Columbus, OH (SportsNetwork.com) - One of the last remaining undefeated teams in Division I, the third-ranked Ohio State Buckeyes put their perfect mark on the line tonight as they host the ULM Warhawks in non-conference action.
Outside of a stop in Milwaukee to challenge the Marquette Golden Eagles early in the season, and a date with Notre Dame at Madison Square Garden last weekend, the Buckeyes have played exclusively at home to this point. The victory over the Fighting Irish (64-61) pushed OSU to 12-0 on the campaign. The team has now registered five seasons in which it has started with a win streak of at least 10 games.
The Warhawks had at one point won three straight games, albeit against teams such as Samford, Northwestern State and Thomas, but since then the club has dropped three consecutive decisions. The latest of those setbacks took place last Sunday at home against Louisiana Tech in an 83-61 blowout. As a result, ULM is now a game below .500 overall (3-4).
As far as an all-time series between these two programs is concerned, this is the first-ever meeting.
Despite playing at home, the Warhawks were in over their heads against Louisiana Tech last weekend, as the hosts turned the ball over 17 times and shot just 38.7 percent from the floor in the 22-point setback. Tylor Ongwae was responsible for 20 points and five rebounds, followed by Jayon James and Amos Olatayo with 14 and 11 points, respectively, the pair also combining to pull down 15 rebounds.
A scoring leader in three games already this season, Olatayo comes up with 15.6 ppg on the average as he shoots 51.2 percent from the floor. However, Olatayo has made good on just 59.1 percent at the free-throw line and has but six assists to this point in the campaign. Ongwae checks in with 13.6 ppg and somewhat balances out Olatayo's awful showings at the charity stripe with his 81.3 percent accuracy, but still the team as a whole is connecting on just 65.8 percent at the line through seven games.
Ohio State led by seven points at the break against the Fighting Irish last weekend, but the team nearly let it all slip away as it shot only 34.5 percent from the field in the second half and missed all nine chances behind the 3- point line. Nevertheless, the Buckeyes had four starters score in double figures, beginning with LaQuinton Ross who posted 16 points to go with his team-best 11 rebounds. Amir Williams pitched in with 13 points, followed by Shannon Scott and Aaron Craft with 10 points apiece.
Since the start of December, Ross has come on as a top-notch scorer for the Buckeyes and is now averaging 12.8 ppg, but he still trails Smith who drops in 13.1 ppg. Both players are pulling down better than five rebounds per game and have combined to make 41 of the unit's 83 3-pointers through 12 games, so having he ball in their hands is rarely a bad idea. A very balanced scoring program, OSU is producing 75.2 ppg thanks to four double-digit scorers, but more than anything it is the defense that has carried the group, with just 55.9 ppg allowed.