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Ohio State men’s basketball vs. High Point: Game preview, prediction

The Buckeyes battle the Panthers as they close out non-conference play.

NCAA Basketball: UCLA at Ohio State David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

After traveling to Chicago for a neutral site game in the their last time out, Ohio State (11-1) will return home for one final exhibition before resuming Big Ten play. The Buckeyes face-off against High Point (6-6) at Value City Arena in Columbus on Saturday at noon ET. The game will be broadcast on BTN.


Preview

In their last time out, Ohio State played a closely contested game at the United Center against UCLA before pulling away in the latter stages of the second period, going on to win 80-66. While the Buckeyes looked like they would again struggle against a zone defense, as they did in their lone loss to Syracuse, Chris Holtmann’s second-half adjustments were enough to put OSU on top despite some poor shooting.

Kaleb Wesson shined yet again, posting his second double-double in his last three games with 15 points and 12 rebounds. C.J. Jackson was the star of the second half, scoring 20 of his 22 points in the second period while adding seven boards and six assists. Ball movement was the real key to victory against the Bruins’ tough zone, as Ohio State had 26 assists on their 28 made field goals.

On the defensive end, Andre Wesson posted a career-high five blocks, while Kyle Young picked up two steals to go along with his 11 points and six rebounds, including being on the receiving end of a pretty alley-oop dunk on a pass from half-court by Keyshawn Woods. The Buckeyes held yet another opponent under 70 points, having done so in all but two of their games this season. As a team they held UCLA to 22 percent shooting from deep, and won the battle on the boards 41-34.

Kaleb Wesson is having himself quite the sophomore season. Ohio State’s big man earned his first Big Ten Player of the Week award last week after averaging 23 points and 9.5 rebounds against UCLA and Youngstown State. He is the first Buckeye to win the award since Keita Bates-Diop in February. While this year’s OSU squad has really thrived on ball movement and unselfishness, Wesson has seemingly been the go-to guy when the team is in need of easy offense.

High Point has had a pretty slow start to the season, losing three of their first four games. They have, however, won three of their last four, coming up short in their latest contest, a 74-59 loss to Richmond. The Panthers were never quite in the game, trailing 39-25 after the first period. Despite a 23-point performance from their leading scorer Jahaad Proctor, they were unable to battle back. While Proctor led all scorers in the game, he shot just 8-of-21 from the field and 1-of-7 from deep.

Proctor is without a doubt High Point’s biggest threat on offense, averaging 22.3 points per game this season. The junior guard has scored at least 20 points in all but three contests this year, dropping a career-high 35 points against NC Wesleyan on Dec. 17. The Panthers are not a high-scoring team, ranking 305th of 353 teams in points per game with 68.2. They are middle of the road on defense, ranking 143rd allowing under 70 points per game.

The matchup is only the second time these two schools have faced off, with Ohio State winning the previous contest 97-43 in 2014. While the Buckeyes have not seen much of High Point, they have seen their head coach Tubby Smith, formerly the head coach at Minnesota, who is 3-8 all-time against Ohio State. The Panthers have played only six games against current members of the Big Ten, losing all six. Coaching six seasons with the Golden Gophers, Smith holds a 73-79 record against the Big Ten.


Prediction

ESPN BPI: OSU 97.1%

Vegas Line: N/A

This is a bad matchup for High Point, whose already low-scoring offense will have to go up against Ohio State’s 19th-ranked defense. The Buckeyes are allowing just under 62 points per game this season, and the Panthers have not faced a tougher opponent this year and likely won't for the rest of the season either. High Point hasn’t faced off with a ranked team since 2014 — the game they lost to Ohio State, when the Bucks were ranked No. 12.

The Buckeyes have one final game to tune things up before jumping into the meat of the Big Ten schedule. While OSU has won each of its last five games, they have struggled shooting the ball. If they wish to compete against the top-tier teams in their conference, which they will in their next time out when they take on No. 8 Michigan State, they will have to get more offensively from their guards.

Look for Ohio State to continue to do what they do best: move the ball around to find the best scoring opportunity. Kaleb Wesson will look to stay hot, but should the Buckeyes get out ahead quickly, young guys like Luther Muhammad and Duane Washington could be in for big games as OSU tries to get more scoring out of the freshmen in preparation for the Big Ten season.

LGHL Final Score Prediction: 85-61 Ohio State