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Alter grad Simmons hits milestone in Ohio's win at Miami

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OXFORD, Ohio -- Freshman forward Jason Carter (Johnstown, Ohio) produced his fourth double-double with a career-high 25 points to go along with a game-high 11 rebounds as the Ohio men's basketball team (18-8, 10-5 MAC) topped Mid-American Conference East Division archrival Miami (10-18, 3-12 MAC) on Tuesday (Feb. 21) at Millett Hall.

The Bobcats have now won five of their last six games -- including four in a row -- and have walked away victorious in 11 of the last 12 meetings with the RedHawks. Ohio is now 6-2 on the road in MAC play in 2016-17.

"Every game is vital at this point," said third-year head coach Saul Phillips. "A four-game win streak in this league can move you a lot of different places."

Carter went 10-of-14 from the field and 4-of-5 from the free throw line to help power the Bobcats to victory. He also added an assist, a block and a steal in 31 minutes. Carter has scored at least 20 points three times this year and has led the team in rebounding a team-high 11 times this season.

"He was given some opportunity due to some misfortune of a teammate," said Philips of Carter being called upon to fill the void left by the absence of senior forward Antonio Campbell (Cincinnati, Ohio) due to season-ending foot injury in January. "We needed him to step up big, and he has stepped up big."

Redshirt junior guard Jaaron Simmons (Dayton, Ohio) tallied to 21 points off of 7-of-10 shooting from the floor and a 5-of-5 effort from the charity stripe. He has surpassed the 20-point mark in six of the last 11 games. His and-one bucket with 8:39 left in the second half put him over the 1,000-point mark for his collegiate career. Simmons also tallied three rebounds and an assist over 37 minutes.

Junior guard Mike Laster (Detroit, Mich.) came off the bench to score 14 points, shooting 6-of-10 from the floor en route to reaching double figures for the fourth game in a row. He also recorded a career-high three assists and posted a rebound and a block in 27 minutes.

"The Ninja just slices his way in there. He's crafty," said Phillips of Laster. "He's absolutely huge, and the thing that strikes me is he looks like he's been doing it for his whole career."

Sophomore guard Jordan Dartis (Newark, Ohio) finished with eight points, six rebounds, two assists and a team-high five steals in 29 minutes of work.

Ohio built a 13-4 advantage over the first five-plus minutes, thanks in large part to five points and by Simmons and four by Carter.

Miami answered with a 14-4 run to take an 18-17 lead with 8:40 to play in the first half. A layup by freshman center Darius Harper gave the RedHawks their only lead of the game.

The Bobcats regrouped, though, outscoring Miami by a 21-4 count over the final 7:41 of the half to take a 16-point lead into the break at 38-22. A jumper by sophomore guard forward Gavin Block (Lincoln, Ill.) swung the lead back in favor of Ohio, and Dartis knocked down a pair of three-pointers in the final 2:46 -- including a buzzer beater from just in front of the midcourt line at the half.

The RedHawks came out attacking in the first seven-plus minutes of the second half and cut Ohio's lead back down to three at 44-41 with 12:22 to go. Miami's rally was sparked by a pair of triples by freshman forward Marcus Weathers and a trey by redshirt sophomore guard Jake Wright.

A three-pointer by Block with just over 12 minutes left put a halt to Miami's charge for Ohio. His triple was followed by a layup and a three by Carter to put the Bobcats up by double digits for good. Carter finished with 16 points over the final 20 minutes of play while Simmons chipped in 13.

"It feels like we've come a long way as a team," said Carter. "When we're playing like that and can win like that, it's just shown how far we've come."

Junior forward Logan McClane led Miami with 11 points off of 5-of-8 shooting. He also tallied four rebounds over 26 minutes.

Wright and Weathers each scored 10 points for the RedHawks.Wright also had two rebounds and an assist in 35 minutes while Weathers totaled five rebounds and a team-high four assists to go along with two steals in 28 minutes off of the bench.

Freshman guard Michael Weathers collected a game-high six steals for Miami. He also posted nine points, three assists, a rebound and a block in 26 minutes of action.

Ohio plays its final road game of the 2016-17 regular season on Saturday (Feb. 25), visiting MAC East Division rival Kent State (16-12, 8-7 MAC). The contest is slated to get underway at 7 p.m. ET at the M.AC. Center. The game will be televised regionally on Spectrum Sports and Buckeye Cable Sports Network and will also be broadcast on ESPN3 and streamed nationally on the WatchESPN app.

Kent State knocked off MAC East Division rival Buffalo, 77-69, on Tuesday in Amherst, N.Y., which allowed Ohio to take over sole possession of second place in the overall league standings with three games to play.

In the first meeting of the season between the Bobcats and the Golden Flashes, Ohio dominated Kent State, 85-67, on Jan. 6 in a nationally televised matchup on ESPNU at the Convocation Center in Athens.

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