On the heels of a 76-54 win over Mount St. Mary's to open up the regular season on Sunday afternoon, Ohio State welcomes Grambling State to Value City Arena tonight. The Buckeyes never trailed and led by as many as 24 points in the 76-54 win, running Thad Matta's record in season openers to 12-0 as Ohio State's head coach. Not only did Matta keep his perfect record in season openers as Buckeye head coach intact, but he also started the season in style, notching his 300th win as Ohio State head coach.
Ohio State received big contributions from a number of players throughout the game, but the star of the season opener was sophomore Jae'Sean Tate, who paced the Buckeyes with 21 points, and narrowly missed a double-double by grabbing nine rebounds. Marc Loving was able to secure his first career double-double, scoring 15 points and adding a career-high 11 rebounds in 35 minutes. Keita Bates-Diop also set a career-high with 10 rebounds to go along with 10 points in the contest.
Ohio State received quality production from their quartet of true freshman against Mount St. Mary, with JaQuan Lyle leading all Buckeye freshmen with 12 points, and adding six rebounds and three assists. Daniel Giddens was impressive in 26 minutes off the bench, putting in 11 points and grabbing six rebounds. The only true freshman who wasn't able to score any points in his first game as a Buckeye was A.J. Harris, who missed the only shot he took in 16 minutes on the floor.
Ohio State's opponent tonight will be Grambling State, who has really struggled over the past decade. The Tigers have never made the NCAA Tournament, with the low point coming in 2012-13 when they became the eighth Division I team to finish the season winless. The last time Grambling State was able to post a winning record was during the 2005-06 season, when they finished the year 14-13.
Shawn Walker is in his second season as head coach of Grambling State, and he has his work cut out for him if he wants to turn around a program that has only posted double-digit wins once in the last eight season, with that season coming in 2011-12 when the Tigers went 12-21. Walker's first year as head coach was a rough one, with his team only being able to win two of the 29 games they played.
At least Grambling State doesn't have to worry about finishing the season winless, as the Tigers defeated Mid-Atlantic Christian 85-26 on Saturday. The Tigers used a 38-0 run over a nine-minute span to earn the victory. All 11 players that took the court during the game for Grambling State ended up scoring, with Ervin Mitchell leading the way off the bench with 16 points. The win came just a day after Grambling State opened up their season with an effort where they hung around but weren't able to upend East Carolina, losing 61-53 in Greenville.
Numbers to know
Ohio State has won 60 straight non-conference home games against unranked opponents. The last time Ohio State lost to an unranked non-conference opponent was in December 2008 when West Virginia beat Ohio State in Columbus. In his coaching career with Ohio State, Thad Matta has a 105-1 record against unranked non-conference opponents in Columbus.
Sunday's win over Mount St. Mary's ran Ohio State's record at home to 107-10 since the beginning of the 2009-10 season. The 107 wins during that span are the most home wins in the country amongst Division I teams.
This game marks the first time in which Ohio State has played Grambling State, but the Buckeyes have played four previous games against SWAC opponents. The last time Ohio State played a team from the SWAC came in November 2011 when the Buckeyes defeated Jackson State 85-41.
Cast of characters
The sophomore was hitting from both inside and out on Sunday afternoon, hitting eight shots from the floor, with two of them coming from behind the arc. The 21-point performance marked the 15th time Tate has scored at least double figures in his young Ohio State career.
The center from Georgia might just be the force down low that Buckeye fans have been trying to find for a number of years, The freshman impressed in his first game, coming off the bench and playing 26 minutes and scoring 11 points. The play of Giddens got him plenty more time on the floor over Virginia Tech transfer Trevor Thompson, who only payed 11 minutes after starting the game at center.
Michael Bethea Jr.
The 6'6 junior scored 18 points on 6-11 shooting, with all of his shots coming from behind the arc, in Friday's loss to East Carolina. Bethea Jr. was the only other Grambling State player besides Ervin Mitchell to score in double figures the next day in the easy 85-26 win over Mid-Atlantic Christian, scoring 10 points in 19 minutes.
The freshman point guard from Chesapeake, VA impressed in his debut for Grambling State on Friday night, scoring 14 points in the 61-53 loss to East Carolina. After playing 31 minutes in the season opener, Ribeiro wasn't asked to do quite as much in the victory on Saturday, scoring six points and dishing out four assists in 22 minutes.
How to watch
Game time: 7:00 p.m. ET
Radio: 97.1 The Fan
TV: Big Ten Network