Value City Arena
The Buckeyes opened up the season with an easy 89-50 win over Morgan State in Columbus on Saturday, and will try and make it two-for-two on the young season when they welcome in-state foe Ohio into Value City Arena tonight. Even though the schools are separated by just over 70 miles, this is the first meeting between the squads since the 1994 Preseason NIT, which the Bobcats won 78-67. Ohio State holds a 17-4 edge over Ohio in the all-time series between the two schools.
Thad Matta and his team are expecting to get a little tougher test than the one that Morgan State gave them in the regular season opener Saturday afternoon. Lenzelle Smith Jr hit four 3-pointers on his way to leading the Buckeyes with 18 points against the Bears. Shannon Scott matched Smith's 3-pointers, hitting three in the first 2:05 of the game, on his way to a career-high 16 points. Ohio State ended the game with five Buckeyes hitting double figures in scoring.
As hot as the offense was in the first game of the season, the defense was just as effective. The Buckeyes held Morgan State to 23 points in the first half, and for the game the Bears only shot 30.8% from the field. Ohio State held a 55-34 edge on the boards, with LaQuinton Ross pacing the team with 11 rebounds, and blocked five of Morgan State's shots. About the only negative that could be taken away from Saturday's game was the 16 turnovers that the Buckeyes committed, but it's not a surprise for a early season game.
Coming into the season many thought that Shannon Scott would be the first man of the bench for Thad Matta, but in the exhibition game against Walsh and Saturday's game against Morgan State Scott has been in the starting lineup and Sam Thompson has been the first Buckeye substitute to enter the game. Seeing the success that the Buckeyes have had in the first two games that Matta has employed that strategy it's hard to see that changing for tonight's game.
A familiar face will be trying to match wits with Thad Matta as Ohio head coach Jim Christian was an assistant with Matta when the two served on the Miami University coaching staff in 1994-95. This is Christian's second year as head coach of the Bobcats, and he will be looking to improve on last year's 24-10 record. A year after their magical Sweet 16 run, Ohio was only able to earn a NIT bid last season, which saw them lose in the first round to Denver 61-57.
As the Ohio State game was ending on Saturday, the Ohio season opener was starting over in Athens. Led by junior college transfer Maurice Ndour's 20 points, the Bobcats downed Northern Iowa 75-64. Ohio hit 51.9% from the field and had four players score in double figures as they defeated the Missouri Valley team that went 21-15 last year and made it to the CIT semifinals.
One area of concern that Christian might have going into tonight's matchup against the Buckeyes could be the issues that the Bobcats had in the season opener. Ohio was out-rebounded by Northern Iowa 34-28 and didn't have any player grab more than five boards. The Bobcats put out a three guard starting lineup on Saturday, with the tallest Bobcat starter being Ndour at 6'9.
Numbers to Know
The all-time record of the Buckeyes against MAC teams. This will be the first time that the Ohio State has played a MAC team since 2010 when they beat Miami, 66-45.
The number of consecutive non-conference home games that the Buckeyes have won against unranked opponents. The last time Ohio State lost was in 2008 against West Virginia.
That was the 3-point FG% that the Bobcats registered in the season opener, hitting 11 of 23 3-pointers against Northern Iowa.
Cast of Characters
The name might sound familiar to Buckeye fans, as the senior guard from Westerville is the son of former Buckeye Clark Kellogg. In the season opener, Kellogg scored 16 points and grabbed 5 rebounds.
Another Bobcat from the Columbus area is this Gahanna native. Only a junior, Taylor started the season strong at point guard for Ohio, scoring 10 points and dishing out 8 assists in the win over Northern Iowa.
In his first start, the junior didn't disappoint in trying to fill the shoes of the departed Deshaun Thomas. Ross notched a double-double against Morgan State, scoring 14 points and pulling down 11 rebounds.
Provided he can not foul out in 14 minutes on the floor, Williams could find himself in for a strong game on the boards and in the blocks department against a Bobcat team that is short on size.