Morehead St.-Ohio St. Preview

Jared Sullinger and Ohio State have used balanced scoring and
some major rebounding edges to roll through their first three
opponents.

The star freshman and his team might find some tougher
competition on the boards against Morehead State.

The third-ranked Buckeyes look to stay unbeaten Tuesday night in
Columbus, where Sullinger and Eagles star forward Kenneth Faried
should offer an enticing head-to-head matchup of NBA prospects.

Sullinger was one of the nation’s top recruits and showed why in
his first two games. He had 19 points and 14 boards in his debut as
Ohio State (3-0) outrebounded North Carolina A&T 60-22 in a
102-61 rout Nov. 12. He followed it up with 26 points as his team
shot 62.9 percent in a 93-75 win at then-No. 9 Florida last
Tuesday.

Sullinger wasn’t nearly as dominant Saturday against
UNC-Wilmington, finishing with 11 points and eight boards, but he
didn’t need to be. Fellow top recruit Deshaun Thomas had a
game-high 17 points to lead five Buckeyes in double figures in an
81-41 victory.

“We’ve got depth. We’ve got a lot of scorers,” said Thomas,
averaging 14.3 points in just over 17 minutes a game. “We’re just
so athletic, and so long, anyone can score and anyone can do it on
a given night.”

That isn’t the case for Morehead State (2-2), but the Eagles do
have one player more than capable of doing damage at both ends of
the floor.

Faried declared for the draft last summer after averaging 16.9
points and 13.0 rebounds, but didn’t hire an agent, allowing him to
back out and return for his senior season.

The decision looks to be paying off. The 6-foot-8 Faried is
shooting 64.0 percent – up from 56.4 – and averaging 2.8 blocks and
2.5 steals.

The nation’s leading returning rebounder had 20 points and a
season-high 18 boards at Florida on Sunday, and though Morehead
State lost 61-55, Faried gained at least one fan.

“That’s Dennis Rodman all over again,” Gators coach Billy
Donovan said. “If I was an NBA general manager I’d be taking him
with my pick. That’s what a next-level guy looks like. He just
totally destroyed our frontcourt. … That was definitely an
incredible performance by a terrific player.”

Faried and the Eagles outrebounded Florida 41-35, five days
after the Gators edged the Buckeyes 28-20 on the glass in a game
that didn’t feature too many misses. Thanks in part to Sullinger
and his 10.7 boards per game, Ohio State outrebounded its other two
opponents 108-53.

Morehead State’s previous performance in the Global Sports
Invitational wasn’t nearly as compelling as what it nearly pulled
off in Gainesville. The Eagles lost 60-58 on Thursday to the
UNC-Wilmington squad that was routed by Ohio State two days
later.

Even if Sullinger isn’t able to outplay Faried, the Buckeyes’
depth – no Morehead State reserve has scored in double figures –
figures to give Ohio State a good chance to win for the 57th time
in 58 home games against unranked, non-conference foes.

Aside from Jon Diebler, Ohio State hasn’t gotten going from
3-point range after shooting 39.0 percent last season. Diebler is
off to a fast start at 10 for 22, but the rest of the Buckeyes are
shooting 28.0 percent from beyond the arc.