Tonight, Ohio State has the opportunity to add a massive win to its resume against Texas A&M, and dare I say even snag a few AP votes while they’re at it. The Aggies visit Ohio State as the first part of a two-year home-and-home series and present the biggest challenge the Buckeyes will see for several weeks.
Last week, the guys both picked something that you needed to watch for in the Buckeyes’ season-opener against Oakland, Connor said to pay attention to defensive rebounding, while Justin picked the allotment of minutes at center between Felix Okpara and Zed Key. 88% of the people who followed the debate thought defensive rebounding was a more pertinent area of concern heading into the first game.
After 125 weeks:
(There have been four ties)
After squeaking past Oakland, Ohio State will now see a sharp increase in difficulty as the Aggies, led by the exuberant but gruff Buzz Williams, visit the Schottenstein Center. The list of things the Buckeyes need to improve on from their first game is not short — if they were perfect, they wouldn’t have trailed for as long as they did against the Golden Grizzlies. But if it was up to you, what would be your main focus if you were hypothetically preparing this Ohio State team for Texas A&M?
Today’s Question: What is the main key to victory against Texas A&M?
Connor: Knock down a bunch of threes
Ohio State doesn’t have the experience that Texas A&M does, nor does it bring the same physicality to the game that Buzz Williams’ squad will Friday night. One area that I do think Ohio State has the advantage, however, is beyond the arc.
A&M has two respectable shooters in Wade Taylor — the SEC Pre-Season Player of the Year — and Hayden Hefner. Last season, Taylor shot 36% from three-point range and Hefner was right at 35%. Both of those marks are respectable, not not lights-out or anything. In A&M’s first game of the season against Texas A&M Commerce, Taylor and Hefner combined to knock down 7-13 three-pointers.
In Bruce Thornton and Jamison Battle, Ohio State has two shooters better than A&M’s best two shooters. As the season goes on, I think Scotty Middleton will turn into a shooter who hovers around that 36% mark as well, if not better. Since A&M is the more well-balanced and experienced team, the Buckeyes will need to make up for the deficiencies somewhere — I think it needs to be from beyond the arc.
Against Oakland, Ohio State shot a ton of three-pointers because they weren’t able to move the ball against the zone and were settling. Very few of those threes came with time and space, and that’s a big reason they went 7-25 from downtown. It wouldn’t surprise anyone if Williams threw a zone at the Buckeyes for a while because of this, but I also think they’ll be in man-to-man quite a bit this evening. Even though Texas A&M is a much better team than Oakland, Ohio State will feel more comfortable running their offense against a more traditional defensive set, rather than a 1-1-3 (or 1-3-1, I don’t even remember) zone.
Texas A&M is not going to be out-physicaled by Ohio State. They probably won’t be out-rebounded. They have bigger, stronger guys in the post and one of the best point guards in the nation. Th Buckeyes have the home-court advantage, but not many other advantages in this matchup. Because of that, their good shooters need to show up Friday night. Battle and Thornton cannot combine to go 5-14 again. Roddy Gayle can’t go 0-4 again. Ohio State shouldn’t take ill-advised three-pointers, but they’ll need to out-shoot Texas A&M to win this game because it is one of the few areas they have an advantage on paper.
Justin: Jamison Battle has to be a threat on offense
The Buckeyes are 1-0, but it was not the prettiest opening game. I don’t try to take away too much from just the first game because there are so many things the team and the coaches are trying to figure out.
However, they will have to play better against Texas A&M to start the season 2-0. And if they do beat the Aggies, they will start to gain some early national buzz, which is always fun
So, what do they have to do better? They have to get Jamison Battle more involved.
Don’t get me wrong, Battle played fine in the first game, but he did most of his damage in the first three minutes of the game. Battle finished with nine points on 3-for-8 shooting and 2-for-7 shooting from the three-point line.
Bruce Thornton, Zed Key, and Roddy Gayle combined for 51 of the Buckeye’s 79 points against Oakland, and Texas A&M will be able to throw a lot of different looks at them defensively, so Battle will have to step up and give them another threat the Aggies will have to account for.
Oakland head coach Greg Kampe said after the game that one of their main focuses on defense was to force Battle to put the ball on the floor and take away his three-point shooting ability. He was only 2-for-7 from deep and started 2-for-3, so their plan was fairly successful.
If Ohio State is going to beat Texas A&M, they will need double figures from Battle and likely 15 points or more.
What is a more important key for Ohio State to upset Texas A&M?
This poll is closed
Light it up from downtown (Connor)
Jamison Battle being more impactful (Justin)