BOWLING GREEN - The time for Bowling Green State University's men's basketball team to show off the results of summer and preseason workouts finally arrived yesterday when its season tipped off against Wayne State.
None looked to have benefited more from offseason efforts than 6-foot-9 senior Otis Polk.
The leaner and more mobile center scored all but two of his 14 points before halftime to help lead the Falcons to a commanding 67-45 victory over Wayne State before a crowd of 1,448 fans at Anderson Arena.
"Otis has been great for us in the preseason and the scrimmages," coach Louis Orr said. "I'm thrilled with how he's responded.
"He's worked hard, and he's gotten himself in better shape. He's getting there. It's a process. It's a marathon, but the results are his performance and the way he's been playing."
Polk was perfect from the field in the first half, making all six of his shot attempts, including BG's final two baskets of the half to cap a 13-0 run over the last five minutes to stretch a four-point edge over Wayne State into a 39-22 halftime advantage.
Polk made it 37-22 when he received a feed from Joe Jakubowski and delivered a one-handed dunk with 2:13 left in the half. He finished the first-half scoring when he registered a putback of a last-second shot by Jakubowski as time expired.
"My biggest thing is to do whatever I can do to help my team win," said Polk, who finished the day making seven of eight shots and grabbing a team-high six rebounds. "If my team needs me to score points, that's what I'll do. If they need me to play defense or rebound, that's what I want to do."
Scott Thomas also shot well from the field for BG, knocking down four of five 3-pointers and finishing with a team-high 15 points in a contest the Falcons went ahead by as much as 27 points midway through the second half. Darion Goins and Erik Marschall added seven points apiece.
The Falcons shot 51 percent (26 of 51) for the afternoon, knocking down 7 of 16 3-pointers.
"I thought Scott Thomas played with a lot of poise out there today and took good threes," Orr said of BG's 6-6 sophomore forward.
Jerry Oden scored 12 of his game-high 16 points in the first half to lead Wayne State, a program coached by former BG standout David Greer. Ike Udanoh added 10 for the Warriors, who sank only 36 percent (17 of 47) of their shots.
"I thought we competed pretty hard out there," Greer said. "Bowling Green is a pretty physical team. Otis [Polk] has improved tremendously and has gotten himself in great shape, and he's actually going to be a force to be reckoned with. I thought he did a good job of getting the ball inside."
The Falcons opened the game defensively playing man-to-man, but it wasn't until they switched to zone that they began to put some distance between themselves and the Warriors, who finished 1-for-10 from 3-point territory.
"I thought it was definitely a team win," Orr said. "I was very pleased, especially on the defensive end. We made our run at the end of the first half and after four or five minutes in the second half our defense was the difference."
ANOTHER BG CELEBRATION: Prior to the game, the men's team celebrated last season's MAC championship and participating in the National Invitational Tournament by receiving their MAC championship rings and unveiling a NIT banner.
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