Ohio State looked decidedly better on Thursday night when they took down Providence 72-67 on Thursday night in the Gavitt Tipoff Games. The Buckeyes jumped out to a 38-28 lead at halftime, running their record to 283-17 under Thad Matta when building a lead of at least 10 points. Ohio State survived a second half push by the Friars to earn their third win of the season.
Ohio State didn’t spend much time trailing against the Friars on Thursday night. Providence took a 17-16 lead midway through the first half on a Rodney Bullock three-pointer before a Trevor Thompson jumper gave Ohio State the lead for good. The Friars creeped to within one point at 50-49 with 10 minutes left in the second half, but Ohio State was able to extend the lead and earn the hard-fought victory.
JaQuan Lyle paced Ohio State with 21 points, eight rebounds, and seven assists, giving the sophomore his first double-digit scoring effort of the 2016-17 season. Trevor Thompson came off the bench to nearly notch a double-double, scoring 12 points and adding nine rebounds off the bench. Jae’Sean Tate added 14 points for Ohio State in the victory.
Tonight’s game against Western Carolina marks the second game Ohio State will play in the Global Sports Invitational. The Buckeyes already took down North Carolina Central last Monday in their first game in the non-bracketed event. Following tonight’s game, Ohio State will close out their participation in the event with games at home against Jackson State on Wednesday and Marshall on Friday night.
Before he became a head coach, Thad Matta spent the 1995-96 season as an assistant coach at Western Carolina. That year, the Catamounts earned the automatic bid by winning the Southern Conference Tournament, and as a 16th seed, Western Carolina nearly upset Purdue in the first round of the NCAA Tournament, losing by a slim 73-71 margin to the Boilermakers. The 1995-96 season remains the only time in which the Catamounts have participated in the NCAA Tournament.
Western Carolina head coach Larry Hunter is quite familiar with Ohio, as he spent the first 25 years of his head coaching career in the Buckeye state. Hunter was the head coach at Wittenberg University in Springfield from 1976-89, leading the Tigers to the Division III National Championship in 1977. Hunter returned to his alma mater in 1989 to coach the Ohio Bobcats for 12 seasons, registering just one NCAA Tournament appearance during that span. This marks Hunter’s 12th year as the head coach of Western Carolina, where he has posted a 171-191 record.
The Catamounts have struggled mightily to start the season, losing three of their first four games. Western Carolina opened the season with a loss to the Miami Hurricanes before getting their only win of the year against Hiwassee College. The Catamounts have dropped their last two games, falling to North Carolina Central and Marshall, with both games being a part of the Global Sports Invitational.
Numbers to know
With Thursday night’s win over Providence, Ohio State has registered 124 wins at home since the start of the 2009-10 season, which is most in the country. Sitting just behind the Buckeyes on that list is Kentucky, who has 121 wins over that same span. Since Thad Matta became Ohio State’s head coach in 2005, the Buckeyes have 205 home wins, which is tied for Memphis for most during that span.
Ohio State is 14-1 against current Southern Conference teams, with the only loss coming in 1995 when they fell 83-70 to Chattanooga. Tonight’s game will be the second time the Buckeyes have squared off against Western Carolina, as the Buckeyes defeated the Catamounts 85-60 in 2010, in a game that was played at St. John’s Arena. The last time Ohio State played a Southern Conference team was in 2015, when they beat Mercer 64-44.
After forcing North Carolina Central into committing 20 turnovers last Monday, the Buckeyes were only able to force three turnovers against Providence. Surprisingly, Ohio State has been very effective in the few instances under Thad Matta when they force six turnovers or less, putting together a 12-3 record.
Cast of characters
After struggling in the first two games of the season, JaQuan Lyle rebounded with a team-high 21 points on Thursday night. Not only were the 35 minutes Lyle played a season-high, but the sophomore was sniffing around his second career triple-double, adding eight rebounds and seven assists. The 21 points were the most Lyle has scored since he put home 22 points in the 79-75 win over Penn State last year in the Big Ten Tournament.
The senior forward put together a solid all-around effort against the Friars, nearly registering a double-double with eight points and 10 rebounds. Loving also added three assists and two blocks in 37 minutes on the floor. The Toledo native is now just two field goals away from 300 makes during his Ohio State career, along with being just 31 points away from hitting 1,000 points as a Buckeye.
After averaging just five points per game last season, the junior guard is pacing Western Carolina with 12 points per game through four games this year. Peterson scored a career-high 19 points in Western Carolina’s lone win of the season against Hiwassee College last week.
Even though he is just 6-5, the redshirt junior is active on the glass, pulling down a team-high 10 rebounds per game this year. Last time out, Mutombo set a career-high by grabbing 13 rebounds in the loss to Marshall. The effort marked the second time this year in which Mutombo has registered double-digit rebounds, as he was credited with 11 boards against Hiwassee College.
How to watch
Game time: 7 p.m. ET
Radio: 97.1 WBNS-FM
TV: Big Ten Network