ATHENS, Ohio --The Ohio men's basketball team (7-4) returns to action for the final time in 2018 when they close out nonconference play on Sunday, Dec. 30 when the Bobcats host FIU (9-3). Tip-off is set for 2 p.m. inside the Convocation Center.
Sunday's contest will be broadcast on the Ohio IMG Sports Network, with Russ Eisenstein, Rob Cornelius on the call. Radio pregame coverage is set to begin at 1:30 p.m. ET with 'Countdown To Tipoff.'
FIU enters the matchup with the Bobcats with an overall record of 9-3 and are currently fourth in Conference USA.
The Panthers average 95.6 points per game and are shooting 47.1 percent from the field, 30.3 percent from three-point range and 64.0 percent from the free throw line. FIU averages 39.0 rebounds per game, 17.3 assists, 4.3 blocks and 12.4 steals per game. FIU also forces opponents to turn the ball over an average of 22.7 times a game.
Opponents average 83.3 points per game against the Panthers, while shooting 44.6 percent from the field, 32.7 percent from three-point range and 65.3 percent from the free throw line. Opponents also average 43.9 rebounds, 7.3 steals, 4.5 blocks and 14.8 assists per game.
Leading the way for FIU is Brian Beard, Jr. who is averaging 20.6 points per game, while shooting 47.5 percent from the field and dishing out a team-leading 79 assists. Devon Andrews is averaging 15.4 points per game, while shooting 60.4 percent from the field and 48.0 from three-point range. Willy Nunez, Jr. is averaging 12.7 points per game, while shooting 36.9 percent from the field, and 85.7 percent from the free throw line.
Trejon Jacob averages 11.9 points per game, while Osasumw Osaghae is leading the Panthers with 7.7 points per game, 9.6 points and 23 total blocks.
IN FIU'S LAST GAME
FIU is coming off of a 108-67 victory over Florida Memorial on Dec. 20 in Miami, Fla.
FIU shot 50.0 percent from the field (37-73), 38.9 percent (14-36) from three-point range and 69.0 percent (20-of-29) from the free throw line. The Panthers grabbed 50 rebounds, dished out 19 assists, had eight blocks and 18 steals. FIU also scored 46 points in the paint and 36 points off of turnovers. FIU also forced Florida Memorial to turn the ball over 25 times.
Meanwhile, Florida Memorial shot 35.9 percent from the field, 29.6 percent from three-point range and 50.0 percent from the free throw line. They also grabbed44 rebounds, dished out 15 assists, had three blocks and eight steals.
Individually for FIU, the Panthers had seven players score in double figures and were led by Willy Nunez, Jr., who dropped 22 points, going 7-of-14 from the field, 6-of-13 from three-point range and 2-of-2 from the free throw line. Devon Andrews scored 19 points, going 7-of-10 from the field, grabbed six rebounds and had four steals. Brian Beard, Jr. scored 17 points, going 7-of-9 from the field and dished out a team-high six assists.
Trejon Jacob, Marcus Burwell and Isaiah Banks all added 10 points.
This is the second all-time meeting between Ohio and FIU, with the Panthers leading the all-time series, 1-0.
LAST TIME AGAINST FIU
The Bobcats and Panthers last faced off on Dec. 28, 2004 in Miami, Fla. at the 2004 FIU Holiday Classic. The Panthers came away with the 74-73 victory.
Ohio vs. C-USA in 2018
The Bobcats are 1-0 against Conference USA this season, defeating Marshall on Dec. 1.
LAST TIME OUT FOR OHIO
The Bobcats are coming off of a 95-67 loss at Purdue on Dec. 20.
Redshirt freshman forward Ben Vander Plas (Ripon, Wis.) and sophomore guard Teyvion Kirk (Joliet, Ill.) both finished the game with 15 points. Vander Plas went 4-of-9 from three-point range and went 3-of-4 from the free throw line. Kirk finished the game 5-of-10 from the field and 5-of-8 from the free throw line. Redshirt sophomore guard Connor Murrell (Sioux City, Iowa) set a new career-high with nine points going 4-of-8 from the field and 1-of-3 from three-point range. Freshman guard Jason Preston (Orlando Fla.) finished the game with a team-high five rebounds and four assists.
Overall, Ohio shot 41.1 percent from the field, 37.5 percent from three-point range and 63.2 percent from the free throw line, while Purdue shot 56.7 percent from the field, 48.3 percent from three-point range and 81.3 percent from the free throw line. The Boilermakers outrebounded the Bobcats 36-27, and dished out 23 assists to Ohio's 11.
For Purdue, Carsen Edwards led the way with 30 points, going 10-of-16 from the field and 4-of-9 from three-point range. Ryan Cline added 19 points, going 7-of-11 from the field and 5-of-8 from beyond the arc. Trevion Williams grabbed a game-high eight rebounds.
The Bobcats enter the matchup with FIU with an overall record of 7-4.
11 games into the season, Ohio is averaging 74.9 points per game. They are shooting 44.5 percent from the field, 29.5 percent from three-point range and 67.3 from the free throw line. The Bobcats are also averaging 40.5 rebounds a contest to go along with 15.2 assists, 7.6 steals and 4.0 blocks per game.
Individually, Jason Carter is averaging 17.9 points and 6.85 rebounds per game. He is shooting 49.0 percent from the field and
75.0 percent from the free throw line. Meanwhile, Teyvion Kirk is adding 15.7 points per game 6.0 rebounds and 3.1 assists per game.
Vander Plas is averaging 11.4 points and 5.1 rebounds while shooting 46.2 from the field and 37.1 percent from beyond the arc.
CARTER'S RETURN ALREADY FELT
11 games into the season and the return of Jason Carter has been felt. The redshirt sophomore, who missed all but three games in 2017-18, has been a force for the Bobcats.
Carter has led the Bobcats in scoring in 10 of the first 11 games for Ohio, recording a double-double against Wilberforce, and scoring 24 points against Campbell.
Carter also added a double-double against Austin Peay on Nov. 24, while trying a career-high with 25 points in that matchups and did the same thing on Dec. 1 against Marshall.
So far this season, Carter is averaging 17.9 points and 6.5 rebounds per game. He is shooting 49.0 percent from the field and 75.0 percent from the free throw line.
Carter was also named the MAC East Co-Player of the Week on Dec. 3.
BIG BEN ALERT
Ben Vander Plas' addition to the lineup as also been notability. The redshirt freshman, who missed all of last season due to injury, has been the Bobcats' biggest source off the bench, scoring 16 against Wilberforce, 15 against Campbell and 10 points against LMU.
Right now, Vander Plas' biggest impact came on Nov. 27 against Iona, where he scored a career-high 18 points and 11 rebounds to register his first career double-double.
Vander Plas would go on to tie his career-high of 18 points on Dec. 1 against Marshall.
On Dec. 20 at Purdue, Vander Plas led the Bobcats with 15 points and tying a career-high with four made three-pointers.
Vander Plas is averaging 11.4 points and 5.1 rebounds while shooting .462 from the field and .371 from three-point range.
TK GOING FOR ROUND TWO
Sophomore guard Teyvion Kirk looks to pick up where he left off last season.
Currently, Kirk is second on the team with 15.7 points per game. He also added 6.0 rebounds, while shooting 45.7 percent from the field. He has also recorded 34 total assists and 20 steals for the Bobcats.
On Dec. 15 at Detroit Mercy, Kirk drained the game-winning three-pointer with under a minute to go to lead Ohio to a 63-61 victory.
500 W'S IN THE CONVO
Not only is this the 50th anniversary of the opening of the Convocation Center, but another milestone was set on Nov. 12.
With Ohio's win over Campbell, the Bobcats reached 500 victories inside the Convo.
Doug Taylor, who currently registers 112 blocks in his career, which moves him into ninth all-time for career blocks.
Taylor needs eight more blocks to move into eighth place, which is currently held by Antonio Campbell.
OHIO IN THE MAC -TEAM
In the Mid-American Conference, the Bobcats currently rank third in rebounding offense (40.5), second in rebounding margin (+7.3), sixth in offensive rebounds (12.3), third in defensive rebounds (28.2) and second in defensive rebounding percentage (.777).
Ohio is also third in steals (7.6) and fourth in blocked shots (4.0) and in assists (14.9).
OHIO IN THE MAC -INDIVIDUAL
Individually, Carter is currently fifth in the MAC in scoring (17.9), while Taylor is fifth in rebounding (8.6).
Kirk is fourth in steals (1.8), while Taylor is first in blocked shots (1.9) and fourth in offensive rebounds (3.5). Taylor sits seventh in defensive rebounds (5.2), while Kirk is 10th in minutes played (31.5).
Ohio announced on Dec. 3, 2018 - the 50th anniversary of the first game inside the Convocation Center - the plans for a 50th anniversary celebration for the Convo.
Ohio Athletics will be celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Convocation Center on Saturday, Feb. 2 with a Sibs Weekend basketball doubleheader as the women's team battles Ball State at 1 p.m. ET and the men's team takes on Akron at 3:30 p.m. ET. Tickets for the doubleheader are $5 and include admission to both games.
The gameday atmosphere surrounding the doubleheader will have a throwback feel to it. Celebration elements are set to include:
• Men's team wearing 1968 throwback uniforms
• Women's team wearing 1980s throwback uniforms
• Cheer and dance teams and Rufus the Bobcat in retro gear
• Retro Ohio "Attack Cat" logo displayed on the court
• Retro music playlist
• Commemorative 50th anniversary posters for the first 2,000 fans in attendance
• Men's basketball reunion attendees introduced to the crowd
• Women's basketball reunion attendees introduced to the crowd
•Internationally known entertainer, Red Panda, to perform at halftime of the men's basketball game
Following their matchup with FIU, the Bobcats will jump into Mid-American Conference play on Saturday, Jan. 5 when Ohio hosts Northern Illinois. Tip-off is set for 2 p.m. inside the Convocation Center.