Ohio-Ohio St. Preview
Ohio State coach Thad Matta was concerned about his team's ability to rebound the basketball, but it appears he may not have much to worry about going forward.
The No. 10 Buckeyes will look to come out with another strong effort on the glass when they host Ohio on Tuesday night.
Ohio State (1-0) climbed one spot in this week's AP rankings after cruising to its 10th consecutive season-opening win, 89-50 over Morgan State on Saturday. Lenzelle Smith Jr. led the way with 18 points and nine rebounds as the Buckeyes took a 49-23 lead into halftime and never looked back.
Ohio State also got big games from juniors LaQuinton Ross and Shannon Scott, who were making their first career starts. Ross had 14 points and a career-high 11 boards for his first double-double while Scott contributed 16 points and seven assists.
"For Shannon, him seeing the ball go through the basket, you see that hard work pay off that obviously gives you that boost of confidence," Matta said. "For LaQuinton, we knew we were losing a great rebounder in Deshaun (Thomas). That's one of the things we've questioned about this team - where's the rebounding going to come from? He did a very nice job of rebounding out of his area. We're going to need that from him."
The Buckeyes outrebounded the Bears 55-34, including 17-12 on the offensive glass.
"We've been working on rebounding a lot in practices, just because our team is really not that big," said the 6-foot-8 Ross, one of only three Buckeyes taller than 6-7. "We've definitely been working on everybody pitching in and getting rebounds.
"It's the first game of the year, we've got a long season ahead and we're going to continue doing what we did (Saturday)."
While star point guard Aaron Craft finished with just five points on 1-of-5 shooting, he added six boards and six assists. Marc Loving and Sam Thompson scored a combined 24 off the bench.
"(That balance) makes it really hard for our team to be guarded," Scott said. "They really can't focus in on one player. Everybody on the court is capable of scoring now."
Ohio State also clamped down defensively, holding Morgan State to 30.8 percent shooting.
"That is just our brand of basketball, five guys being connected out there," Smith said. "Our defense is what turns our offense to being so good. We come down, we get a stop, it ignites us."
The Buckeyes now try to slow down the Bobcats (1-0), who shot 51.9 percent during Saturday's 75-64 win over Northern Iowa. Junior college transfer Maurice Ndour had 20 points while senior Nick Kellogg added 14 of his 16 in the second half.
"Everybody who stepped on the floor for us did some things they can improve on and did some things that helped us win the game," coach Jim Christian said. "The game is played so fast that everybody has got to contribute if you want to have a good team. ... Good things can happen if everyone's on the right page."
The Bobcats, 4-17 all-time against Ohio State, haven't faced the Buckeyes since a 78-67 victory in the 1994 preseason NIT tournament.
"We're challenging ourselves with the schedule because we believe we have the potential," said Kellogg, who was named MAC East Player of the Week." Our goal is to get better each and every day."
Ohio has lost seven straight road games against ranked opponents by an average of 21.6 points since beating then-No. 12 Syracuse 61-55 on Dec. 4, 1998.