Well kids, it’s that time again. The final game before No. 9 Kansas comes to town Dec. 22, barring any truths to all those apocalyptic predictions everyone is buzzing about. Tonight, the Buckeyes face Winthrop out of the Big South Conference. Sure, you might be quick to judge and think “oh, this is another non-conference opponent from some school without a football team, somewhere else” (South Carolina, in case you were wondering). But, don’t count the 4-4 Eagles out just yet. They are currently are on a two-game win streak high, one that includes beating Ohio University (the one that beat Michigan on the basketball court last year, not to be confused with our football team) 50-49 in an overtime win on the road. All five starters are back for that OU squad, so it’s not like they had a ton of young guns running around either.
Of course, No. 7 Ohio State is on its own momentum kick. The Buckeyes are coming off a 90-72 victory over UNC-Asheville to go 8-1. The only blip in the record is the Duke game, on the road, in which the Buckeyes seemed to shock everyone by keeping the contest close. The Buckeyes are averaging 80.1 points per game and are beating opponents by a 22.7 scoring margin. This was higher going into the weekend, but UNC-Asheville only ended down 18.
Deshaun Thomas, who capped his 1,000-career point total against Duke, is the leading scorer for Ohio State and the B1G Ten, with 20.3 points per game and 6.3 rebounds per game. Lenzelle Smith, Jr., and LaQuinton Ross are right behind him averaging 11.2 and 10.3 points, respectively. Meanwhile, our favorite reason for ultimate swoonage, Aaron Craft, is just 16 points shy of reaching 700. This very well could be the game he reaches that mark, however his biggest strength continues to be on the assist front, with 4.8 per game, only behind teammate Shannon Scott and TTUN’s Trey Burke in the B1G.
Ohio State is 14-0 against opponents from the Big South, but, again, don’t prepare yourself for Winthrop to come out quiet.
Leading scorer for the Eagles are sophomore guard Derrick Henry, averaging 15,6 points per game and a 75-percent free throw average, while sophomore Larry Brown is the Eagles’ top rebounder, averaging 5.8 per game. During the OU game, it was sophomore Andre Smith and junior Joab Jerome who were key to victory along with Henry. Smith had two threes in the second half, while Jerome had four points, both of which shots made it a two-possession game. Winthrop held the Bobcats to just 27-percent shooting in the second half.
The action takes place tonight at 7 on Big Ten Network. This will be the second all-time meeting between Winthrop and Ohio State. The first was more than 10 years ago early in the 2001-03 season. Ohio State won 78-54. If Ohio State wins this game, it will be their 39th straight non-conference home win. Thad Matta is 75-2.