The Ohio State men’s basketball team is 5-0 after a blowout victory over Jackson State on Wednesday. It was a complete team effort, with JaQuan Lyle pouring in a smooth eight assists in the first half, and finished with 11.
Kam Williams and Marc Loving led the offensive charge for the Buckeyes, scoring 19 and 15 points respectively. Jae’Sean Tate had a good game as well, with seven points and four rebounds, as well as three steals. That’s not a huge state line, but his hustle plays and the emotional leadership he provided helped give the Buckeyes a spark, as they breezed past Jackson State.
A similar win on Friday night would be welcome for Thad Matta and his squad, as they’re looking for some consistency in their play that they haven’t seen in a couple of seasons. Marshall may not be a crazy good team, but another blowout win would be fun for all of us, and a good sign for Ohio State.
Marshall comes in undefeated as well at 4-0, and actually has a pretty similar slate of games to that of Ohio State. The Thundering Herd also has victories over NCCU, Western Carolina, and Jackson State.
Their scoring attack is led by Jon Elmore, a junior guard out of Charleston, West Virginia, with 19 points per game. He’s also their leading distributor with nearly six assists per game.
One of the Thundering Herd’s defensive stalwarts is Ryan Taylor, who is averaging two blocks per game for Dan D’Antoni’s squad. If the name sounds familiar, yes, he is the older brother of Mike D’Antoni, current Houston Rockets coach in the NBA.
Ohio State has been without Keita Bates-Diop, and according to CBS Sports’ Jon Rothstsein, he will be a game-time decision against Marshall.
Numbers to know
Both of these teams have zero losses. They’ve both played against similar, mediocre squads, but a win is a win. We’re not quite sure just how well either of these teams are yet, but at the very least for the Buckeyes, who knocked off Providence earlier this season, you’d like to see them handle a team like Marshall easily. As we’ve seen across college basketball early this season, that’s not always the case.
Marshall’s KenPom ranking. They’re undoubtedly one the better teams Ohio State will have faced this season through 5 games, but it’s still nothing to go crazy over. For good measure, Fort Wayne, who knocked off Indiana was 120, so we shouldn’t sleep on the Thundering Herd. They’re 17th in adjusted tempo, which is number of possessions per 40 minutes. If they’re able to make the most of those, that’s breeding grounds for an interesting basketball game.
That was the last time these two teams met. Obviously both programs have gone in different directions since then, but it’s cool when rare matchups like these happen, as long as the Buckeyes handle their business in the Schott. At the very least, Thad Matta’s looking well on his way to another 20-plus win season, which has been the norm for him since arriving in Columbus.
Cast of characters
A national treasure. Tate is such a fun basketball player, and he’s like the glue for this Ohio State team. They’re young, but Tate is a junior now, and the argument could be made that he was already their leader last season, and that’s definitely the case through five games this season. Tate loves the game of basketball so much, and his fiery, competitive spirit is infectious within Ohio State’s team. So far he leads the Bucks in points per game with 13.2, and he’s third in rebounds at 6.6, but he does so much more for this team that helps them win games that you just can’t record.
When Lyle is passing the ball to his best ability, the Ohio State offense is actually really fun to watch. Lyle came out of Evansville, Indiana, to Ohio State with his high school coach often saying he had to have him tone down his passes, because they were so good his teammates couldn’t handle them. This season, Lyle appears to have found a good mix, and it made for some quick, exciting runs for Ohio State against Jackson State. When Lyle is scoring too, that’s arguably the Buckeyes’ most valuable player.
The junior from Durham, North Carolina, is second on D’Antoni’s squad with 14.5 points per game, and first in rebounds per game at 7.3. The 6’7 forward just about does it all for the Thundering Herd, and stopping him will be key for another Ohio State victory. He was a transfer from Georgia Highlands College, and has been a key addition to Marshall’s team. D’Antoni’s favorite part about him? He’s a biology major trying to go to med school. That’s a solid backup in case basketball doesn’t pan out.
Elmore is another transfer for D’Antoni’s program, coming from VMI in January of 2015. He won the Evans Award as the top prep basketball player in West Virginia in high school, and was a key piece for Marshall last season. He missed eight games last season, in which the team went 2-8. He’s their leading scorer, but at 6’3, 189 pounds, the Buckeyes should be able to match up with him pretty well.