For the first time since 2005, Ohio University has something to celebrate other than the greatest Halloween party in the history of the world. Thanks to a dynamite backcourt duo of junior Armon Bassett and freshman D.J. Cooper, the ninth-seeded Bobcats are going dancing after knocking off third-seeded Akron in the MAC final, 81-75.
Bassett, a 6'2" transfer from Indiana, continued his dominance of the MAC tourney, going for 25 points on 8-16 shooting. Bassett, who averaged 16 points in the regular season, absolutely went off in Cleveland, averaging 29 points in the Bobcats' four upset wins. But, against a hungry Akron squad, the play of a struggling freshman was what the Bobcats needed to make a difference.
In their previous two games against Kent State and Miami, Ohio was able to advance without much contribution from their second-leading scorer. D.J. Cooper combined for 1-10 shooting and four total points in the two contests, well below the 13 points he averaged in his inaugural college campaign. Against the Zips, though, Cooper found his stroke again and put up the type of LeBron James-esque statline Cleveland has become accustomed to. Cooper finished with 23 points, 7 rebounds and six assists, with 5 of those points and one crucial block coming in the extra period.
For head coach John Groce, it's a return to the tournament for the first time since Florida broke his little Buckeye heart in the national championship game in 2007. This time, he'll again play the role of underdog - a position he seems to be comfortable with.
Ohio University, it's time to get your Cinderella outfits out seven months early. You're going dancing.