Columbus, OH – Coming off their toughest test of the young ranked Ohio State Buckeyes get back to action this evening as they play host to the Jackson State Tigers at Value City Arena in Columbus. This matchup is a continuation of the Global Sports Shootout.
Jackson State comes in still searching for its first win of the 2011-12 campaign, as its first three games have all resulted in a lopsided defeats. The Tigers have yet to play a home game, and their most recent loss came at Wright State on Wednesday in a 56-39 final. They had surrendered no fewer than 92 points in their first two outings against a pair of nationally-ranked foes in Florida and Baylor. Jackson State is a member of the Southwestern Athletic Conference, and this is the team's first-ever matchup against Ohio State.
The Buckeyes are in the midst of an eight-game home streak to open the season, and they are 2-0 after taking out Wright State (73-42) and No. 7 Florida (81-74). The favorite to win the Big Ten Conference crown this season, Ohio State is coached by Thad Matta and this may very well be his best team as there are solid players at every position on the floor, and the team's recruiting effort continues to yield big-time prospects. While it's true this is the first meeting between Jackson State and Ohio State on the hardwood, the Buckeyes are 3-0 all-time against teams from the SWAC.
Ohio State has won 24 straight home games, and is 39-1 at Value City Arena since the start of the 2009-10 season.
Poor shooting has been the primary reason the Tigers are winless to this point in the season, as they are hitting just 30.3 percent of their field goal attempts. They are actually shooting better from three-point range (.386), and nearly 74 percent of their free throws have found the bottom of the net. Still, the team averages just 52.3 ppg while allowing 82.3 ppg. Jenirro Bush and Kelsey Howard are both averaging double digits in the scoring column, checking in at 14.7 and 10.3 ppg, respectively, and Bush and Derrell Taylor head Jackson State's rebounding effort with 5.0 rpg apiece. Bush, who was the preseason pick to win SWAC Player of the Year honors, logged a game-high 15 points and seven rebounds in the recent loss to Wright State, but the Tigers made good on just 26.2 percent of their total shots (11-of-42) in what was another dismal offensive showing.
Ohio State has its own superstar in sophomore forward Jared Sullinger, and he is off to a fast start, averaging 17.5 points and 7.5 rebounds per game while shooting 53.3 percent from the field, 90 percent at the foul line, and he adds 1.5 blocks per outing for good measure. Support comes from double-digit scorers William Buford (17.0 ppg, 4.0 rpg), Deshaun Thomas (12.0 ppg, 5.5 rpg) and Aaron Craft (11.5 ppg, 5.0 apg). So far, the Buckeyes are hitting their field goals 46.0 percent of the time, while holding the opposition to just 39.2 percent. Coach Matta would love to see the three-point shot fall with more frequency however, as OSU is hitting just 31.0 percent from downtown, and the Buckeyes are actually being outrebounded as well (33.0-31.5 rpg). In the recent win over Florida, Buford scored 21 points and was one of three Buckeyes with six rebounds. Sullinger added 16 points, Thomas had 15 and Craft chipped in with 13 points and seven assists for Ohio State, which shot 47.2 percent from the floor, but made good on only 4-of-15 three-point attempts. Florida was guilty of 16 turnovers, while OSU had only seven.