Ohio State getting key contributions early from Taylor Mikesell and Rebeka Mikulasikova

Jacob Myers
The Columbus Dispatch
Ohio State Buckeyes forward Rebeka Mikulasikova (23) has scored 19 points in back-to-back games, the Buckeyes in scoring against Norfolk State and Bowling Green.

When Ohio State learned point guard Madison Greene went out with a season-ending injury, it was thought the void her absence created would largely be filled by guards Jacy Sheldon and Braxtin Miller.

But through three games, the 21st-ranked Buckeyes have also gotten key contributions from guard Taylor Mikesell and forward Rebeka Mikulasikova to bolster an offense that scored 94 points in a 31-point win against Bowling Green Wednesday.

In back-to-back games, Mikulasikova has scored 19 points to lead the Buckeyes in scoring. Mikesell added 19 points herself against the Falcons, and she has made at least four 3-pointers in all three games OSU has played.

While Mikesell and Mikulasikova are averaging a combined 29 points per game against lesser competition than they'll face during a brutal Big Ten schedule, their production is an encouraging sign.

"I made a comment to Jacy like, we're definitely starting to get used to playing with each other," Mikesell said.

Scoring was never going to be an issue for this Ohio State team, but the play-making ability of Mikesell might be even greater than expected.

"She's a great shooter obviously, but she's going to get people closing out on her so aggressively, she's got to be able to put the ball on the floor and get to the free-throw line or get to the basket and finish," coach Kevin McGuff said.

Ohio State's Taylor Mikesell (24) has made at least four 3-pointers in all three games the Buckeyes have played this season.

Mikesell's production is an important piece of the puzzle for Ohio State. But Mikulasikova becoming a reliable post-player and rebounder could make or break the Buckeyes after forwards Dorka Juhasz and Aaliyah Patty transferred out of the program.

To get ready for this season, Mikulasikova slimmed down, got in the best shape of her career and improved her mobility. As a result, Mikulasikova is averaging 19 minutes per game compared to 12.6 minutes last season.

"I feel much better compared to the past three years," she said. "I feel like I worked hard on my conditioning and just believing in myself. I knew Aaliyah and Dorka leaving, it put me in a different position, and I just really took the responsibility."

McGuff praised her work ethic, but it will also be important for her to stay out of foul trouble and improve from her current 4.3 rebounds per game.

"She's obviously getting an increased opportunity this year with minutes and a role and she's taken advantage of it so far," McGuff said. "I still think she's got room to grow and continue to get better, but we need her presence to give us a little balance in how we play, especially on offense."

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