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Men’s Basketball: No. 14 Ohio State returns to Big Ten play against No. 8 Michigan State

Ohio State sophomore forward Kyle Young (25) and sophomore forward Kaleb Wesson (34) defend against a member of South Carolina State’s basketball team during the first half of the game on Nov. 18. Ohio State won 89-61. Credit: Amal Saeed | Assistant Photo Editor

Ohio State, for the most part, took advantage of its non-conference play.

Adding two double-digit Big Ten wins against Minnesota and Illinois, the Buckeyes have won 12 of 13 games, averaging 78 points per game, allowing opponents to shoot 38.2 percent from the field and recording a scoring margin of 16.1 points.

However, in the first game of their permanent return to Big Ten play through the regular season, the Buckeyes will have their toughest task yet this season: No. 8 Michigan State.

No. 14 Ohio State (12-1, 2-0 Big Ten)

G — C.J. Jackson — Senior, 13.6 ppg, 4.3 rpg, 3.8 apg

G — Luther Muhammad — Freshman, 9.3 ppg, 2.8 rpg, 2.2 apg

F — Kyle Young — Sophomore, 7.5 ppg, 5.2 rpg, 1.1 apg

F — Andre Wesson — Junior, 7.4 ppg, 4.4 rpg, 1.8 apg

F — Kaleb Wesson — Sophomore, 16.5 ppg, 6.8 rpg, 1.6 apg

No. 8 Michigan State (12-2, 3-0 Big Ten)

G — Cassius Winston — Junior, 17.1 ppg, 2.4 rpg, 7.8 apg

G — Joshua Langford — Junior, 15.0 ppg, 3.6 rpg, 2.3 apg

G — Matt McQuaid — Senior, 7.8 ppg, 2.4 rpg, 2.4 apg

F — Nick Ward — Junior, 16.4 ppg, 6.4 rpg, 1.0 apg

F — Kenny Goins — Redshirt senior, 6.6 ppg, 9.4 rpg, 2.4 apg

The Spartans will come to Columbus, Ohio with the No. 1 scoring offense in the Big Ten, averaging 87.1 points per game and shooting 50.7 percent from the field. Michigan State also holds the No. 1 field goal defense in the conference, allowing opponents to shoot 36.9 percent from the field.

Michigan State has two losses in 14 games this season: a 5-point loss to No. 1 Kansas and a 4-point loss to Louisville, both games away from East Lansing.

Since the loss to the Cardinals on Nov. 27, the Spartans have won seven-straight games, scoring 75 points or more in six of those games.

Ohio State has not allowed an opponent to score 75 points this season, allowing a season-high 72 points to Syracuse in its only loss of the season.

Michigan State has been led by its three juniors in the starting lineup,, each averaging double-digit point totals: guard Cassius Winston (17.1), guard Joshua Langford (15.0) and forward Nick Ward (16.4), who is also a Gahanna, Ohio native.

In the backcourt, Langford and Winston have proved an ability to shoot consistently from 3-point range, combining to make 43.1 percent of their shots from team, leading the Spartans that are No. 1 in the Big Ten in 3-point shot percentage, making 40.8 percent of attempts.

Along with Ward at forward, Michigan State has redshirt senior Kenny Goins, who leads the team with 9.4 rebounds. The Spartans also have some bench depth in the frontcourt, with sophomore forward Xavier Tillman averaging 8.1 rebounds per game and shooting a team-high 70.6 percent from the field in 21.2 minutes per game.

The Spartans are the No. 4 team in the country according to KenPom. The highest rated team Ohio State has faced this season is Cincinnati, who, after losing to the Buckeyes, is the No. 22 team in the country.

Michigan State will be the first ranked opponent Ohio State will face this season. During the 2017-18 season, the Buckeyes won two of five matchups against ranked teams in the regular season, including a win against No. 1 Michigan State.

No. 14 Ohio State and No. 8 Michigan State will tip off at the Schottenstein Center at noon Saturday.

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