— By Bill Cornwell
Two teams playing some of their best basketball of the season clash Wednesday night as old rivals Marshall and Ohio play in Athens, Ohio.
The game at Ohio’s Convocation Center tips at 7 p.m., and will be shown on ESPN+.
Marshall (7-3) is coming off an 80-69 win at Eastern Kentucky on Saturday night, while the Bobcats (7-2) won on Saturday at Stetson, 55-45. Marshall has won three straight games and Ohio has won four of its last five contests.
Junior guard Taevion Kinsey continues to lead Marshall in scoring at 21.2 points per game. Junior guard Andrew Taylor (13.5 ppg), redshirt freshman forward Obinna Anochili-Killen (12.1 ppg) and senior forward Darius George (10.1 ppg) also average in double figures.
Anochili-Killen still tops Marshall in rebounds at 7.2 per game, followed closely by Taylor and George.
Anochili-Killen continues to be a force on the defensive end and the former Chapmanville High School star leads Division I with 50 blocks for an average of five per game.
Dan D’Antoni is in his eighth season as head coach at Marshall and the MU alumnus has a record of 135-102.
The Bobcats have quality wins over Belmont and Cleveland State and dropped road contests against two Southeastern Conference opponents, Kentucky (77-59) and LSU (66-51).
The Bobcats are led by sophomore guard Mark Sears, who is averaging 16.2 points per game. Two other Ohio players score in double figures — redshirt senior forward Ben Vander Plas (13.6 ppg) and graduate student Jason Carter (13.2 ppg).
Carter leads Ohio in rebounding at 7.3 per game, followed closely by Vander Plas (6.7 rpg).
Ohio is shooting 42 percent from the field, 34.6 percent from the 3-point line and 75.8 percent from the free-throw line. Ohio outscores opponents by nearly five points per game and does a good job of taking care of the ball, but is being out-rebounded by opponents by over two boards on average.
Ohio is led by head coach Jeff Boals, a Bobcat alumnus who is in his third year year at OU. He has a 40-25 record as Ohio head coach and is 96-67 overall, with Boals having spent three seasons as head coach at Stony Brook.
Boals also spent four seasons as an assistant at Marshall (1999-2003), working under former MU head coach Greg White.
The Herd and Bobcats have met 105 times in the past, and Ohio leads the all-time series 56-49. Last season, Marshall came away with an 81-67 win over Ohio in Huntington.
After Wednesday’s game, Marshall heads home for Saturday’s 4 p.m. meeting with Northern Iowa of the Missouri Valley Conference.
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Kinsey was named Conference USA Player of the Week on Monday. It is his fourth-career C-USA weekly award and his first of the 2021-22 season. Kinsey averaged 21 points, 7.5 rebounds and six assists per game in a pair of wins. Against Bluefield University, the junior tallied 21 points, grabbed eight rebounds and dished out seven assists. He went 9-for-13 from the field in the victory last Wednesday. On Saturday at EKU, he scored another 21 points, had seven boards and five assists as Marshall picked up its first road win of the season.