RedHawks visit BGSU for tourney opener

New life or just the end of the road?

Miami University’s men’s basketball team has garnered the last seed for the Mid-American Conference tournament and hopes to extend its season Monday night at Bowling Green’s Stroh Center. The RedHawks (8-21) have lost nine straight games, but not their competitive drive.

“I don’t think anybody’s ready to call it quits,” MU freshman guard Geovonie McKnight said Sunday after practice at Ohio’s Convocation Center, where Miami dropped a 58-54 decision to the Bobcats on Saturday. “We’re ready to start new and keep going.”

The RedHawks have split with BGSU (13-18) this season, losing at the Stroh Center about two weeks ago. Plagued with injuries, MU is down to nine players.

Yet Miami forged a 12-point lead against OU on Saturday before faltering. It can clearly compete with quality opponents when playing well.

“We have to have maximum effort in every game we play,” RedHawks coach John Cooper said. “We can’t win games when we have spells where we’re not locked in. We had one of those spells against Ohio, and quite frankly, we haven’t quite figured out how to be a mentally tough enough group to overcome that.

“Having said that, we came here and competed our tails off yesterday, and that goes to the character of the kids and who they are as people. The hardest thing to do is to continue to bring it every day in practice when you’re not getting positive results, but I don’t think we’re going to Bowling Green saying, ‘Hey, let’s just play this game and get it over with.’ I don’t feel that way about this group.”

There is some history on MU’s side Monday. Miami is 7-1 against Bowling Green in the MAC tourney, and the Falcons got knocked off at home by lower-seeded Central Michigan last season.

The RedHawks are averaging 14.2 turnovers per game and had a flurry of miscues Saturday during Ohio’s second-half surge. Freshmen Reggie Johnson and McKnight totaled four turnovers apiece.

McKnight, a Middletown native, has started 10 games while averaging 19.4 minutes. He’s getting 5.5 points, 2.5 rebounds, 1.7 assists and 1.2 steals per contest.

“It’s been a big learning experience,” McKnight said. “I have gotten better throughout the year with my all-around game and knowledge of the game. Next year, I think I’ll make a great jump.”

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