NCAA BK

Wed, Nov 20, 2013 - 7:30 PM ET
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American U.-Ohio St. Preview

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Notoriously stingy on defense, Ohio State is coming off a tremendous performance in shutting down a ranked opponent on the road.

That doesn't bode well for offensively challenged American University.

The eighth-ranked Buckeyes look to overwhelm the Eagles on Wednesday night in the opener of an eight-game homestand.

After opening with home wins over Morgan State and Ohio, Ohio State received its first major test Saturday at then-No. 17 Marquette, which came in riding the nation's longest home winning streak at 27. The Buckeyes struggled at times offensively, but their defense stymied the Golden Eagles to come away with a 53-35 victory.

Ohio State (3-0) forced 20 turnovers and limited the Golden Eagles to 10-of-53 shooting (18.9 percent), the worst by an opponent since it held Samford to 18.8 percent in a 59-22 win in 2008. The Buckeyes were again outstanding defending the 3, as Marquette was 1 of 18. Ohio State is limiting opponents to 17.0 percent shooting from 3-point range (9 of 53).

The Buckeyes are holding opponents to an average of 51.3 points, the same number they allowed last season to rank fourth in the country.

American averaged 57.8 points last season to rank 335th out of 345 Division I schools, and it hasn't shown much offensively so far.

After losing 63-60 to George Mason in their opener, the Eagles defeated Maryland-Baltimore County 63-61 in overtime on Thursday. Darius Gardner scored in the lane with 1.8 seconds left to force overtime and Jesse Reed scored his lone basket of the game on a layup with 1.6 seconds remaining in the bonus period to break a tie.

"We showed resiliency tonight," coach Mike Brennan told American's official website. "It is a good win for us. ... We have a good group which are very coachable and get better each day. We need everyone to contribute."

Gardner is leading the offense, averaging 18.0 points and shooting 66.7 percent. The rest of the Eagles' starting five is shooting 36.4 percent, and the team is 13 of 48 (27.1 percent) from 3-point range.

Although the Buckeyes are off to a strong start defensively, their offense has been sluggish at times. They're hitting 31.1 percent of their 3s and shot 26.9 percent in the first half against Marquette before shooting 57.7 percent after the break. Ohio State also found its rhythm on the fastbreak, with a 16-0 advantage.

''The biggest thing we wanted to do was get out in transition,'' guard Aaron Craft said. ''If we could get rebounds and run, we could get layups before they could set up.''

Shannon Scott and Sam Thompson each had 13 points while Craft scored 10 to become the 50th player in school history to reach 1,000 points. Craft also became the first at Ohio State with 1,000 points, 500 assists and 200 steals.

Lenzelle Smith Jr. had another tough day shooting, and he's totaled 16 points while going 2 of 9 from 3-point range in the last two games after scoring 18 and hitting 4 of 6 3s in the opener.

The Buckeyes, who won't play away from Columbus until visiting Notre Dame on Dec. 21, are 4-0 all-time against American, last meeting in 1999.

The Eagles have lost all 20 games against Top 25 opponents since 1996 and were outscored by an average of 24.5 points in their two matchups against ranked foes last season.

Tagged: Marquette, Ohio State, American University, Ohio, Aaron Craft

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