Ohio State returns to Columbus after an eventful holiday weekend and third place finish in the Virgin islands' Paradise Jam. The buckeyes went 2-1, grabbing wins over Clemson and Florida Gulf Coast and losing to Wichita State. Kelsey Mitchell led or tied Ohio State in scoring in all three games.
The Buckeyes have been led by Mitchell, who just received her first Big Ten Freshman of the Week honors, with 27 ppg and returning leading scorer Ameryst Alston with 24. Ohio State has struggled with its full cast of characters this season while waiting for Shayla Cooper, a transfer student from Georgetown, to become eligible after her final exams of the fall semester. Until then, Ohio State will have to continue playing with either seven or eight players.
The Buckeyes' roster suffered loses when freshmen Makayla Waterman and Chelsea Mitchell went down with ACL injuries, then Duke transfer Kianna Holland also suffered a season ending ACL injury. ACL injuries have also plagued redshirt sophomore Kalpana Beach, who left Ohio State's game against Wichita state with another leg injury.
Reeling from injuries, the Buckeyes have found a way to get to a 4-3 record, but have struggled late in games at Virginia and against Georgia. Ohio State showed some resiliency against Clemson though. The Buckeyes led the majority of the game but relinquished the lead with less than ten minutes, but a 15-2 run, which included 12 points from Mitchell, put Ohio State ahead for good. The small sample size has shown the Buckeyes dealing with late game defeats and wins, but it is certain that Ohio State has struggled with such a depleted bench.
The undersized Buckeyes have elected to play a four guard offense this year with the average height being 5 feet 9 inches. This has led to an 83 points per game average for Ohio State, but also a tired defense that has been giving up 80 points per game. Ohio State will have their work cut out for them against the Pitt Panthers on Wednesday as they only give up 58 points per game.
Pitt comes into the game at Value City Arena with a 4-2 record led by freshman guard Brianna Kiesel, who averages 16.2 points per game. In their W's this year Pitt has won by an average of 25 points, but in their two losses they have lost by an average of 16 points. The up and down season could start to become more defined with a chance to take on Ohio State.
Pitt has the three point play on their side in their first ever ACC/Big Ten Challenge. The Panthers average 7.7 made three pointers this season (2nd in ACC), while Ohio State has been giving up 10.9 three pointers a game. The Buckeye guards will have have to pressure Pitt in three point land in this game as Pitt will likely be throwing up shots from behind the arc early and often.
Numbers to Watch
Ohio State has been out-rebounded by an average of 8 boards per game which has led to many second chance points for their opponents. This stat also coincides with the buckeyes lack of size in the interior.
Pitt has played one other team from the Big Ten this year, a win over Michiagan, and they put up 85 points in that game. Hopefully, Ohio State can limit that kind of scoring on Wednesday.
As stated above, Pitt has only played one game on the road this year, and it was a 80-64 loss at James Madison. The Panthers may be riding a two game win streak, but they visit one of the largest college arenas with a loyal women's basketball fan base on Wednesday.
Cast of Characters
Heart has quietly been third in scoring for Ohio state with 11.3 points per game behind Mitchell and Alston. Heart also leads the team with 7.7 rebounds per game. Look for Heart to help the Buckeyes with their inside play against the Panthers.
The least know of the four starting guards, Doss leads the team with 25 total assists and averages 5.7 points and 5.6 rebounds per game. Doss has a knack for getting involved all over the court for Ohio State, and she looks to continue this against Pitt.
Wignot trails only Kiesel in points per game with 11.5 and also grabs 6.3 rebounds per game. The big story though for the former volleyball player is blocks. Wignot leads the ACC with 3.2 blocks per game. Last week Wignot scored 16 points per game and had 4 blocks per game.
Carrey could be bad news for the Buckeyes as she not only scores 10.8 points per game, but leads Pitt with 9 rebounds per game. Ohio State has struggled grabbing the ball out of the air this season, and Carrey could keep that trend going if she maintains her average on Wednesday.
How to stream and listen
Game Time: 7:00 p.m. ET
Online Streaming: BTN Plus
Radio: ESPN 1460 AM