Feb. 18, 2017
The focus for Ohio Bobcats Coach Saul Phillips and his team is simple.
“All we’re trying to do is get to Cleveland,” said Phillips, the site of next month’s Mid-American Conference Tournament. “And avoid playing a play-in game.”
Amid the race for the top seed in the MAC Tournament, Ohio guard Jaaron Simmons scored 26 points to lead the Bobcats over Bowling Green 95-75 for their third straight win on Saturday at The Convo.
With Ohio sitting three games behind top-seed Akron, and half a game above the Buffalo Bulls in the conference, this game was pivotal for the Bobcats who look to eclipse Akron’s position.
The Bobcats (16-8, 8-5 MAC) have not won at home against the Falcons (11-15, 5-8 MAC) since Feb. 9, 2013. However, the Falcons received their first loss at the Convo in four seasons, a convincing win that showcased Simmons’ scoring ability.
In addition to Simmons’ contributions, five other players scored in double figures for the Bobcats. Forward Jason Carter had one of his better games with 19 points, five rebounds, and two blocks.
Simmons ignited the Bobcats’ offense, which struggled to gain separation from the Falcons heading into the second half.
However, Simmons’ aggressive play created open shots from the outside, and opportunities for players to penetrate for easy buckets.
With Simmons as the offensive catalyst, the Bobcats went on a 22-8 run at the start of the second half, and would maintain their double digit lead throughout the remainder of the game.
“Simmons is a load,” said Falcons Coach Michael Huger. “He’s difficult to defend.”
Collectively, this was arguably the most efficient offensive performance the Bobcats have played all season. They capitalized on the Falcon’s defensive lapses, shooting 62.7 percent from the floor and 45.8 percent from beyond the arch.
“With the MAC Tournament coming up,” said Simmons. “This is the time you want to be your best.”
The Bobcats play at Miami next Tuesday and at Kent State next Saturday. Then, the Bobcats play a key game on Feb. 28 when they host Buffalo.
The MAC Tournament starts March 6 at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland.