There has been many surprises around college basketball so far this season, but many weren’t expecting Ohio State to get off to such a strong start in Big Ten play. After defeating Wisconsin and Michigan in early December, Ohio State stepped back into conference play on Thursday night and defeated Iowa 92-81 in Iowa City.
Keita Bates-Diop led the way for Ohio State with 27 points, which tied his season-high, while the other four Buckeye starters reached double figures in the victory over the Hawkeyes. Ohio State jumped out to a 46-32 halftime lead, and Iowa wasn’t able to mount much of a challenge in the second half, improving the Buckeyes record to 10-2 when they are leading at halftime.
Not only did Bates-Diop lead Ohio State in scoring on Thursday night, but he pulled down 13 rebounds for the Buckeyes, giving him his seventh double-double of the season. Ohio State has won six of the seven games this year in which Bates-Diop has recorded a double-double, with the only loss coming to Butler in the PK80 Invitational in Portland. Ohio State is 628-272 all-time when they have a Buckeye record a double-double.
The win on Thursday night allowed for Chris Holtmann to become the first Ohio State men’s basketball coach to start conference play 3-0 in his first season. Ohio State last started Big Ten play 3-0 in 2016, but weren’t able to build much on the hot start, finishing the regular season with a 11-7 conference record, which was one of the reasons the Buckeyes weren’t invited to the NCAA Tournament.
Ohio State has had trouble against Michigan State over the years, posting just a 56-68 record all-time against the Spartans. At least the Buckeyes have had a little more success against Michigan State in Columbus, with Ohio State winning 36 of the 59 meetings in Ohio’s capital city. This will mark the first time Ohio State has ever played a top ranked Michigan State team. The Buckeyes have had trouble in the past when they have played ranked Michigan State squads, as evidenced by their 9-22 record against Top 25 Michigan State teams.
Michigan State lost their second game of the year to Duke in the Champions Classic in Chicago, but the Spartans have been flawless since then, winning 14 games in a row, with each of those wins coming by double digits. Last time out, the Spartans had little trouble with Maryland in East Lansing, beating the Terrapins 91-61. Nick Ward led the Spartans with 16 points, as four Michigan State starters reached double figures. The Spartans hit 16 three-pointers in the victory, which tied for the third-best total in school history.
The Spartans come into today’s game with five players averaging at least 10 points per game. Miles Bridges leads the way with 16.9 points per game, while Gahanna native Nick Ward is averaging 15.4 points per game. Jaren Jackson Jr. is a Michigan State player who could bother Ohio State with his size. The 6-11 freshman is averaging 6.8 rebounds per game and 3.3 blocks per game on the year, which means Ohio State will have to choose their shots carefully when going in the lane against Jackson.
Numbers to know
Ohio State is 8-11 all-time against top ranked teams. The last time Ohio State played a team sitting atop the rankings was in 2013, when the Buckeyes fell to Indiana 81-68. Ohio State’s last win against the No. 1 team in the country came in 2007, when the Buckeyes were ranked second and defeated Wisconsin, 49-48. Ohio State last won as an unranked team against the nation’s top team in 2005, defeating Illinois, 65-64, at Value City Arena.
Ohio State has improved on the offensive end dramatically this year. After reaching 80 points in just three games last year, the Buckeyes have scored at least 80 points in nine games this year, winning all nine of those games. The Buckeyes will need every point they can get against a Michigan State team that has scored at least 80 points in each of their last seven games.
After registering a season-high 35 assists in their previous game against Savannah State, Michigan State reached the 30 assist mark for the second game in a row on Thursday night against Maryland. This was the third time this season in which the Spartans have dished out at least 30 assists, with the other occurrence coming last month against Houston Baptist.
Cast of characters
The senior from Pickerington continued to work his way up Ohio State’s all-time scoring list by scoring 18 points on Thursday night against Iowa. Tate passed Clark Kellogg for 31st place on Ohio State’s all-time scoring list, and set his sights on Jamar Butler, who is currently 30th with 1,313 points. The forward will have his work cut out for him today with some of the talented front court players that Michigan State has.
With his 13 points on Thursday against Iowa, Williams eclipsed 900 points for his Ohio State career. Three of Williams’ field goals against the Hawkeyes were three-pointers, which gives him 153 triples for his career, tying him for fifth all-time at Ohio State with Scoonie Penn and Brent Darby. Williams has now reached double-digits in five of his last six games. The Buckeyes are going to need more hot shooting from the senior if they want to keep pace with the Spartans.
The sophomore is currently leading Michigan State with 16.9 points per game, and is thought of by many as one of the best players in the country. The forward brings a bit of everything to the table for the Spartans, as in three games he has reached double figures in rebounds, and has dished out at least five assists in four of the last seven games. Last time out against Maryland, Bridges registered 15 points, six rebounds, seven assists, and two blocks. Ohio State will have their hands full trying to slow down the talented forward.
Michigan State’s floor general is the sophomore from Detroit. Not only can Winston set his teammates up for buckets, but he can fill the score sheet when needed. Winston has scored double figures in all but three games this year, with his season-high coming against UConn, where he scored 28 points against the Huskies in the PK80. Winston is averaging 7.3 helpers per game this year, and dished out a season-high 13 assists against Savannah State, where Michigan State registered 35 assists.
How to watch:
Game time: 4:30 p.m. ET
Radio: 97.1 WBNS-FM
Streaming: CBS Sports
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