Buckeyes get final tuneup before Kansas game

Ohio State hasn’t experienced many challenges during its lengthy homestand, though that will change later this week.

The No. 7 Buckeyes get a final chance to prepare for a highly anticipated showdown when they face Winthrop on Tuesday night.

Ohio State (8-1) has won the first four of its eight straight home games by an average of 29.7 points. The Buckeyes led by double digits for the final 28 1/2 minutes of a 90-72 victory over UNC Asheville on Saturday.

Sam Thompson had a career-high 18 points and leading scorer Deshaun Thomas recorded his fifth career double-double with 17 points and 10 rebounds.

The Buckeyes likely won’t have it as easy when they welcome No. 9 Kansas on Saturday, and they’ll try to bring a five-game winning streak into that matchup with Winthrop (4-4) up next.

Ohio State also gets another chance to work on pressing the pace after playing at a faster tempo Friday.

“I really enjoy this style of play. Playing this way helps us to confuse the opponent because they are not sure exactly who to guard,” junior guard Lenzelle Smith Jr. said. “Everyone is athletic and has possession of the ball.

“We didn’t realize how much up and down we could get until we were forced to. Now we are trying to get out and run more.”

Winthrop will try to build on one of its best defensive performances of the season. The Eagles snapped Ohio’s 16-game home winning streak with a 50-49 victory Saturday, giving it back-to-back wins for the first time under new coach Pat Kelsey.

Leading scorer Derrick Henry made a go-ahead free throw with 3 seconds left and finished with a team-best 14 points as Winthrop snapped a seven-game road losing streak.

While they’re limiting opponents to 60.4 points and 41.9 percent shooting per game, the Eagles are averaging 61.4 and 40.7. They posted their lowest scoring total of the season Saturday while hitting 32.7 percent from the field and going 4 of 22 from 3-point range.

That doesn’t bode well against the Buckeyes, who are allowing 57.4 points and 37.1 percent shooting.

Ohio State has won 38 in a row over non-conference visitors and is 14-0 against teams from the Big South Conference. Winthrop has lost its last five games against ranked teams by an average of 30.6 points.

The Eagles are facing a top-10 opponent for the first time since a 75-61 loss to then-No. 10 Oregon on March 18, 2007.

Ohio State won 78-54 in the schools’ only meeting Nov. 18, 2001, in Columbus.