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Brown, James lead Bobcats to win in opener

Ohio tops Troy 88-70 in MAC-Sun Belt Challenge

ATHENS – AJ Brown and Elmore James combined for 44 points to lead Ohio to a season-opening 88-70 victory against Troy as part of the MAC-Sun Belt Challenge on Wednesday night at The Convo.

AJ Brown finished with 24 points, with James scoring 20 points as the Bobcats (1-0) led basically from start to finish.

In a high-possession game, Troy (1-1) was held to 39.0% shooting with 17 turnovers. It was led by Christyon Eugene with 19 points.

Jaylon Hunter added 11 points for the Bobcats, mostly on 8-of-8 free-throwing shooting. His only made field goal in 12 attempts was a 3-pointer that followed one by Brown and gave Ohio an early 6-2 lead. The advantage was extended to 9-2 on a Brown jumper at the 15:15 mark in the first half.

Troy got as close as 23-21 with 6:26 left in the half on a Theo Seng 3-pointer, but Ohio followed with a massive run of 18 straight points over the next five minutes. James scored the first seven points in that stretch and added another basket later that made it 36-21. Brown capped the outburst with a 3-pointer to increase the advantage to 20 points.

The Trojans were able to make it a 43-28 game by halftime and made a push in the second half before the Bobcats closed it out.

Tayton Conerway scored a layup that cut Ohio’s lead to 50-43 just over five minutes into the second half, but James answered on the other end and later scored a bucket that put the Bobcats ahead 65-52 with 9:26 to play.

Troy fought back once more and trailed just 69-63 after a Marcus Rigsby Jr. 3-pointer with five minutes left. James had the answer again with a 3-pointer of his own, and the Bobcats pulled away late.

AJ Clayton was efficient for Ohio with 10 points on 3-of-4 shooting, while Miles Brown finished the night with nine points. Gabe Wiznitzer led the team in rebounds with seven in just 16 minutes.

Conerway finished with 13 points for Troy.

Ohio shot 45% from the field overall but was only 7-fo-25 (28%) from long range, instead relying on 27-of-32 free-throw shooting to light up the scoreboard.

The Bobcats hit the road to face Cleveland State at 6 p.m. Saturday.

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