Behind Ohio’s four-game win streak and surge to second place in the MAC is one man. In fact, it’s one big man —Tony Campbell.
Campbell, a junior forward, has scored 87 points in the past three games, including a career-high 33 points on Tuesday night against Eastern Michigan.
He’s outscored himself in each of Ohio’s last four wins, and he’ll have a chance to do it once more when he and the Bobcats take on their rival Miami at 2 p.m. on Saturday at the Convocation Center.
While the Bobcats (17-8, 8-5) come into the game with a four-game win streak, Miami hasn’t been able to scrounge together four wins in the MAC.
The last-place RedHawks (3-10,9-17) will look to pick up their fourth conference win on Saturday afternoon, but standing between them and that win is Campbell.
“I just want to beat ‘em,” Campbell said. “This game means a lot you know not only for our alum but for us as well.”
Campbell stands at 260 pounds, which presents a serious problem for the RedHawks whose next closest player, that plays at least 15 minutes a game, is 43 pounds lighter than Campbell.
Aside from size, Miami enters the game at a significant offensive disadvantage. The RedHawks rank dead last in the MAC in points per game. Ohio, however, averages the second-most points in the conference with the offense running through Campbell, who leads the team in scoring.
“Honestly, I didn’t sit down necessarily with him in mind as being the focal point of what we do offensively,” Ohio coach Saul Phillips said. “He’s just kind of taken that role on his own.”
That role includes being a player that presents a threat in the paint and utilizing his 6-foot-10-inch frame.
Campbell has the second-best field goal percentage in the MAC with a variety of post moves to choose from.
His favorite: the hook shot.
Campbell starts by clutching the ball with just his right hand, takes two power steps inside about halfway between the free throw line and basket and lets the ball roll off his hand in a straight line to the net.
But he’s not limited to scoring down low.
In the MAC, Campbell is the fifth-best 3-point field goal shooter. He prides himself on being able to stretch the court by forcing teams to guard him out on the wing, at the top of the key or underneath the basket.
“Everyone knows I can score,” Campbell said. “It’s tough to guard me when I can post up and shoot at the same time.”
Campbell has proven how difficult it is to guard him with his 87-point tear in the last three games. In that span, he made 75 percent of his shots from 3-point range. His ability to shoot it from deep is something Phillips has never seen before from a post player.
“I’ve had one [big man] that was as good in the low post and I’ve had one that was as good out on the arc, but I’ve never had both,” Phillips said. “The run that he’s on right now is rare for any player, let alone a big.”
Campbell will look to keep that run going against the reeling RedHawks and will try to do it the only way he knows how — playing big. With only four MAC games left after this weekend, Campbell has put himself in the discussion to win MAC player of the year.
But more importantly, he’s got the Bobcats in the position to finish as one of the top four teams in the conference and advance straight to Cleveland for the MAC tournament.