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Men’s Basketball: Ohio State faces high-speed Creighton offense

Ohio State sophomore forward Kaleb Wesson (34) attempts to get a pass during the second half of the game against Purdue-Fort Wayne on Nov. 11. Ohio State won 107-61. Credit: Amal Saeed | Assistant Photo Editor

Ohio State has played in two very different basketball games to start its season.

In their season opener, the Buckeyes went to Cincinnati and defeated the Bearcats 64-56 in a defensive battle that saw the Bearcats shoot 27.4 percent from the field against a stingy Ohio State defense.

On Sunday, Ohio State took a seven-point halftime lead and turned it into a 46-point blowout, beating Purdue-Fort Wayne 107-61, shooting 60.7 percent overall and 53.6 percent from the 3-point line.

In Ohio State’s upcoming matchup against Creighton, head coach Chris Holtmann said he expects the same high-flying game that the Mastodons provide, while matching the atmosphere of the game against Cincinnati.

“It’s one of the hardest places I’ve ever coached in,” Holtmann said. “This team is fast and tremendous in the open floor and can really spread you out and can put pressure on the rim, so it’s very different, certainly different, than our opener, similar to last game, but they obviously have more size and really gifted players.”

Projected Starters

Ohio State (2-0)

G — C.J. Jackson — Senior, 19.0 ppg, 3.0 rpg. 3.0 apg

G — Luther Muhammad — Freshman, 11.5 ppg, 1.5 rpg, 1.5 apg

F — Kyle Young — Sophomore, 8.5 ppg, 5.0 rpg, 1.5 apg

F — Andre Wesson — Junior, 4.0 ppg, 1.5 rpg, 1.0 apg

F — Kaleb Wesson — Sophomore, 11.5 ppg, 7.0 rpg, 1.0 apg

Creighton (2-0)

G — Ty-Shon Alexander — Sophomore, 16.0 ppg, 4.0 rpg, 2.5 apg

G — Mitch Ballock — Sophomore, 11.5 ppg, 2.5 rpg, 3 apg

G/F — Damien Jefferson — Redshirt sophomore, 11.0 ppg, 7.0 rpg, 1.5 apg

F — Martin Krampelj — Redshirt junior, 10.0 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 0.0 apg

G — Davion Mintz — Junior, 9.0 ppg, 3.5 rpg, 1.5 apg

The Bluejays finished their 2017-18 season with a 21-12 record, good for a No. 8 seed in the NCAA Tournament. Creighton lost to No. 9 Kansas State 69-59 in the first round.

Creighton has started its season with two straight victories, both coming by 11 points or fewer.

Sophomore guard Ty-Shon Alexander leads the Bluejays early with 16 points per game after a 20-point outing against East Tennessee State. Holtmann said he expects head coach Greg McDermott to show his team’s depth and speed on Thursday.

“I think Creighton is a team. While they’re young like we are, I think they’ll be an NCAA Tournament team,” Holtmann said. “Greg’s got a really good group, a lot of talented young players, gifted backcourt, good depth inside, terrific shooting, and they’re always a team that’s well-coached, so gonna be a great challenge for us on the road here.”

The Bluejays are 43-11 at home in their past three seasons, including a 16-2 record in 2017-18.

Redshirt senior guard Keyshawn Woods said this matchup is important for Ohio State moving forward.

“It just shows us what type of group we are, really. We get tested early, we all have adversity and this is the type of adversity we want to have early on,” Woods said. “The great thing that Coach Holtmann did is he made sure that we was in dogfights early on so when we get to league play, we’ll be fine.”

Through two games, Creighton has shot 49.5 percent overall, and 52.6 percent from behind the arc. In their previous season, the Bluejays had the No. 10 offense in the NCAA with 84.3 points per game.

“I think it’s going to be a fast game,” sophomore forward Kaleb Wesson said. “I feel that it’s going to be a lot of scoring, you know. They’re very skilled and they got a great coach. They don’t want to foul a lot, so I bet it’s going to be a lot of possessions.”

Ohio State takes on Creighton on the road at 7 p.m. Thursday.

 

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