After beating Texas Southern 82-64 on Thursday night, Ohio State looks to stay unbeaten before they hit the road for the first time this year. This afternoon’s contest against Northeastern is one of the non-bracketed games of the PK80 Invitational. Following today’s game against the Huskies, Ohio State will head to Portland for three games in four days starting on Thursday.
While Ohio State was in control for most of Thursday night’s game against Texas Southern, the Buckeyes did have to fend off a charge from the Tigers in the second half. Early in the second half, Ohio State was ahead by 18 points following a Keita Bates-Diop layup, but Mike Davis’ squad started to chip away at the lead after that bucket. Eventually Texas Southern was trailing by just two points with under seven minutes to go, but that was as close as the Tigers would get, as Ohio State rattled off 13-straight points to erase any doubt in the result.
Keita Bates-Diop continued his torrid start to the season, recording his third-straight double-double. The last Buckeye to start the season with three straight double-doubles was Evan Turner in 2009. Ohio State needed everything they got from Bates-Diop on Thursday, as freshman Kaleb Wesson was suspended due to failure to meet team expectations.
Ohio State has posted a 9-2 record against teams currently in the Colonial Athletic Association, but one of those losses did come to Northeastern. In 1985, the Buckeyes and Huskies met in East Rutherford, New Jersey, with Northeastern squeaking out a 76-74 win. The Buckeyes last played a team from the CAA back in 2014, when they beat James Madison 73-56 in the Buckeye Classic in Columbus.
It would be hard to blame the Huskies if they came into this afternoon’s game a little bit sluggish. On Friday night, Northeastern suffered their first loss of the season, falling to Stanford 73-59 in Palo Alto. The Huskies trailed by as many as 19 points in the second half, but an 11-0 run slashed the deficit to just two with five minutes to go, but that was as close as Northeastern would get. Sophomore Donnell Greshman Jr. came off the bench and scored a team-high 15 points in the loss.
Head coach Bill Coen is in his 12th year as Northeastern’s head coach, but during his time with the school the Huskies have only made the NCAA Tournament once. In 2015, Northeastern won the CAA Tournament, and put a scare into Notre Dame before the Fighting Irish eventually prevailed 69-65 in the second round of the NCAA Tournament. During the 2014-15 season, Northeastern won 23 games, which is the most they’ve won under Coen. Since the tournament appearance, Northeastern posted an 18-15 record during the 2015-16 season, and a 15-16 record last year.
Numbers to know
There are a couple reasons why nine was such an important number for Ohio State in their last game. Not only did C.J. Jackson tie his career-high by dishing out nine assists in the win over Texas Southern, but the Buckeyes hit a season-high nine three-pointers on Thursday night. Ohio State’s previous season-high from behind the arc came last Sunday when the Buckeyes hit eight three-pointers against Radford.
Ohio State is finding success because of the way that they are rebounding the basketball so far this season. The Buckeyes are 14th in the country with a +16.7 rebounding margin. A big chunk of that average rebounding margin came in the season opener against Robert Morris when the Buckeyes out-rebounded the Colonials by 29. Since then Ohio State recorded 12 more rebounds than Radford last Sunday, and nine more rebounds than Texas Southern on Thursday night. Keita Bates-Diop is leading Ohio State with 11 rebounds per game.
Northeastern comes into this afternoon’s game with no players averaging 10 points per game. Instead of having a couple players who can fill it up on the score sheet, the Huskies spread the wealth, with seven players averaging at least seven points per game. The highest point total a Northeastern player has had during a game this season has been 15 points, which Tomas Murphy scored in the season-opening win against Boston University, and Donnell Greshman Jr. matched in the loss to Stanford on Friday.
Cast of characters
The senior continued his rise up the Ohio State all-time scoring list on Thursday night, with his 17 points moving Tate up to 40th place with 1,131 points. If Tate is able to match the 17 points he scored against Texas Southern, he’ll pass not only the 1,139 career points that Jamaal Brown scored, but also the 1,147 points Frank Howard scored during his Buckeye career. Tate also added seven rebounds against the Tigers, and is just 16 rebounds away from 600 boards for his career.
The Buckeyes got a boost down low with the performance from Micah Potter on Thursday night. The sophomore bested his previous career high of 13 points, which he posted last season against N.C. Central, by scoring 17 points against Texas Southern. Potter could be in store for another big game today, as Northeastern had some trouble dealing with the size Stanford threw at them on Friday night.
The guard is the lone senior on Northeastern’s roster. Last year Begley was named to the CAA All-Defensive Team after leading the conference with 48 steals. The senior is currently Northeastern’s leading scorer, averaging 9.3 points per game. Begley will be looking to rebound after hitting just two of his 11 field goal attempts against Stanford.
The freshman forward from Rhode Island is already putting up strong numbers in his first year on campus. Murphy’s brother is Alex Murphy, a transfer from Duke and Florida, who averaged 14 points per game last year for the Huskies before graduating. Following his first two games of the year, Murphy was named CAA Rookie of the Week for his performances against Boston and Wentworth.
How to watch:
Game time: 2 p.m. ET
Radio: 97.1 WBNS-FM
Streaming: BTN Plus. To stream this game you will need to create an account, which costs $9.99 per month