Bobcats bury Thundering Herd
ATHENS, Ohio -- Believe it or not, it could have been worse.
Ohio took its star player out of the game with nearly five minutes left to play, or it might have been.
D.J. Cooper's all-around performance Saturday afternoon led the Ohio men's basketball team in a big blowout of Marshall, 94-57, played in front of 6,971 spectators in the half-full Convocation Center.
It started bad and got worse for Marshall, which coughed the basketball up 26 times on turnovers.
Marshall committed 19 turnovers in the first half, leading to 39 points for Ohio and trailed, 56-24, at halftime. Ohio, which had 18 turnovers of its own, finished with a 51-15 advantage in points off turnovers.
"Not tough enough, not strong enough," was a frustrated Marshall head coach Tom Herrion's attempt to explain the rash of turnovers.
The Thundering Herd used 12 players and 10 of them threw the ball away at least one time.
"I know it looks like we don't work on it, but we work on it time after time," Herrion said.
It didn't help that Marshall made only 14 of 29 free throws (48.3 percent) in its worst effort of the season.
Marshall, now 7-8 at the end of its non-conference schedule, begins Conference USA play Wednesday against the Tulsa Golden Hurricane, a 7 p.m. contest in Cam Henderson Center. Tulsa (8-6) plays its conference opener Sunday at SMU (10-5), an 8 p.m. television game on FS Ohio and Root Sports.
Ohio's Nick Kellogg tossed in a 3-point shot to open the game before Marshall had a chance to turn the ball over. The Bobcats (9-5) blew out to a 20-point lead midway through the first half and was well on the way to its 37-point margin.
It was Ohio's biggest triumph in the 100-game series since a 46-point win the first time the teams met way back in 1921.
"We were ready to go today," said Kellogg, the junior son of CBS college basketball analyst Clark Kellogg, who connected on five of nine 3-point attempts and topped the Bobcats with 22 points. "We were dialed in. We were hungry."
Cooper, a do-everything senior point guard, engineered Ohio's 63.5 percent field goal shooting with a school-record 17 assists. His passes for points added to Ohio's total of 29 assists on 32 field goals. He also had six rebounds and made four steals.
Ohio senior forward Reggie Keely's 18 points included the first 3-pointer of his career. Senior forward Ivo Baltic scored 12 and had seven rebounds.
Marshall junior wing guard D.D. Scarver scored 13 and sophomore Jamir Hanner came off the bench for career highs of 12 points and seven rebounds.
One of Marshall's other few positive statistics was Dennis Tinnon getting 13 rebounds. Marshall finished ahead in the rebound battle, 43-27.
"It sucks losing," said Tinnon after Marshall fell for the third consecutive game and for the fifth time in the last seven. "Nobody wants to lose. We've got to find some way to get out of this hole we dug for ourselves."
Herrion brought junior guard Dre Kane off the bench in the first minute, his first appearance after missing four games because of a hand injury, and he played for 20 minutes before fouling out with 7:46 remaining.
Kane contributed six points, eight rebounds, two assists and one steal while committing four turnovers.
"It's all right," Kane said about his injured hand. "It's still broke. Without any excuses, I still have to play hard."
Of all the things that went wrong, turnovers hurt most. The Herd basically handed the Bobcats numerous live-ball opportunities to score with bad passing, dribbling and overall lack of execution.
And, there was plenty of blame.
Forward Elijah Pittman (six) and Tinnon combined for nine turnovers from the starting forwards. Kane had four while Scarver and forward Rob Goff both added three.
Kane offered his solution.
"Take care of the ball," he said. "Be strong with the ball. A guy gets in on you, go past him. It's as simple as that.
"You just have to make basketball plays."