If there was a bright spot from the Wright State men’s basketball team’s recent three-game road losing streak, it was the play of JT Yoho.
The sophomore forward scored in double figures in all three games, including a career high-tying 20 in a Thursday’s 68-64 loss at Wisconsin-Milwaukee, and he will try to make it four in a row tonight at home against Youngstown State.
Yoho had only scored in double figures once in his previous 10 games, and a rolled ankle forced him to sit out another three.
“It feels good to finally be back to 100 percent and playing hard and playing well,” he said. “I think that’s made a big difference.”
Yoho returned to action Jan. 19 at Cleveland State, but he played six minutes and scored two points. He went 1 of 7 from the field in nine minutes and scored five points in the following game at home against Milwaukee, but since then he’s been the offense’s biggest contributor with 45 points combined in the last three games.
“When you miss games and practice time, it’s impactful,” Wright State coach Billy Donlon said. “I’ve been happy with how he’s played. Where I’ve really been pleased with him is his defense. He’s guarding extremely well for a sophomore undersized post player.”
In addition to the uptick in scoring, Yoho grabbed a season-high eight rebounds and tied his career high with two steals Saturday to go along with 15 points in a 62-55 setback at Wisconsin-Green Bay.
“The ankle injury kind of affected my shot because my Achilles got real tight,” Yoho said. “Going to Milwaukee last week was the first time I felt 100 percent.”
Although you wouldn’t have known that by his performance in the first half, when he missed all six shots, including four from 3-point range. But Yoho went 7 of 10 in the second half, including 3 of 5 from beyond the arc.
“I had a couple of games in high school (in Solsberry, Ind.) where I was like 0 for 10 in the first half, but my parents always told me shooters keep shooting,” Yoho said. “You can’t let a miss affect you. You have to move on to the next one.”
Donlon said he agrees with that philosophy to a point, but he said the number of misses are still a bit troubling.
“He’s playing better, but I will say – and I told him this: He’s gotten a lot of wide open shots,” Donlon said. “Rick Majerus said wide open shots for great shooters, you should make 80 percent. We have to make the wide-open ones.
“That’s not a knock on JT, but you do have to hold guys accountable for what they need to do,” Donlon added. “He played a terrific second half against Milwaukee and gave us a chance to win. He played really well at Youngstown and played solid at Green Bay.”
With Yoho back to normal and senior forward Cole Darling expected to return after missing two games with a concussion, Wright State should be at full strength against a YSU squad that started the Raiders’ current three-game slide with a 68-67 decision Jan. 25.
Donlon said a strong start, which is something that has been lacking of late, will be key tonight against the Penguins.
“In the last three games we’ve had to try to come from behind to win, and that’s really hard to do on the road, at home, anywhere,” he said. “With three or four minutes to go in the game, we’ve got to be the team in the driver’s seat.”
WSU is tied with YSU and Milwaukee for fourth place in the league, just 1 1/2 games back of second place. The top two teams get double byes in the tournament, and the third-place team gets a single bye.
“We had some chances to secure a top two or three finish with this last road trip, but we were unable to do it,” Donlon said. “It puts a lot of pressure on us to compete for one of the top three spots in the league, which is very, very critical going into the tournament.”