Columbus, OH (SportsNetwork.com) - The North Dakota State Bison and the third- ranked Ohio State Buckeyes will both attempt to extend winning streaks on Saturday night, as the two squads meet up at Value City Arena as part of the Gotham Classic.
With an upset victory at Notre Dame on Wednesday night, 73-69, NDSU has now conquered five games in a row to surge to 7-3 on the season. The Bison, who have played seven of their last eight games away from home, will return to Fargo on Monday for a bout with Delaware.
Ohio State has gone about its business this season without any setbacks, winning all nine of its games to surge all the way to No. 3 in the latest AP poll. The Buckeyes began their involvement in this event with an 86-48 victory over Bryant on Wednesday, and they will travel to Madison Square Garden on Dec. 21 for the Gotham Classic showcase game versus Notre Dame.
This game marks the first-ever meeting between the Bison and Buckeyes on the hardwood.
In a close contest earlier this week against Notre Dame, NDSU grabbed hold of a two-point lead with under nine minutes to play, and while its advantage never grew to more than seven points down the stretch, it also never gave the lead back to the Irish and held on for the upset win. The team benefited from a 50.9 percent shooting night, with Marshall Bjorklund acting as the catalyst with 26 points on 11-of-14 from the field. Lawrence Alexander tallied a double-double with 16 points and 14 rebounds, while Taylor Braun chipped in with 13 points and three steals. Productive shooting nights have become a positive theme for the Bison in the early going this season, as they drain 51.3 percent of their field goal tries (tied for eighth in the nation) for 79.0 points per game, 9.5 points more than they allow. Braun leads the way with 16.2 points per game, while Bjorklund's (15.2 ppg) individual field goal percentage of .711 ranks fourth in the country among qualified scorers. TrayVonn Wright (12.1 ppg, 5.8 rpg), Alexander (9.8 ppg, 5.6 rpg) and Mike Felt (9.5 ppg) round out the balanced attack.
The Buckeyes put forth arguably their single most dominating effort of the season in their latest outing, as they outshot Bryant, 52.5 percent to 27.6 percent, and won the turnover battle, 19-8, en route to the 38-point rout. All 10 players to see action scored at least four points, with Lenzelle Smith, Jr. leading the way with 19. Amir Williams was also stellar with 12 points, nine rebounds and six blocks. Ohio State has grown accustomed to impressive scoring outputs, as it shoots 48.3 percent from the field for 75.9 ppg, but what separates it from nearly every other team in the country is its outstanding play at the other end of the floor, as it ranks second in the nation in scoring defense (53.8 ppg) and third in field goal percentage defense (.360). Although no one scores more than Smith, Jr.'s 12.9 ppg, eight players put up at least 4.6 ppg. Ross (11.1 ppg), Williams (10.7 ppg, 7.1 rpg, 2.7 bpg), Aaron Craft (10.2 ppg, 4.9 apg, 2.6 spg) and Shannon Scott (9.1 ppg) round out a cohesive lineup that has started all nine games together.