Continuing with their eight-game home stand, the seventh-ranked Ohio State Buckeyes welcome the Long Beach State 49ers to town for this afternoon's non-conference clash at Value City Arena.
Long Beach State comes in hoping to stop a two-game slide, the team recently dropping an 84-53 decision to another nationally-ranked foe in Syracuse on Thursday night. As a result, the 49ers are 3-5 on the young season, and this game represents the fourth the team has faced a member of the Top-25 already -- the other two being losses to North Carolina and Arizona in mid-November. LBSU will open Big West Conference play at home versus Pacific on Dec. 29.
Ohio State has won five of its first six games, with its lone setback coming at Duke on Nov. 28 as part of the Big Ten/ACC Challenge. The Buckeyes rebounded after that bout to whip visiting Northern Kentucky last Saturday, 70-43. OSU has just one tough non-league game left, versus Kansas on Dec. 22, before kicking off the Big Ten Conference portion of its schedule against visiting Nebraska 11 days later.
Ohio State won the only previous meeting between these two squads, that being a 93-86 decision during the 1987 Lobo Classic in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
Long Beach State has had all kinds of trouble establishing itself at the offensive end of the court this season, shooting a meager 38.5 percent overall, which includes a 31.6 percent effort from 3-point range. As a result, the team averages just 63.5 ppg, while foes are putting up 72.2 ppg, despite knocking down only 41.8 percent of their total shots. The 49ers are guilty of more than 16 turnovers per outing, and they are being outrebounded by 5.5 rpg. James Ennis averages 15.6 ppg, although he is just a 41.8 percent shooter who has missed 26 of his 37 3-point attempts. He does however, have more made free throws than all but one of his teammates has attempts, and he also heads the team's effort on the glass with 7.8 rpg while swatting nearly two shots per game. Mike Caffey (10.5 ppg) is the only other LBSU player currently netting double digits. Dan Jennings was high man in the recent loss at Syracuse, scoring 20 points, while Peter Pappageorge finished with 11 points and six assists, and Ennis chipped in 10 points. Jennings and Ennis each grabbed seven boards, and Caffey handed out nine helpers. Unfortunately, the 49ers shot just 29.2 percent from the floor, missing 19 of their 24 3-point shots along the way. They also committed 18 turnovers
Ohio State has been solid at both ends of the floor here in the first month of the season, lighting up the scoreboard for 76.2 ppg, while holding the opposition to just 57.5 ppg. For the most part, shooting hasn't been a problem as the Buckeyes knock down 46 percent of their field goal attempts, which includes a 40.5 percent showing from beyond the arc. Conversely, foes are making good on only 37.3 percent of their total shots, among them a mere 31.9 percent from downtown. OSU also owns favorable margins in both rebounding (+5.0) and turnovers (+5.0). Deshaun Thomas has been a beast, averaging 21.0 points and 6.5 rebounds per game to lead the team in both categories. He is shooting 44.1 percent from 3-point range and 91.3 percent from the foul line. Aaron Craft (12.0 ppg, 4.3 apg), who is known more for his playmaking ability, and backcourt mate Lenzelle Smith, Jr. (10.5 ppg, 5.2 rpg) are solid complementary pieces to what is another solid Thad Matta-coached team. The Buckeyes shot just 37.7 percent from the floor the last time out against Northern Kentucky, but they still managed to win by 27 points. LaQuinton Ross came off the bench to score 22 points and pull down eight boards, while starters Thomas and Sam Thompson added 14 and 10 points, respectively. Ohio State held its severely overmatched opponent to 27.1 percent field goal accuracy, while goading it into 20 turnovers.