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Ohio State men’s basketball vs. Morgan State: Game preview and prediction

Before hitting the road for the first time this season on Wednesday to take on North Carolina in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge, Ohio State hosts Morgan State at Value City Arena tonight.

NCAA Basketball: Villanova at Ohio State Joe Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports

After having a few days off to enjoy Thanksgiving festivities, Ohio State gets back to work tonight against Morgan State. The Buckeyes will be back at Value City Arena against the Bears after hosting Kent State on Monday night at St. John Arena.


Ohio State was pushed by Kent State on Monday night for 30 minutes, but the Buckeyes were able to turn up the defense in the final 10 minutes of the game to stay undefeated. The Buckeyes and Golden Flashes were tied at 48 with just over 10 minutes to go before Ohio State rattled off a 17-0 run to put some distance on their in-state foe, and secure a 71-52 victory.

Kaleb Wesson continued his hot start to the season, scoring a season-high 17 points against the Golden Flashes. The junior from Westerville has now reached double figures in each of the last five games. Duane Washington Jr. had his best game of the young season, recording a season-high 16 points and pulling down a career-high seven rebounds. Luther Muhammad added a season-high 13 points.

The Buckeyes are proving to be one of the toughest defensive teams in the country so far this season, allowing just 52 points to Kent State on Monday night. After six games, the Buckeyes still have yet to allow an opponent to score more than 56 points. Cincinnati and UMass-Lowell each scored 56 points in the first two games of the season, but since then the 52 points the Golden Flashes scored have been the most Ohio State has allowed over the last four games.

Ohio State wasn’t able to go as deep into their bench as some of their other early season contests, but the bench of the Buckeyes was still head and shoulders above the competition. The Buckeyes bench outscored Kent State’s 21-6 on Monday night, with D.J. Carton leading the way off the bench for Ohio State with 11 points.

The Buckeyes continue to be led by Kaleb Wesson, who is averaging 12.7 points per game this year and 9.5 rebounds. Wesson is still a couple points behind his scoring average last year, but he has seen an uptick in his scoring over the last three games. What Wesson has been doing over that span has been even more impressive considering he hasn’t played more than 21 minutes in each of those three games.

The biggest riser for Ohio State last game was Duane Washington Jr., who reached double figures in scoring for just the second time this season. The sophomore guard is now averaging 10.3 points per game this year. Washington hasn’t taken long to find his range from behind the arc this year, hitting 13 of his 21 three-point attempts over the last five games.

Ohio State now turns their attention to the Morgan State Bears. The Buckeyes have met the Bears on two previous occasions, winning both games. The most recent contest between the schools came back in 2013, with Ohio State easily winning 89-50. Lenzelle Smith Jr. led the way for the Buckeyes with Ohio State, while LaQuinton Ross added a double-double, finishing with 14 points and 11 rebounds.

The Buckeyes will be playing their 22nd game all-time against a MEAC school tonight. Ohio State has had little trouble with teams from the conference, winning all 21 of their previous contests with MEAC schools. The last time the Buckeyes played a team from the MEAC came last year when they easily handled South Carolina State 89-61. Kaleb Wesson was Ohio State’s leading scorer in that game with 18 points, while Duane Washington Jr. added 14 points off the bench.

Morgan State comes into this game not having played since Sunday, but the Bears needed some extra time off after their latest contest. Morgan State lost to Evansville, who earlier this year beat top-ranked Kentucky, 115-112 in triple overtime. The loss not only extended Morgan State’s losing streak to three games, but also dropped the Bears to 3-5 so far this season.

The Morgan State basketball program is in transition after making a coaching change in the offseason. Now at the helm for the Bears is Kevin Broadus, who spent the last two seasons as an assistant at Maryland. Broadus has previous head coaching experience, as he coached Binghamton for two seasons from 2007-09. While Broadus did lead the Bearcats to the NCAA Tournament in 2008, he was fired after an NCAA investigation found he contacted high school players during a no-contact period.

Broadus is taking over for Todd Bozeman, who was the head coach at Morgan State from 2006-19. Bozeman was 195-218 in his 13 seasons at Morgan State, but he did lead the school to their only two NCAA Tournament appearances. In 2009, the Bears made the NCAA Tournament for this first time in school history, losing to Oklahoma in the first round. Morgan State returned to the tournament the next season, losing again in the first round to Oklahoma.

Morgan State is led in scoring by Stanley Davis, who is averaging 12.6 points per game and 5.5 rebounds per game. After averaging 7.3 points per game in his sophomore season, the guard took a big step last year, upping his scoring to 12.5 points per game and 7.1 rebounds per game. In the triple overtime loss to Evansville, Davis finished with a season-high 21 points.

Along with Davis, Morgan State has a trio of players who are averaging at least 10 points per game. Sophomore guard Sherwyn Devonish-Prince Jr. is averaging 10.5 points per game this year, and has reached double figures in scoring in all but one game so far this year. Devonish-Prince already has plenty of experience after averaging 28 minutes per game last year and 10.7 points per game.

Morgan State’s most productive big man is Troy Baxter Jr., who is a transfer from Florida Gulf-Coast. The junior forward is averaging 10.4 points per game and a team-high 6.6 rebounds per game. Baxter had his best game of the season against Evansville, recording a double-double, finishing with 30 points and 10 rebounds against the Aces.

Rounding out the double-digit scorers for the Bears is another guard. Sophomore Isaiah Burke is averaging 10 points per game on the dot so far this year. Like Devonish-Prince, Burke did see some time last season, averaging 19 minutes per game. While Burke didn’t see as much time as Devonish-Prince, he did make the most of his time on the court, averaging 9.3 points per game.

Ohio State is going to have to be wary of the full-court pressure that Broadus wants his Morgan State team to apply. The defense might be a work-in-progress for the Bears, but it has already paid some dividends this year, as Morgan State was able to beat George Washington 68-64 earlier this year. The downside for the Bears is their style of defense can lead to some foul trouble.


ESPN BPI: Ohio State 97.3%

The numbers say this should be a dominating win for Ohio State, but as we have seen in college basketball this year, you can’t take anything for granted. What is going to benefit the Buckeyes in this matchup is their defense is so good it won’t give up many baskets to Morgan State, which won’t let the Bears setup their full-court pressure defense. Even when Morgan State is able to pressure the Buckeyes, Ohio State has talented guards like C.J. Walker and D.J. Carton, who should be able to break the press and get the Buckeyes down the floor.

Against Kent State, the Buckeyes were only able to get three of their bench players into the game. That shouldn’t be the case tonight. As long as Ohio State is able to put some distance on the Bears early on, guys like Alonzo Gaffney, Justin Ahrens, and Ibrahima Diallo should get some valuable experience ahead of next week, when the schedule starts to get tougher.

This game has the feeling like it could look more like the Stetson and Purdue Fort Wayne games earlier this season and less like the Kent State game on Monday night. Even though Kevin Broadus is a talented coach who should be able to get things turned around at Morgan State, Ohio State is just too deep and talented for the Bears to give the Buckeyes a scare tonight.

LGHL Prediction: 84-47 Ohio State