After a real nail-biter against Bucknell on Saturday, the Buckeyes (9-1) held serve at No. 15 in the latest AP Poll. Ohio State will continue their last stretch of non-conference opponents this Tuesday, when they will take on Youngstown State (4-8) in Columbus. The in-state matchup will be broadcast at 7 p.m. ET on BTN.
In their last time out, the Buckeyes trailed by as many as eight points early in the second period against the Bucknell Bison. Thanks to a full-team effort led by Kaleb Wesson, OSU was able to come away with a narrow 73-71 victory in their first game following a 10-day break for final exams.
Wesson finished with a career-high 22 points to go along with 10 boards as the Bison had no answer for the sophomore’s size and strength inside. Keyshawn Woods played a key role as well, finishing with 13 points including a couple huge shots with the Buckeyes trailing early in the second half. C.J. Jackson filled up the stat sheet with 10 points, eight rebounds and six assists, and despite Bucknell putting up a three-pointer as time expired to potentially win the game, it would fall just short and Ohio State snuck away with a two-point victory.
In a scary moment for the Buckeyes, Kaleb’s brother Andre Wesson would go to the locker room midway through the second period after hitting his head on the floor. He would return to the floor a short time after, despite reportedly cracking three teeth in the incident. The elder of the Wesson brothers is expected to play in Tuesday’s game against the Penguins.
Ohio State has thrived this season on team basketball, with scoring coming from all over the floor. They have featured a good balance of senior leadership from guys like Jackson and Woods, while also seeing an influx of youth from freshmen like Luther Muhammad and Duane Washington Jr. The Bucks will look to continue their fast start against fellow Ohioan program Youngstown State.
The Penguins are in a real tough stretch right now, losers of four of their last five games. They did, however, pick up a win in their last time out against Binghamton. Darius Quisenberry led YSU with 14 points, as the Penguins were in control for the majority of the game en route to a 58-48 victory. YSU out-rebounded the Bearcats 43-30 to help give them their first road win in five attempts.
Quisenberry and Garrett Covington will be two players to watch for the Penguins. Covington leads the team in scoring with 12.8 points per game while also averaging just over five boards. Covington posted career-highs in both points and rebounds against Central Michigan in early December, when he dropped 26 and 13 in his first career double-double. Quisenberry, despite being a freshman, is second on the team in scoring at just under 10 points per game.
Youngstown State likes to shoot from downtown, knocking down at least 10 three-pointers in five different games and at least eight in 10 of their first 12 contests. Another area they excel in is rebounding, where they rank fifth in the nation with 509 total boards. YSU is led on the glass by forward Naz Bohannon, who is averaging nearly 10 rebounds per game. Bohannon was one of the top rebounders in the Horizon league a season ago, when he finished with 8.1 boards per game.
Vegas Line (as of Monday night): OSU - 26.5
ESPN BPI: OSU 98%
While the two teams are both averaging around 78 points per game, there is a huge disparity in their defensive numbers. YSU has allowed a whopping 82 points per contest, while Ohio State is allowing just under 62. The Penguins rank 294th defensively of 353 teams, while the Buckeyes are ranked 30th. Despite a similar scoring output, OSU is also much more efficient on offense, ranking 49th in the category compared to YSU’s 234th.
Their close contest against Bucknell was likely a fluke, as the team was probably experiencing a bit of rust after a week and a half layoff. Ohio State should come in energized and ready to play, this time looking for a bit more separation between themselves and an inferior opponent. YSU will get their points, especially since the Buckeyes have been a bit susceptible to the three-ball early in the year, but ultimately their defense and ability to spread the ball around will make them victorious in this one.
The Penguins struggle on the defensive end, and with OSU not featuring any one single go-to scoring option, it will make it much harder to lock them down. Look for another big scoring day for Kaleb Wesson, as well as a potential offensive outburst from Muhammad. Buckeyes win big and earn their 10th victory of the season.