Ohio State will look to improve on Monday night’s lackluster effort when they take on Providence tonight at Value City Arena. The Buckeyes squeaked by North Carolina Central 69-63 on Monday, in a game marred by turnovers and fouls. While it wasn’t ideal that Ohio State turned the basketball over 13 times against the Eagles, it paled in comparison to the 20 turnovers North Carolina Central committed. This marked the 50th time Ohio State has forced an opponent to commit 20 turnovers in a game, and in those contests Ohio State has a 49-1 record.
This matchup between Ohio State and Providence is part of the Gavitt Tipoff Games, which is a tribute to the late Big East commissioner Dave Gavitt, who was also the first commissioner of the conference. Gavitt had strong ties to Providence, where he amassed a 209-84 record as head coach of the Friars from 1969-79. This is the second year of the Gavitt Tipoff Games, which features eight matchups between Big Ten and Big East schools each year. Last year Ohio State wasn’t involved in the Gavitt Tipoff Classic, but Providence was, as the Friars secured a 60-59 win over Illinois.
Tonight’s game will be just the second the Buckeyes have ever played against the Friars, with Ohio State earning a 84-83 win over Providence in the first round of the 1990 NCAA Tournament. Ohio State is 64-29 against current Big East teams. The last time the Buckeyes faced a Big East team was back in 2014, when Ohio State took down Marquette 74-63 in Columbus. Providence is 31-26 against Big Ten teams, with their last game against a Big Ten school resulting in a 77-64 loss to Michigan State last year in the Wooden Legacy.
One of the most concerning things about Ohio State’s season so far has been the ineffectiveness of JaQuan Lyle. After averaging nearly 30 minutes per game and 11.2 points per game as a freshman, Lyle is averaging just 17.5 minutes per game and 4.0 points per game in Ohio State’s first two contests. Luckily the Buckeyes have had junior college transfer C.J. Jackson to pick up the slack for Lyle. After registering nine assists in the season opener against Navy, Jackson dished out eight assists off the bench against North Carolina Central. The 17 assists Jackson is credited with this season is currently tied for most in the country.
This year Providence is trying to do something they have never done before. Make the NCAA Tournament in four consecutive seasons. Last year the Friars won their first NCAA Tournament game since 1997 when they topped USC 70-69 in the second round. Providence didn’t make it any farther, falling to North Carolina 85-66 in the next game.
If the Friars want to make the NCAA Tournament this year they’ll have their work cut out for them, as they don’t have the services of Kris Dunn and Ben Bentil anymore. Dunn was taken fifth overall by the Minnesota Timberwolves in this year’s NBA Draft, while Bentil led Providence last year in scoring, averaging 21.1 points per game.
Ed Cooley’s team got off to a strong start this year, taking down Vermont 80-58 in their season opener on Monday. Providence was paced by junior college transfer Emmitt Holt, who scored 22 points in the victory. The leading returning scorer from last year’s squad is Rodney Bullock, who was third on the Friars last year with 11.4 points per game, scored 18 points against the Catamounts.
Numbers to know
For the 13th consecutive season under Thad Matta, Ohio State has started the season 2-0. More often than not the Buckeyes end up winning their third game of the year as well. There has only been two seasons in which Ohio State has not advanced to 3-0 under Matta. In the 2009-10 season, Ohio State lost to North Carolina, and last year the Buckeyes fell to UT-Arlington.
When Ohio State registers a 15-point lead during a game they are pretty much unbeatable, registering a 211-1 record. The only time Ohio State has lost when they had a 15-point lead during a game came in 2011, when the Buckeyes lost to Wisconsin 71-67 after holding a 47-32 lead. The Buckeyes are pretty good with a 10-point lead as well, as they have a 282-17 record when they lead their opponent by double-digits.
Under Thad Matta, Ohio State is 180-7 in Columbus against unranked opponents, with four of those losses coming to non-conference opponents. Overall, Ohio State is 268-42 against unranked opponents under Thad Matta. Ohio State teams have been especially strong under Matta in November, with the Buckeyes compiling a 58-9 record during his time in Columbus.
Cast of characters
In the win against North Carolina Central, junior Jae’Sean Tate registered his sixth career double-double, scoring 21 points and pulling down 10 rebounds. The 21 points were the most Tate has scored since he put in 22 points in February against Rutgers before having his sophomore season shortened due to injury. Tate is currently second on Ohio State in scoring this year, with his 15.5 points per games sitting just behind Kam Williams’ team-leading 16 points per game.
After becoming just the seventh freshman to start in his first game during Thad Matta’s time in Columbus, Potter was able to enter the scoring column for the first time on Monday night in his second start for the Buckeyes. Potter gave a little bit of life to the crowd early in the game, hitting three first half three-pointers against North Carolina Central. Potter finished the game with 13 points in the victory, which was only bested by Jae’Sean Tate’s 21 points.
After averaging 11.4 minutes per game and 3.6 points per game during the 2014-15 season as a freshman at Indiana, Emmitt Holt spent last year in junior college. Holt made quite a name for himself in his Providence debut on Monday night, pacing the Friars with 22 points. This won’t be the first time Holt has gone up against the Buckeyes, as he played 20 combined minutes the two times Ohio State and Indiana squared off in the 2014-15 season.
Last year Cartwright had the luxury of backing up Kris Dunn, and it was apparent that even last season some of Dunn’s skills were rubbing off on Cartwright. The guard from California was second on the Friars in assists last season with 139 helpers, and his 2.8:1 assist-to-turnover ratio led the Big East. Cartwright was even better in Providence’s season opener this year, dishing out 12 assists in the lopsided win over Vermont.
How to watch
Game time: 7 p.m. ET
Radio: 97.1 WBNS-FM
TV: Big Ten Network