The last time Ohio State and Marquette faced off on the hardwood, it was “brutal.”
At least that’s what OSU coach Thad Matta said Monday of the Buckeyes’ 52-35 win against the Golden Eagles last season.
Now a year and two days later, the No. 20 Buckeyes (1-0) are set to take on Marquette (1-0) once again, and a similar offensive output might not get it done for OSU this time around.
“We’re gonna have to score a lot more this year if we want to win,” senior guard Shannon Scott said Monday.
Matta said he hopes the game will involve more scoring, and said he expects the pace to be faster than last year’s matchup in Milwaukee.
“I think this will be an up-and-down, high-octane type game,” he said.
If last year’s matchup was a sign of things to come — both teams finished the season with double-digit losses and OSU lost in the first round of the NCAA tournament while the Golden Eagles failed to make it to the postseason — the Buckeyes and Marquette might both have some confidence heading into Tuesday’s matchup.
OSU won its first game of the season, 92-55, against the University of Massachusetts-Lowell on Friday, while the Golden Eagles topped Tennessee-Martin by 16 points the same day.
After not getting a chance to watch tape on UMass-Lowell, Scott said the Buckeyes have a better idea of what to expect from Marquette.
“Now we just know for Marquette who the shooters are, who’s gonna be able to drive the ball, who their big men are,” Scott said. “So it’s gonna be different now.”
While watching film has helped the Buckeyes identify some keys to the Golden Eagles’ game, some things were already clear before turning on the TV.
Among the 11 players listed on Marquette’s roster, just one stands taller than 6-foot-7. But that one player — sophomore center Luke Fischer, who is a transfer from Indiana — won’t be eligible to play until Dec. 14, per NCAA transfer regulations. On the other bench, the Buckeyes had three players who measure at least 6-feet, 8-inches contribute in their season opener.
Scott acknowledged that his team has a size advantage, but added the Golden Eagles make up for it by ramping up the defensive pressure.
“Height-wise they might be smaller, but they’ve got a lot of pressure defenses that we’re gonna have to be ready for,” he said. “They have a lot of players that can press us and really pressure the ball, so it’s gonna be tough for us.”
He added that Marquette is a “great team,” and stressed that the Buckeyes have to be ready for a gritty matchup.
“They got a lot of talent, they’re gonna be really physical and play tough against us,” Scott said. “So we know that if we don’t come ready to play, they can beat us.”
Matta agreed that defensive pressure will be a focal point for the Golden Eagles, and noted that Marquette forced 19 turnovers in its opener. The Buckeyes turned the ball over just nine times against UMass-Lowell, and their coach added he expects his team to keep playing aggressively against an aggressive defense.
“We’re gonna take risks,” he said. “We’re gonna turn the ball over, hopefully not very much.”
Matta added that rebounding and communication will play big roles in the game if the Buckeyes want to come away with a win.
With just one game to evaluate his new roster — three true freshmen, a redshirt-freshman and a fifth-year senior transfer all made their OSU debuts last Friday — Matta said he wants to see his players figure out exactly how they fit into the team dynamic.
“This is definitely a role type of basketball team, and the quicker they come to the realization of who they are and what they need to do, that ties up a lot of our loose ends,” he said.
While there are rebounders, shutdown defenders and passers mixed in, the Buckeyes’ season opener revealed a plethora of players who have the ability to score. Five OSU players — led by freshman guard D’Angelo Russell with 16 points — scored in double figures in the game. Sophomore forward Marc Loving and senior forward Sam Thompson both added 14 while redshirt-senior forward Anthony Lee had 13 and redshirt-freshman guard Kam Williams chipped in with 12 points in just 13 minutes.
Scott pitched in with 11 assists as the Buckeyes shot 37-of-60 from the field and connected on nine three-pointers.
With an aggressive defensive team up next on the schedule, Williams said the Golden Eagles will be hard-pressed to slow down the plethora of talent on OSU’s offense.
“We’ve got so many different weapons that it’s gonna be hard to stop all of us at the same time,” Williams said Monday. “No matter what.”
Tipoff is set for Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. at the Schottenstein Center.