The Ohio State Buckeyes are off to a hot start this season. They’re sitting at 4-0, and already have recorded wins against Cincinnati and Creighton--two KenPom top-50 teams. Chris Holtmann’s team looks to continue its five-game home-stand as they face the Samford Bulldogs tonight at Value City Arena.
Ohio State has shown that it has offense to spare — especially when it comes to teams it is supposed to beat.
Most recently, the Buckeyes recorded a 28-point victory over South Carolina State (also the Bulldogs). Last week, Ohio State overcame Purdue Fort Wayne 107-61. It’s a welcome relief, since just a few seasons ago the Buckeyes were barely scraping by against the likes of North Carolina Central and Fairleigh Dickinson. It’s even more impressive considering that the Buckeyes lost most of their scoring power from last season.
As has been the theme this season, the win was a shared effort among a roster consisting mostly of newcomers. For the second time in four games, sophomore forward Kaleb Wesson led the Buckeyes in scoring with 18 points on the day, while his brother, Andre, added 11. Sophomore guard Musa Jallow, coming off of the bench, had seven rebounds. On the night, 37 of the Buckeyes’ 89 points came from reserves, with the effort led by Duane Washington Jr.’s 14.
As a team, the Buckeyes shot nearly 55 percent from the field, including 36.8 percent from three-point range against South Carolina State. Ohio State has 18 assists, balanced by 15 turnovers. Defensively, Ohio State held the Bulldogs to 37.1 percent shooting and under 16 percent from range, limiting them to just three assists on the afternoon.
The Buckeyes look to continue their streak against Samford tonight. The Bulldogs, meanwhile, are off to their best start in years on what’s been an epic rebuilding year, having lost 10 lettermen, including all five starters, from last season’s 10-22 season. The Bulldogs are 5-0 on the young season — their best start since 1997-98 — with wins over North Alabama, Jacksonville State, Kennesaw State, Miles College and, most recently, Cleveland State, whom Ohio State faces in St. John Arena later this week.
Samford is led by Scott Padgett, who holds a 62-76 overall record as he enters his fifth season as head coach of the Bulldogs.
In their most recent outing against Cleveland State, the Bulldogs shot 48 percent from the field, and connected on 8-of-20 three-point attempts. Junior Brandon Austin led the charge for Samford, recording 21 points on the day — a career high for the guard. The Buckeyes will also have to be on the lookout for senior center Ruben Guerrero, who had 26 points and 16 rebounds against Miles College. Guerrero leads his team in scoring on the short season, averaging 17 points and 8.8 rebounds per game.
ESPN BPI: Ohio State 95.2%
Ohio State is 18-1 against teams from the Southern Conference, and 2-0 all-time versus Samford. The pair hasn’t squared off since 2008, however. While Samford has a hot start, so do the Buckeyes, who have home court advantage for the night.
This game could prove tougher than it might seem for the Buckeyes. While the transitive property does not apply in sports, both South Carolina State and Samford have played Cleveland State already this season. The Vikings beat SC State 84-69, and lost to Samford 73-60. It is easily inferred that Samford, as a result, presents more of a challenge than what the Buckeyes have faced against SC State and Purdue Fort Wayne. However, Ohio State has proven more than capable with wins over Creighton and Cincinnati this season.