Matt Ryerson-USA TODAY Sports
Zeke Marshall dominated inside while Alex Abreu took care of the perimeter as Akron ran past Ohio in a battle for MAC East supremacy. The Zips now hold the longest win streak in the country, at 13 games.
Pick a spot on the floor, then have a player from Akron shoot from there. Saturday afternoon, it was more than likely that the ball would find nothing but net.
The Zips shot a blazing 56.1 percent from the floor as they downed Ohio 86-72 in a battle for supremacy in the MAC East. The win was Akron's 13th in a row this season, the longest active streak in Division 1 after Kansas fell to Oklahoma State while all the MACtion was taking place.
Unlike meetings past, Akron didn't need to be perfect, but for most of the game Alex Abreu and Zeke Marshall were. Abreu helped the Zips grab the lead with a hot run from behind the 3-point arc late in the first half. He continued to be perfect from the floor until he tossed up a shot from almost half court to beat the shot clock late in the second.
Given the day that Akron was having, wouldn't you know that even that heave bounced into the waiting arms of a player in a black jersey?
Marshall finished with his perfect day intact (8-for-8 FG), after dominating inside against the undersized Bobcats. The NBA center prospect unleashed some massive dunks including one that featured a clear out with his left arm as he swung his right over his head for the one-handed slam.
There was no defense for that, but then again Ohio didn't have much in the way of defense all afternoon.
Abreu finished with 21 points and nine assists, while Marshall added 17 points, 12 rebounds and two blocks in the win. They had plenty of help to back them up, including Demetrius Treadwell (15 points, 10 boards), who kept Akron in the game early and made several key baskets in the second half.
The big question was where Ohio's defense went. Even with the understanding that they were outsized, this was very out of character for the Bobcats. They allowed almost 1.25 points per possession; the steals that they made didn't seem to matter; they failed to clean the glass, allowing the Zips to grab 11 offensive boards (out of just 15 misses).
That isn't the Bobcat team that bugged the heck out of Michigan, South Florida and North Carolina last season, even if the names are the same. That isn't the Bobcat team that was previously undefeated in the MAC.
Even D.J. Cooper seemed out of sorts. The do-everything point guard shot just 3-for-10, while distributing only six assists (maybe not his fault, given that his teammates didn't several of his laser beam passes). Where did the shooter go? Where did the passer go? Where did the lock down defender disappear to?
This was a big win for Akron, which now controls its destiny in the conference.
It was almost a perfect Saturday afternoon for the Zips, and with a run like this going, it will be hard to keep them from leaping past all challengers come March.