CONWAY, S.C. — Jared Butler scored 19 points and No. 24 Baylor pulled away to beat Ohio 76-53 on Thursday in the Myrtle Beach Invitational quarterfinals.
MaCio Teague added 17 points, Freddie Gillespie finished with 10 points and 11 rebounds and the Bears (3-1) used a late 15-0 run to cruise to their second straight win. Baylor established a 42-32 rebounding advantage, forced 19 turnovers and turned them into 22 points.
Lunden McDay scored 16 points and Jason Preston added 12 for the Bobcats (3-2), who have lost two in a row to the ranked teams in the eight-team field. No. 17 Villanova beat Ohio 78-54 on Saturday.
The Bobcats trailed the entire second half and cut their deficit to single digits only once, when McDay’s layup with 8½ minutes remaining pulled them within 57-48. Butler — who has led Baylor in scoring in all four games — started the Bears’ run of 15 straight points with two free throws with 8:01 to play and scored eight points during the game-breaking burst.
Ohio: Playing Villanova and Baylor in consecutive games is one way to force a young roster — which includes six freshmen and first-year coach Jeff Boals — to grow up in a hurry. The Bobcats can build on the seven-point lead they took during the opening 6½ minutes of this one.
Baylor: The Bears were back at full strength with preseason All-Big 12 pick Tristan Clark returning after missing their victory over Texas State while having what the school described as a minor, non-operative knee procedure. Clark, who missed the final 20 games of last season after having knee surgery, had eight points and four rebounds in 15 minutes against Ohio.
Ohio: Plays the Coastal Carolina-Utah loser Friday in a consolation game.
Baylor: Faces the Coastal Carolina-Utah winner Friday in a semifinal.
The 6-foot-5 native of Gary, Indiana started 28 games last season for the Bobcats and was fourth on the team in scoring at 8.1 points per game. Taylor also put up 2.5 rebounds and 1.3 assists per game on 43 percent shooting.
According to Arksley’s report, Ohio head coach Saul Phillips felt that this transfer came out of nowhere.
“I’m feeling a little puzzled, a little baffled,” Phillips said to Arksley. “We weren’t given any kind of reason other than that.”
“I really didn’t see it coming, and that’s what hurts the worst. I still don’t know quite why it happened,” Phillips continued. “We’ve tried to communicate, but at some point it always came back to we couldn’t get any more answers other than it was a gut feeling.”
The loss of Taylor certainly hurts Ohio down the road. As a young player, he was already playing heavy minutes and a bout with mono towards the end of last season made his production dip a little bit.
Ohio’s Maurice Ndour beats the buzzer with a dunk after full-court inbound pass for last-second win (VIDEO)
Saturday afternoon Belmont and Ohio staged one of the best games of the day, and it was to be expected with both teams expected to factor into their respective conference races this season. Belmont’s Craig Bradshaw scored a career-high 42 points on Saturday and the Bruins needed every one of those points as the Bobcats were their equal throughout.
Bradshaw’s final two points decided the game, as he went the length of the court before dropping a floater over Ohio’s Treg Setty with two tenths of a second remaining (it can be seen at the 1:20-mark in the video above). Bradshaw’s 42 points are also a Division I-era program record. Javarez Willis scored 25 points to lead the way for Ohio, and tough basket with seven seconds remaining tied the game at 81 apiece.
The MAC has become known for parity the last few years, but last season saw the emergence of the league’s West Division after many years of dormant activity.
Before last season’s MAC conference tournament title game between Toledo and Western Michigan, the West hadn’t had a team in the league championship game since 2006 as the East Division and teams like Akron and Ohio usually dominated the league’s NCAA Tournament bid.
That changed dramatically in 2013-14 as Toledo won a school-record 27 games but ultimately fell short of making the tournament by falling to Western Michigan.
The Rockets will be favored to make the Big Dance this season, however, as they return four starters, including two of the league’s top-1o scorers in senior point guard Julius Brown and fellow senior Justin Drummond. If Toledo can improve its shaky defense and get more stops on the defensive end, they could be one of the most dangerous mid-major programs in the country this season because they can really put up points in a hurry.
Western Michigan will still have plenty of gas in the tank after only losing All-MAC center Shayne Whittington from a NCAA Tournament team. Senior guard David Brown was granted a sixth year of eligibility and is the league’s returning leading scorer and he’s joined by senior point guard Austin Richie, junior power forward Connar Tava and sophomore forward Tucker Haymond.
Representing the East Division will be Akron, who has reached 20 wins a remarkable nine consecutive years under head coach Keith Dambrot. If league history is any indication, the Zips might be the favorite to make the NCAA Tournament by virtue of always making it during odd-numbered years. Akron reached the NCAA Tournament in 2009, 2011 and 2013, with breaks one-year in between just like this season. Past history aside, Akron returns all-league forward Demetrius “Tree” Treadwell, who is one of the most productive players in the league and the team will have plenty of talent to compete in 2014-15.
With new head coach Saul Phillips at the helm, Ohio should be competitive this season as well. Senior forward Maurice Ndour is a force on the interior and the senior backcourt of Stevie Taylor and Javarez Willis should be steady for the Bobcats.
From there, the MAC is filled with question marks.
Bowling Green has a new head coach in former Wichita State assistant Chris Jans and he inherits a roster filled with experienced players. All-MAC selection Richaun Holmes returns at forward and senior guards Anthony Henderson and Jehvon Clarke can both score as well while junior forward Spencer Parker also averaged double-figures last season.
One of the surprise teams this season in the MAC could be Northern Illinois, as the Huskies improved by 10 wins last season and return plenty of talent. Head coach Mark Montgomery returns plenty of players with starting experience, including senior center Jordan Threloff, forwards Darrell Bowie and Travon Baker and guard Aaric Armstead, but he also gains Kansas State transfer Michael Orris at point guard, Purdue transfer Anthony Johnson at shooting guard and sophomore guard Dontel Highsmith returns from a ACL injury that robbed him of a promising start last season.
Kent State returns its top three scorers in guards Kris Brewer, Derek Jackson and Devareaux Manley, but the Golden Flashes were inconsistent last season and relied too much on perimeter jumpers. Buffalo begins life after MAC Player of the Year Javon McCrea and must replace his stellar production in the front court this season. Eastern Michigan also returns its top three scorers from a 22-win season, but they’ll have to make it over the hump of beating the top teams in the league.
PRESEASON MAC PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Julius Brown, Toledo
The senior point guard known as “Juice” returns to a 27-win team after averaging 14.9 points and a MAC-leading 6 assists per game last season. The 5-foot-10 Brown is the engine that makes the Rockets’ potent offense run and his scoring average increased to 16.2 points per game during MAC play last season.
THE REST OF THE PRESEASON ALL-MAC TEAM:
David Brown, Western Michigan – The 6-foot-4 senior was granted a sixth year of eligibility by the NCAA after a career filled with medical issues and the Broncos will be pleased because he’s the MAC’s returning leading scorer at 19.1 points per game.
Richaun Holmes, Bowling Green – One of the MAC’s best athletes, the 6-foot-8 Holmes averaged 13.3 points and 7.7 rebounds per game as a junior while also leading the conference in blocks.
Demetrius Treadwell, Akron – The 6-foot-7, 235-pound forward is coming off of a first-team All-MAC appearance after averaging 15.2 points and 8.6 rebounds per game last year.
Maurice Ndour, Ohio – The 6-foot-9 senior with a 7-foot-5 wingspan put that to good use last season, averaging 13.8 points, 7 rebounds and 1.5 blocks per game, good for top-10 in all three categories in the conference.
Among those currently connected to college basketball, there are five players and one head coach participating in the FIBA Basketball World Cup. With two (Angola’s Yanick Moreira and Ukraine’s Sviatoslov Mykhailiuk) playing on teams that failed to advance out of group play, Saturday’s action began with three players and one coach remaining in the field.
Both categories dropped by one Saturday evening, with the Dominican Republic (led by USF head coach Orlando Antigua) losing 71-61 to Slovenia and Senegal (which includes Ohio senior forward Maurice Ndour) losing to hosts Spain 89-56.
Antigua, who took over for former boss John Calipari as head coach of the Dominican Republic national team, became the first coach to lead the team into the knockout rounds of the event since 1978 by leading the team to a 2-3 mark in Group C. Unfortunately for Antigua his team managed to score just 13 points in the second quarter Saturday, and Slovenia’s Dragic brothers (Zoran and Goran) combined to score 30 points with Zoran responsible for 18.
The Dominicans were led offensively by former Quinnipiac guard James Feldeine, who scored 18 points and grabbed eight rebounds in a losing effort. Now that his tournament is over Antigua will rejoin his program at USF, a group that looking to rebound from two disappointing seasons under former head coach Stan Heath.
As for Ndour, he and his teammates ran into one of the tournament favorites by virtue of their finishing fourth in Group B, and as expected things didn’t go well against Spain. Senegal trailed by just six points (23-17) at the end of one quarter, but an 11-point second quarter resulted in Spain eventually pulling away for a comfortable victory.
Ndour finished the game with four points and two rebounds, and for the tournament he averaged 5.8 points and 2.5 rebounds per contest at one of Senegal’s first players off the bench. Ndour’s role will be different during his senior season at Ohio, as he’ll look to build on a productive 2013-14 season under new head coach Saul Phillips.
The two remaining current college players in the event are New Zealand’s Tai Webster (Nebraska) and Isaac Fotu (Hawaii), and they’ll be in action Sunday morning as they take on Lithuania.