After starting off the 2017-18 campaign with wins over Robert Morris and Radford, Ohio State will look to stay undefeated under Chris Holtmann when they host Texas Southern tonight. The Buckeyes are 6-0 all-time against members of the SWAC, and tonight will mark Ohio State’s first-ever meeting with Texas Southern. The last time the Buckeyes played a member of the SWAC came back in 2015, when Ohio State thumped Grambling 82-55 in Columbus.
Ohio State had little trouble with Radford on Sunday afternoon, in a 82-72 win over the Highlanders. The Buckeyes led by as many as 26 points at one point in the second half of Sunday’s game, but a 23-8 run by Radford to close the game made the score look a lot more respectable for the Highlanders than it actually was. Keita Bates-Diop recorded a game-high 22 points in the victory, while guard C.J. Jackson added 19 points.
While there has been plenty of positive play for Ohio State to start off the season, there have been a couple of areas where the Buckeyes must improve if they are going to find success the rest of the year. Against Robert Morris, Ohio State turned the basketball over 19 times, and followed that performance up with 15 turnovers against Radford. With the competition about to ramp up with the PK80 Tournament next week — along with the start of conference play — the Buckeyes will have to take better care of the basketball.
Turnovers haven’t been the only issue for Ohio State early in the season. The Buckeyes have had a tough time finding their range from behind the arc. Ohio State made just five of the 18 three-pointers they attempted against Robert Morris, and on Sunday they made eight of their 27 attempts from behind the arc. If the Buckeyes are going to have any success this year, they’ll have to either improve on their long-range shooting, or find other ways to put points on the board.
Texas Southern comes into tonight’s contest having lost their first two games, but they are a team the Buckeyes can’t take lightly. The Tigers opened up their season with a 97-69 loss to Gonzaga on Friday, and on Sunday just missed out on a chance to take down Washington State in Pullman. The Tigers were up by as many as 22 points in the second half against the Cougars, but Washington State fought back to force overtime, and eventually earn a 86-84 win over Texas Southern.
Many Ohio State fans will notice a familiar name coaching Texas Southern, as Mike Davis is now in his sixth season with the school. The former Indiana head coach has amassed a 99-69 in Houston, and the Tigers have made the NCAA Tournament three times since 2014. Last year Texas Southern won the SWAC regular season title, along with the conference tournament, before falling to eventual national champion North Carolina in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.
Numbers to know
Sunday’s win was the 143rd game Ohio State has won when they have had at least two Buckeyes recording a double-double. Not only did Keita Bates-Diop record a double-double with 22 points and 10 rebounds, but Jae’Sean Tate joined the junior by scoring 13 points and pulling down 10 rebounds. In games where at least two Buckeyes record a double-double, Ohio State is 143-51 all-time.
Since the start of the 2010 season, Ohio State is tied with Kentucky for most home wins. The Buckeyes have posted a 136-22 record in Columbus since 2010, and a win would break a tie with the Wildcats for at least a day, as Kentucky hosts East Tennessee State in Lexington tomorrow night.
The 2017 portion of Texas Southern’s 2017-18 season will be spent exclusively on the road. The Tigers’ first 13 games of the season will take place away from home. Already Texas Southern has visited the Pacific Northwest for games against Gonzaga and Washington State, and after the Tigers leave Columbus they’ll play at Syracuse on Saturday and at Kansas on Tuesday. At least all the time spent on the road should bring Texas Southern together as they try to secure another NCAA Tournament bid.
Cast of characters
After missing most of last season due to injury, the redshirt junior forward looks to be making up for lost time so far this year. Bates-Diop has recorded double-doubles in Ohio State’s first two games this season, and now the Buckeyes are 8-0 when Bates-Diop records a double-double. Even though Bates-Diop is returning from injury, it doesn’t look like he is on any sort of minutes restriction, as evidenced by the 32 minutes he was on the court for in Sunday’s victory against Radford.
The freshman has come off the bench in each of his first two games with the Buckeyes, but the Westerville native is already demanding more minutes with how he is playing when he is on the floor. After scoring 13 points and grabbing seven rebounds in his Ohio State debut against Robert Morris on Friday night, Wesson added nine points off the bench in Sunday’s win. As long as Wesson can stay out of foul trouble, he should see his minutes continue to increase.
Texas Southern’s NCAA Tournament hopes got a big boost when they were able to land graduate transfer Donte Clark from UMass. The guard averaged 16.1 points per game during the 2015-16 season for the Minutemen, and 12.6 points per game last year. Clark has already been asked to shoulder a lot of the load for the Tigers, playing 85 minutes in his first two games. Despite the drop in scoring last year, Clark has shown he can still fill up the score sheet, recording 13 points in his debut with the team against Gonzaga, and following that performance up with 22 points and 14 rebounds in the loss to Washington State.
Teaming with Clark in the backcourt is reigining SWAC Freshman of the Year Demontrae Jefferson. Last year Jefferson averaged 14.8 points per game for the Tigers. The 5-7 guard from Milwaukee has been even better this year, scoring 20 points against Gonzaga, and 22 points in the overtime loss to Washington State. One area of Jefferson’s game Ohio State might be able to exploit is his ball security, as the sophomore is averaging four turnovers per game so far this year.
How to watch:
Game time: 7 p.m. ET
TV: Big Ten Network
Radio: 97.1 WBNS-FM