Jackson St.-Ohio St. Preview

Thad Matta’s young Ohio State team survived its first test the

last time it took the court, rallying from an early deficit to

defeat a top 10 opponent.

It likely won’t receive such a challenge against Jackson

State.

In the first meeting between the programs, Matta’s No. 3

Buckeyes look to become the third ranked team of the season to hand

the Tigers a lopsided loss Friday night at Value City Arena.

Matta had the feeling his team, which has just one senior and

one junior, was going to have its hands full Tuesday against

seventh-ranked Florida. The Buckeyes, who have two starters

returning from last season’s 34-win team, fell behind 11-4 in the

first five minutes before rallying for an 81-74 victory.

“I didn’t know how we were going to play,” Matta said. “But I

thought we played with good composure. They knocked us early by

making shots and our guys did a nice job of continuing to play and

weathering the storm.”

William Buford, the lone senior, led the way with 21 points and

six rebounds, while preseason All-American Jared Sullinger finished

with 16 points and six boards. Ohio State (2-0) did a solid job of

protecting the ball, turning it over seven times while forcing 16

turnovers.

“As young as we are, we’ve only played two games,” Sullinger

said. “We’re only going to get better and so are they. It’s just a

stepping stone.”

Jackson State (0-3) also faced the Gators, and it didn’t go

well.

The Tigers opened their season last Friday with a 99-59 loss to

Florida, shooting 34.0 percent and turning the ball over 24

times.

Jackson State followed with a 92-59 loss to then-No. 12 Baylor

on Sunday to fall to 0-26 against ranked opponents since 1996. The

Tigers have been outscored by an average of 38.0 points in losing

their three games against top 10 teams.

Jackson State would figure to have a bit better luck against

Wright State on Wednesday, but instead put together its worst

performance of the season.

The Tigers shot 26.2 percent, missed 12 of 14 3-pointers and

turned the ball over 21 times in a 56-39 loss. Senior Jenirro Bush,

the team’s leading scorer at 14.7 points per game, was the only

player in double figures for Jackson State with 15.

The Buckeyes, meanwhile, had no such trouble against Wright

State in their opener, winning 73-42 last Friday. Sullinger had 19

points and nine rebounds, while Buford had 13 points and four

assists.

While Matta has relied heavily on Sullinger and Buford,

sophomore Aaron Craft has also made big contributions in starting

the first two games. He has combined for 23 points, 10 assists, six

rebounds and six steals.

This will be the third of eight straight home games for Ohio

State, which doesn’t take to the road until visiting No. 12 Kansas

on Dec. 10.

The Buckeyes have won 24 straight home games since a 60-57 loss

to then-No. 4 Purdue on Feb. 17, 2010. They’ve also won 23

consecutive games at Value City Arena against non-conference

opponents since falling 76-48 to West Virginia on Dec. 27,

2008.

Jackson State is 1-35 in non-conference road games since

2007-08.