. Offutt hits a trey from the left wing again, and it’s suddenly 35-30 Ohio.

2:34—Under four timeout, 29-28 Ohio. The Bobcats are out-rebounding the Bulls 19-16, but Ohio’s eight team fouls already have the Bulls in the one-and-one. Only four fouls on Buffalo—the Bulls have a few to give before Ohio shoots free throws. McCrea is the only player in the game with double-figures, and he’s 5-5 from the floor.

2:47—Mitchell Watt responds with a seven-footer off glass to stop Ohio’s surge. On the next possession, a foul is called on T.J. Hall, and that brings us to the under four timeout.

4:12—Baltic dribbles off his toe to Buffalo, but the Bulls can’t convert off the turnover. D.J. Cooper pulls up for three in transition—it’s good! Zach Filzen misses a deep three early in the shot clock. After two offensive rebounds by Ohio, D.J. Cooper whips a no-look pass sidearm to TJ Hall unguarded under the rim. Easy hoop, and a great find by Ohio’s star.

5:43—Keely picks up an offensive foul, his second personal of the game! Ivo Baltic returns to the lineup with two fouls. Desperate times for the Ohio bigs—Tony Watson II misses another three—they’re giving him open looks—but Offutt clanks one from deep at the other end too. Barnett dribbles forward only to collide with Offutt—charge on Barnett. 26-24 Buffalo.

6:01—Cooper fires away with a contested three from the right wing—it’s long off the back rim, and McCrea swallows up the rebound. Titus Robinson draws a foul on Reggie Keely—yet another foul on an Ohio big—and he sinks the first from the line. The second is good too—an encouraging sign after Robinson was horrific from the line late in the Western Michigan game.

7:11 —Nice step-through by Ohio’s Reggie Keely after he pivoted several times on the left block. His patience was rewarded with an easy lay-up. Trapped under the Ohio basket, Mitchell Watt wrapped a blind pass around his defender to find McCrea for a slam. At the other end, McCrea swatted Keely, and then Mitchell Watt earned a fortuitous extra step to the basket for another lay-in! 24-24 tie—the momentum is unquestionably in Buffalo’s favor, however, as John Groce calls a timeout.

7:48—Zach Filzen returns to the lineup for Buffalo. Barnett, McCrea, Watt and Watson II join him. Nice bounce pass through defenders by Tony Watson II to McCrea allows him to jump-stop in the lane and finish off the backboard with his right. 22-20 Ohio.

7:48—Under eight timeout, 22-18 Ohio. The Bobcats lead by four, but foul trouble is already rearing its ugly head for Ohio’s big men. Both starters—Jon Smith and Ivo Baltic are on the bench with two fouls apiece. We’ll see a lot of Reggie Keely and TyQuane Goard for the rest of the half.

8:22—Barnett misses a good look from three, and Stevie Taylor takes the ball coast to coast for a Bobcat layup. Tony Watson II bricks a three, and Taylor tries to dart down to the other end himself, but this time, his shot is wild. Watson II lines up another three-pointer, and it’s not good again. Mitch Watt wins position for the rebound and draws a loose ball foul on Jon Smith—his second, too.

8:50—Javon McCrea arrives on help defense to block TJ Hall’s put-back attempt, and then Dave Barnett draws an offensive foul on Ohio’s Baltic—his second foul.

9:31—Ivo Baltic blows by Mitchell Watt on the baseline and whisks the ball of the window for a Bobcat bucket. 20-15 Ohio, but Tony Watson II’s rainbow three swishes through the net, and it’s back to a two point game.

10:17—Cooper’s floater in the lane is no good, and Watson II rebounds. A very soft charge call on Titus Robinson, who spun into Ivo Baltic but barely touched him—the 6’8 junior for Ohio fell to the court like a sack of potatoes, winning the call. The Bulls’ faithful was not pleased with that decision by the referee. “I’m blind, I’m deaf, I want to be a ref!” is the chant.

11:43—McCrea and Oldham return to the lineup for Buffalo. Ohio shows a 2-3 zone, and Tony Watson II arcs a three over the defense, but it’s no good. Ivo Baltic rushes the ball down the floor for Ohio and scores off the window. TyQuane Goard steps in front of a Dave Barnett pass for a steal, and TJ Hall lays in Goard’s miss in transition. Barnett’s three is long, and Cooper rebounds.

11:45—Under 12 timeout, 15-14 Buffalo. The Bulls lost a bit of their swagger once McCrea and Oldham left the lineup for the second unit. Ten of UB’s 15 points have come from the paint, and the Bulls have five assists on six buckets. Both McCrea and D.J. Cooper have six points to lead all scorers.

13:06—Filzen takes a hand-off along the perimeter and steps into a three—it’s no good, and Cam Downing has an uncontested look at a put-back, but he misses the gimme. The ball is given back to Buffalo after a loose ball scrum, but Jon Smith swats Downing’s second attempt under the hoop. Dave Barnett misses a disastrous reverse layup, but then freshman Steve Taylor blows a lay-up for Ohio. It’s getting sloppy at Alumni!

14:02 —Pretty drop-step by Titus Robinson on the left side of the lane—it’s good for a layup off glass. Good strength from Cam Downing bodying up his man on the next trip for Ohio. Dave Barnett and Tony Watson II in now for Buffalo too. Walter Offutt drains a three from the left wing off a dish from Cooper.

14:26—Under 16 timeout, 13-10 Buffalo. Buffalo’s connected on five of six shots from the floor so far, and all but Filzen’s three-pointer have come within five feet of the hoop. Cameron Downing and Titus Robinson enter the ball-game for Buffalo during the first media timeout. Cooper hits the and-one free throw, and it’s 13-11.

14:43—McCrea draws two defenders on him on the left block, and he deftly dishes a pass out to Filzen spotted up in the left corner—the senior shooting guard’s open look falls from three! Cooper, however, takes on Nuiriankh, absorbs contact and scores—plus the foul. Another good response by Ohio after a momentum shift in UB’s favor.

15:58—Cooper misses a three from the deep right corner, and it bounces high off the rim and into Javon McCrea’s hands. Mitchell Watt explodes across the lane, gathers a pass from Oldham and scores again inside. Cooper responds with a bounce pass to the left block to Reggie Keely for a hoop. 10-8 Bulls.

17:14—Filzen’s straight on three is off to the right, but Offutt’s out-of-rhythm three won’t fall either. Jarod Oldham darts into the lane and whips a pass to Javon McCrea camped out underneath. Oldham hurries back after the make to strip Cooper’s foray through the lane. Great bounce pass by Oldham into the lane to McCrea, and he dashes down the lane for a high left handed layup.

17:42—McCrea’s turnover—he was pinned against the far sideline with no options—leads to a transition hoop for Ohio’s Walter Offutt. On the next trip, Nuiriankh concedes possession and Ivo Baltic draws a shooting foul. His first FT barely grazes the rim, however. 5-4 Ohio.

18:18—Fadeaway three by Cooper is no good, but Cooper picks Oldham’s pocket in the backcourt—Oldham recovers quickly however to chase down Cooper and reject his layup. Baltic grabs the offensive rebound for Ohio, but instead of shooting, he oddly bullets a pass at the foot of a teammate—it glances out of bounds, and Cooper stares bullets through Baltic for not shooting.

18:54—D.J. Cooper drains a set-shot three pointer over Jarod Oldham on the right wing, however, after Mitchell Watt’s post defense forced a kickout from Baltic. Running the same high-low play as their first bucket, Watt gathered McCrea’s pass and was fouled by Nick Kellogg. His first is good, but his second misses. Fortunately for Buffalo, there’s a lane violation called on John Groce’s team. 4-3 Bulls after the second make.

20:00—Jon Smith and Watt jump to start the game—Ohio wins the tip. Buffalo in man-to-man to begin the game. Baltic’s turnaround jumper is no good—rebound Nuiriankh. McCrea finds Watt cutting backdoor for a vicious dunk for UB’s first bucket! 2-0 Buffalo.

Pre-game—Ivo Baltic, Walter Offutt, DJ Cooper, Jon Smith and Nick Kellogg are the starters for the Bobcats. Jarod Oldham, Mitchell Watt, Auraum Nuiriankh, Javon McCrea and Zach Filzen start for Buffalo. The Bulls wear their home whites with blue numbers, while the Bobcats don their forest green uniforms with white names and numbers.

Key Players:

Buffalo: Javon McCrea—It’s been some time since we’ve seen a true outburst from Javon McCrea, even if he still leads the team with 15 points per game.

Ohio: D.J. Cooper—While his defense is still a work in progress, the diminutive Cooper is the Bobcats’ unquestioned floor leader with NCAA Tournament experience. Jarod Oldham will have his hands full tonight.

Pre-game—In the True Blue student section, there are already several large posters of Bobcats’ star D.J. Cooper wearing a bra. His choice is still rather inexplicable, but opposing fan-bases everywhere are grateful for the ammunition.

Pre-game—After an exhausting trip to Brookings, South Dakota for the ESPN BracketBuster against South Dakota State, the Bulls return to their home floor tonight against the Ohio Bobcats (8-4 in MAC East). Reggie Witherspoon’s squad didn’t land in Buffalo until 8:30 p.m. Sunday night after leaving Amherst late Thursday night. Will all the long weekend take a toll on the Bulls’ legs tonight?

Pre-game—Why is solidifying the #2 seed so important for the Bulls? The top two seeds from the MAC regular season receive two byes in the conference tournament—advancing immediately to the semifinals. With the amount of parity in the conference, avoiding a quarterfinal game is vital for Buffalo’s championship dreams. If the Bulls finish third in the MAC, they must win three games on three straight days in the MAC Tournament for an NCAA Tournament berth.

Pre-game—The UB Bulls have reaped the benefits of talent and a little good fortune. At 9-3 in the Mid-American Conference East Division, the Bulls (9-3) stand a half-game ahead of Kent State (9-4), who fell in a shocker against Miami (OH) last night.

TAGGED: college basketball, dj cooper, javon mccrea, mac basketball, ohio bobcats, ub bulls, university at buffalo, zach filzen

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