Ohio State vs. Appalachian State


Where: Value City Arena

TV: Big Ten Network

Radio: OSU-IMG Sports Network (63 stations), Sirius 135/XM 195, WBNS-FM (97.1)

Records: Ohio State 8-3; Appalachian State 5-6

Projected starters


G C.J. Jackson, 6-1, Jr., 13.5

G Kam Williams, 6-2, Sr., 6.9

G Jae’Sean Tate, 6-4, Sr., 12.8

F Keita Bates-Diop, 6-7, Jr., 18.3

C Kaleb Wesson, 6-9, Fr., 12.2

Key reserves: G Musa Jallow, 6-5, Fr., 4.6; G Andrew Dakich, 6-2, Gr., 3.0; F Andre Wesson, 6-6, So., 2.2; F Kyle Young, 6-8, Fr., 2.4; C Micah Potter, 6-9, So., 5.3 (injured)


G Ronshad Shabazz, 6-5, Jr., 21.8

G Justin Forrest, 6-2, Fr., 16.8

F Tyrell Johnson, 6-8, Jr., 8.7

F Griffin Kinney, 6-8, Sr., 11.0

F Isaac Johnson, 6-9, So., 6.8

Key reserves: G O’Showen Williams, 5-11, So., 7.1; G Zach Cottrell, 6-5, So., 1.7; F Craig Hinton, 6-7, Sr., 5.0; F Bennett Holley, 6-8, Jr., 3.2

The Mountaineers were picked to finish 11th in the 12-team Sun Belt Conference in a preseason poll of the league’s coaches. They return eight of their top 10 scorers from a year ago, and Ohio State coach Chris Holtmann said Appalachian State’s guards and positional size are causes for concern.

“Terrific offensive numbers,” Ohio State coach Chris Holtmann said. “Depth and size across the board. Really, maybe in some ways as good of positional size as we’ve seen in terms of bigger guards, bigger wings. They’re bigger than us at those guard and wing spots and they have good interior size, too.”

Two of Appalachian State’s five wins are against non-Division-I opponents, but the Mountaineers have beaten Davidson 78-68 and fought Iowa State to a 104-98 loss.

“They’re a tough, physical, veteran team that’s going to play exceptionally hard,” Holtmann said. “I’m interested to see how we’ll respond after a week of final exams. You’re always concerned about any game, but certainly the game after finals. Interested to see how our guys respond.”

Holtmann drew comparisons to two prior foes when looking at Appalachian State’s size in the backcourt.

“I was trying to think of another team that has good positional size at the 1, 2, 3,” he said. “Their point guard is 6-5 and is really good, really talented offensively. He’s a lefty that can score at every level. He’s an older kid, strong, built a little bit like (Tate) and can do it all in terms of scoring and facilitating for his teams. Gonzaga was the biggest team we’ve played across the board with their size. They’re as athletic as any team that has come in here. Clemson had really good athleticism across the board. They’re a team that’s no question going to win a lot of games, no question in my mind.”


*This past week was finals week at Ohio State, which means that although the Buckeyes didn’t have a game to play they didn’t quite practice as much as you might think. After having played last Saturday, Ohio State was off Sunday, back on Monday, then off Tuesday before three straight days of practice leading into today’s game.

“I think our practice has been pretty good,” Holtmann said. “We gave them some time off earlier in the week but just because what was most important early in the week was preparing for finals. We haven’t spent a whole week of 2 ½ hour practices because of the demands of the week. I think we’ve had good attentiveness. That doesn’t always translate into good play.

“I’ve also tried to keep an eye on our conditioning as you go through two games in a couple weeks here. We’ve got a team that can get out of shape pretty quickly. Some of it’s because of our body types, so I’ve tried to keep an eye on that in terms of our overall team conditioning.”

*Both Potter and Young practiced as recently as Thursday, but one appears further along than the other in terms of recovering from his ankle injury.

“Micah had a little bit of a scare two days ago where he banged it again, so I would say he’s probably more limited than Kyle just because he’s gotten banged up with it more,” Holtmann said. “He didn’t re-injure it, but I think it was a concern. He kind of fell awkwardly on it. We’ll see. I think both guys will be a game-day, right-before-tip type of situation.”

Potter suffered a high ankle sprain against Northeastern on Nov. 19 and has been hampered ever since. Young missed the William & Mary game with a sprained ankle suffered two days before the game.

*Appalachian State is from the same league as UT-Arlington, which of course upset Ohio State two seasons ago at Value City Arena to set off a four-game losing streak for the Buckeyes.

Holtmann referenced that once or twice during Friday’s interviews, although both Bates-Diop and Tate weren’t in much mood to relieve it.

“Ever since what happened the last few years, we’ve made that an emphasis with all the new guys coming in,” Bates-Diop said of placing proper importance on non-conference games. “We didn’t really take full advantage of it. These games matter, obviously. UT-Arlington in that season, that kept us out of the tournament in the end and we can’t have that same thing happen this year.”

* The Buckeyes have shot better than 60 percent in two of their last three games: 66.0 percent at Wisconsin and 64.8 percent against William & Mary.

* Ohio State has recorded more assists than turnovers in each of its last four games, their longest such stretch of the season.

* These teams have met once before, but Ohio State doesn’t recognize the game. The Buckeyes beat the Mountaineers in the first round of the 2000 NCAA Tournament and won, 87-61, but that game has since been vacated.

What does KenPom say?

According to the advanced statistics of KenPom.com, Ohio State has a 92 percent chance to win today’s game. After climbing 10 spots to No. 48 in the national rankings during the last week and following the win against William & Mary, Ohio State is projected to beat Appalachian State by a score of 86-70. The Mountaineers are ranked No. 186 in the country, which oddly enough is where William & Mary was ranked entering its game against the Buckeyes.

Pregame reading

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