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Men’s Basketball: No. 15 Ohio State returns from break to face Bucknell

Ohio State senior point guard C.J. Jackson (3) dribbles the ball down the court during the second half of the game against Minnesota on Dec. 2. Ohio State won 79-59. Credit: Amal Saeed | Assistant Photo Editor

After both teams have taken breaks of at least 10 days, No. 15 Ohio State returns to action with a home matchup against Bucknell on Saturday.

The Buckeyes come into the game winners of two straight and eight of their first nine games to start the season. Even without any games, Ohio State moved up four spots in the most recent AP poll to No. 15, and are No. 19 in the NCAA according to advanced statistics website KenPom.com.

Projected Starters

No. 19 Ohio State (8-1, 2-0 Big Ten)

G — C.J. Jackson — Senior, 12.7 ppg, 3.7 rpg, 3.1 apg

G — Luther Muhammad — Freshman, 8.5 ppg, 3.0 rpg, 2.5 apg

F — Kyle Young — Sophomore, 7.7 ppg, 5.1 rpg, 1.2 apg

F — Andre Wesson — Junior, 7.7 ppg, 3.6 rpg, 1.6 apg

F — Kaleb Wesson — Sophomore, 14.3 ppg, 6.3 rpg, 1.0 apg

Bucknell (4-3)

F/C — Nate Sestina — Senior, 17.0 ppg, 9.0 rpg, 0.4 apg

G — Kimbal Mackenzie — Senior, 16.1 ppg, 2.7 rpg, 3.9 apg

G — Avi Toomer — Junior, 9.9 ppg, 4.4 rpg, 1.7 apg

G — Jimmy Sotos — Sophomore, 9.6 ppg, 4.0 rpg, 5.4 apg

F — Bruce Moore — Junior, 8.9 ppg, 2.7 rpg, 1.0 apg

The Bison also come in on a two-game winning streak, with both victories coming by 13 points or more.

Even with the wins to put them back over .500, Bucknell ranks in the bottom half in the country according to KenPom with a No. 181 ranking.

Bucknell is lead by its veteran core. Senior forward/center Nate Sestina leads with 17 points and nine rebounds per game, followed closely by senior guard Kimbal Mackenzie, who has 16.1 points per game on the year.

Sestina scored 24 points in the Bison’s last victory against La Salle, and has tallied a double-double in three of the five games he has played in this year.

Even with its main offensive threat being a big that focuses on scoring in the paint in Sestina, a 6-foot-9 forward, Bucknell’s scoring depends greatly on 3-point success. This season, the Bison have shot nearly half of their attempts — 180 out of 380 — from behind the arc. Of the 180 shots, they have made 65 of them (36.1 percent).

Bucknell has had a tendency to struggle early in games to this point, being outscored 265-217 in first halves of the seven games played this year. But the Bison have found ways to impress down the stretch, outscoring opponents by 8.9 points per game in the second half.

Most teams prefer to play in their home arenas, but to this point in the season, the Bison are 1-3 on their home court, and a perfect 3-0 playing away from Sojka Pavilion.

Ohio State has won the only matchup in the all-time series, defeating Bucknell 90-62 back in 1986. Overall, the Buckeyes are 21-3 against all current teams in the Patriot League.

Ohio State takes on Bucknell at the Schottenstein Center at noon on Saturday.

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