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Men’s Basketball: No. 16 Ohio State opens Big Ten play against Minnesota

Ohio State freshman guard Duane Washington Jr. (4) dribbles the ball down the court during the first half of the game against Cleveland State on Nov. 23. Ohio State won 89-62. Credit: Amal Saeed | Assistant Photo Editor

After suffering its first loss of the season to Syracuse on Wednesday, No. 16 Ohio State comes back home to open conference play against Minnesota.

The Golden Gophers share the same record as the Buckeyes through seven games, winning six times, with their only loss also coming in the ACC-Big Ten Challenge in a 68-56 defeat against Boston College.

Projected Starters

No. 16 Ohio State (6-1)

G — C.J. Jackson — Senior, 13.6 ppg, 3.9 rpg, 2.7 apg

F — Andre Wesson — Junior, 7.0 ppg, 3.6 rpg, 1.6 apg

F — Kaleb Wesson — Sophomore, 14.4 ppg, 6.4 rpg, 1.0 apg

G — Keyshawn Woods — Redshirt senior, 8.0 ppg, 3.0 rpg, 3.1 apg

F — Kyle Young — Sophomore, 7.6 ppg, 4.7 rpg, 0.7 apg

Minnesota

G —  Amir Coffey — Junior, 13.6 ppg, 2.3 rpg, 2.9 apg

G — Gabe Kalscheur — Freshman, 13.6 ppg, 2.4 rpg, 1.4 apg

G — Dupree McBrayer — Senior, 9.6 ppg, 2.1 rpg, 2.3 apg

F — Jordan Murphy — Senior, 15.7 ppg, 12.7 rpg, 3.4 apg

F — Daniel Oturu — Freshman, 8.1 ppg, 6.4 rpg, 0.4 apg

The Buckeyes will play their first game without freshman guard Luther Muhammad in the lineup. He dislocated his shoulder against the Orange and is out indefinitely.

In his place, Ohio State head coach Chris Holtmann said redshirt senior guard Keyshawn Woods and freshman guard Duane Washington will be getting added minutes in his place.

“Starting is really overrated in my book,” Holtmann said. “You’re looking for who can play starter minutes, and both Keyshawn and Duane at times have done that this year, so I would expect that both of those guys will be guys that we’ll consider putting in the lineup.”

Minnesota ranks No. 51 in the NCAA, according to advanced statistics website KenPom.com, good for No. 12 of 14 teams in the Big Ten.

Senior forward Jordan Murphy leads the Golden Gophers with 15.7 points and 12.7 rebounds per game, shooting 53.1 percent from the field.

Holtmann called Murphy a candidate for Big Ten Player of the Year, but sophomore forward Kaleb Wesson complimented Murphy’s ability to be a leader for the team.

“They’re gonna bring energy, they play with a lot of energy,” Wesson said. “They got guys who are willing to crash the boards, and they got a good leader in Jordan Murphy so I feel like it’s going to be a real tough game.”

The Golden Gophers hold an advantage against the Buckeyes in size: Minnesota averages six rebounds per game more than opponents this season, and 2.9 more than Ohio State has through seven games.

“This is one of the longest teams we’ll play, 6-8 point guard, length on the interior across the board, really at every position,” Holtmann said. “That’s a battle we’re gonna lose most times if you just square us up length, but Minnesota definitely has that.”

This is the second straight year Ohio State, and the rest of the Big Ten, will play in-conference games starting in December instead of after the new calendar year.

For Washington, he didn’t even know in-conference play was already only days away.

“Honestly I didn’t really, I didn’t think Big Ten play was gonna be the eighth game that we played, didn’t see that looking at it, it just kind of snuck up on me a little bit,” Washington said. “I feel that we’re in a good spot, we’re really together, but yeah, everybody telling me that Big Ten play is a different animal, you know I’m really excited for it,

Ohio State takes on Minnesota at home at 7 p.m. on Sunday.

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