Inquirer Daily News

Savannah State faces tough task in clash with No. 7 Ohio State

Columbus, OH (Sports Network) - The seventh-ranked Ohio State Buckeyes continue their season-long, eight-game homestand on Wednesday night when they entertain the Savannah State Tigers.

Savannah State has hovered around .500 for much of the first month of the season, as it has yet to win or lose three consecutive games. The Tigers recently wrapped up a three-game homestand with wins over Western Illinois (39-38) and Robert Morris (61-52), and a loss versus Norfolk State (55-45). They will now play their next five games on the road.

Ohio State's only loss this season has come on the road against second-ranked Duke (73-68), which caused it to take a small dive in the polls from No. 4 to No. 7. The Buckeyes bounced back nicely since that difficult defeat however, winning back-to-back games over Northern Kentucky (70-43) and Long Beach State (89-55) to move to 6-1.

This tilt marks the inaugural matchup between these two programs in men's basketball.

The Tigers have been very inconsistent at the offensive end of the floor, making just 40.1 percent of their field goal attempts for 54.1 ppg, but they have been able to win more games than they've lost thanks to a stellar scoring yield (53.0 ppg) and a solid effort on the glass (plus-7.0 rebounding margin). Holding Norfolk State to 55 points in their latest game wasn't enough however, as they committed more turnovers (19) than made field goals (18) in the 10- point defeat. Stephen Wilson led Savannah State with 13 points, while Preston Blackman scored 12 -- although the two combined to shoot just 9-of-24 from the field. Arnold Louis came off the bench and grabbed a game-high 10 rebounds. On the season, Rashad Hassan is the team's leading scorer with 13.2 ppg on 58.1 percent shooting, while Blackman puts up 11.0 ppg with much lower field goal efficiency (.373). Jyles Smith has scored a total of only 15 points through nine games (1.7 ppg), but he is a physical presence in the frontcourt with 6.3 caroms and 3.3 blocks per contest.

Ohio State has played exceptionally well at both ends of the court as it ranks in the top-15 nationally in assist-to-turnover ratio (plus-1.6), fewest turnovers per game (9.3), scoring margin (plus-20.9), and field goal percentage defense (.362). The dominance continued in the 34-point win over Long Beach State last Saturday, as the Buckeyes made 47 percent of their field goal attempts and easily won the rebounding battle, 49-33. Pacing four players in double figures was Deshaun Thomas with 18 points, and his 20.6 ppg ranks 17th in the country. The junior forward also paces the squad in rebounding (6.1 pg) and sports outstanding percentages from beyond the arc (.429) and the foul line (.880). LaQuinton Ross came off the bench to tally 16 points, nine rebounds, and four assists in the victory, Lenzelle Smith, Jr. had 14 points and nine boards, and Sam Thompson added 13 points. Smith, Jr. (11.0 ppg), Ross (10.3 ppg), and Aaron Craft (11.0 ppg) round out the double-digit scorers for Ohio State, with Craft adding 4.1 apg and 1.6 spg for good measure.

12/12 11:56:35 ET