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Bobcats use another big 2nd half to move to 2-0

Roderick, Preston pace win over North Carolina A&T

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. Ohio had another strong second half effort to pull away with an 84-72 victory against North Carolina A&T on Thursday at the State Farm Center at the University of Illinois.

The teams were knotted at 35 at halftime and at 38 early in the second half before the Bobcats outscored the Aggies 34-12 over the next 11 minutes to take a 22-point lead with 7:06 remaining.

Jason Preston approached a triple-double with 21 points, nine rebounds and seven assists, while Ben Roderick knocked down six 3-pointers and scored 22 points. Dwight Wilson put up 14 points with six rebounds, and Ben Vaner Plas was close to a double-double with 11 points and eight boards.

A Preston 3-pointer with 18:32 remaining put Ohio (2-0) up for good 41-38, and Vander Plas and Preston added baskets to make it a seven-point game.

With Ohio up 48-44, a Vander Plas triple, a Wilson layup and a Roderick 3-pointer pushed the advantage to double digits. A short time later, the Bobcats scored nine straight points to go up 72-50 with 7:05 remaining.

North Carolina A&T (0-2) scored the final eight points in 45 seconds to make the final margin closer.

The Bobcats jumped out to a 9-0 lead to start the game, all of them scored by Preston and Wilson. The lead was stretched to 13-2 on a Roderick layup. A Miles Brown 3-pointer midway through the first half gave Ohio its biggest lead to that point 23-11.

The Aggies used a 9-1 run to get within two and tied the game at 32 on a Harry Morrice 3-pointer with 44 seconds left. Brown answered with one for the Bobcats, but Tyrone Lyons hit three free throws after a Lunden McDay foul in the closing seconds of the half.

Morrice led the Aggies (0-2) with 13 points, while Lyons scored 11. Three different players scored eight points apiece.

While McDay had the hot hand for Ohio in the opener against Chicago State, it was Roderick who excelled on Thanksgiving by making 6 of 9 shots from beyond the arc.

The Bobcats shot 45.3% overall, including 38.2% on 3-pointers, and hit 13 of 21 free throws. The Aggies shot 39.7% from the field and made 13 of 15 foul shots. Both teams struggled at times with turnovers, with Ohio committing 21 and North Carolina A&T 19.

Despite the loss, it was a substantial improvement for the Aggies, who lost their opener Wednesday to Illinois 122-60.

Ohio plays its final game at Illinois against the host national No. 8 Illini at 1 p.m. Friday on the Big Ten Network. Illinois routed Chicago State 97-38 on Thursday.

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