Ohio University hasn’t been exactly the team that dominated regular season play in the MAC for the last two years, but the Bobcats are still plenty good.
Kent State travels to Athens Saturday to play OU, which is 12-3 and 3-1 in the MAC. Ohio is 7-0 at home; Kent State (7-9. 1-3 MAC) is 2-4 in road games this season.
OU has won the MAC regular season championship two years in a row, though it couldn’t beat Buffalo in three tries last season, including the MAC tournament.
The Bobcats are eighth is the most recent Mid-Major Top 25. (Buffalo is 12th, Central Michigan 19th and Toledo 24th.) Their RPI is best in the MAC at 62 (of 349 teams). Buffalo is 63, Central Michigan 91, Toledo 95 and Northern Illinois 99. Kent State is 188.
The Bobcats’ offense is built around three-point shooting. They still make more three-point shots (8.3 a game) than anyone in the conference, but their shooting percentage for three-pointers is just 29.1 percent, almost 11 points lower than a year ago. A good part of that is the graduation of Kiyanna Black, one of the great three-point shooters in MAC history.
Ohio’s strength this season has been defense. The Bobcats are third in the conference in points allowed (60.1 per game) and first in field goal defense (35.4).
Kent State’s numbers are far worse. The Flashes are 11th in the league in overall defense (73.3) and last in field goal defense (43.1 percent).
KSU gave up a ton of points Tuesday in a 98-97 loss to Northern Illinois. So did OU when it lost at Northern 88-80 a week ago.
Ohio is led by 5-9 senior guard Quiera Lampkins, a preseason all-MAC East selection who is second in the conference (to Kent State’s Larissa Lurken) in scoring with a 19.8 average. Lampkins was a high school teammate of KSU reserve forward Zenobia Bess at Gahanna Lincoln.
The Bobcats also are getting a strong year from 6-2 senior forward Jasmine Weatherspoon, who is tied for fourth in the conference in rebounding at 8.5 points a game and is tied for first in blocks at 1.9 per game.
But after Weatherspoon, Ohio struggles at rebounding. OU is a distant last in the MAC in rebounding margin at -6.8 and in a sort-of esoteric statistic called rebounding percentage — which is the percent of possible offensive and defensive rebounding a team gets. The Bobcats are last in both categories.
Kent State is sixth in rebounding margin in the conference (+2.8) and fifth in defensive rebounding percentage, and sixth in offensive percentage. The Flashes have done pretty well this season when they could dominate another team in the post. A key matchup Saturday will be Kent’s 6-2 forward Jordan Korinek, who’s scored 47 points in her last two games, against Weatherspoon.
KSU’s McKenna Stephens also has had a very good stretch of games. She’s scored in double figures five of her last seven games, made 52 percent of her shots and averaged 6.7 rebounds over that time. The Flashes have been looking for a third consistent scorer all season; they have have found her.
Lurken, of course, continues to dominate the statistical line for Kent State. Besides leading the league in scoring at 22.8, she’s in the 15 in the league in rebounding (11th at 6.8 per game), defensive rebounding (sixth at 5.2), free throw percentage (ninth at 80.1), steals (14th at 1.7 per game), three-point percentage (10th at 37.8), three-pointers per game (seventh at 2.3), blocked shots (seventh at 1.1) and minutes played (fourth at 35.8). She leads the nation in free throws made and taken.
To follow the OU game
Online video starts at 1 p.m. on the ESPN3. (To watch, you’ll need to have a subscription to ESPN through cable.)
Audio at about 12:45 on Golden Flash iHeart radio.
Live statistics are available through the Ohio website.
In-game updates on Twitter at @KentStatwbb.
Current Kent State statistics, including links to schedule/results and roster.
MAC statistics, including standings.