No. 18 Ohio State women’s basketball taking momentum into first road game at Syracuse

Jacob Myers
The Columbus Dispatch

The No. 18 Ohio State women’s basketball team has every right to feel confident. 

The Buckeyes haven’t won by fewer than 23 points. They’re scoring at the highest rate in the country at 89.4 points per game, and they’re 5-0 entering their first road game of the season at 8 p.m. Wednesday against Syracuse at the Carrier Dome. 

So far, coach Kevin McGuff has seen the improvement he has been looking for in each of the first few weeks of the season. But with Big Ten play beginning at Purdue on Sunday, this first test away from Value City Arena should tell him a bit more about the type of team he’ll have this season. 

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"It'll be a challenging game for us,” McGuff said. “Syracuse is very talented. They play a little different style than we've seen so far. You're on the road, in the dome, so a lot of things to be worried about. We’ll have to make sure every possession counts and we can execute accordingly, especially down the stretch." 

Kevin McGuff's Buckeyes are scoring at the highest rate in the country at 89.4 points per game.

Despite the hot start, the jury is still out on Ohio State. The Buckeyes have yet to play an opponent among the Power Five conferences and won’t play a ranked opponent until Indiana on Dec. 12. However, after last week’s 36-point win against Cincinnati and 52-point win against Bellarmine, senior transfer guard Taylor Mikesell said the team’s confidence is really high, no matter the lack of tough competition the Buckeyes have faced. 

“First road trip you kind of see a measuring stick of where we're going to be at, especially Big Ten/ACC Challenge should be a good matchup with Syracuse,” Mikesell said. “I'm excited to see where we're at. I think we're ready for it.” 

Ohio State guard Taylor Mikesell passes to a teammate against Cincinnati on Saturday.

In the earlier stages of the season, Syracuse has felt the effects of its tumultuous offseason. From last season’s team that earned a No. 8 seed in the NCAA Tournament, only three players returned after a stunning 12 players entered the transfer portal. Then in August, longtime head coach Quentin Hillsman resigned after the university began to look into allegations of misconduct. 

Picked to finish 13th of 15 teams in the ACC, Syracuse has begun the season 3-4 with a 26-point loss to now No. 24 Notre Dame and a 24-point loss to now No. 13 South Florida. Syracuse’s top player, Priscilla Williams, a former five-star recruit, hasn’t played this season due to an undisclosed injury. 

If there’s one area of concern, it’s Syracuse’s press and ability to force turnovers. The Buckeyes and Orange rank in the top three of their respective conferences in turnover margin, with the Orange averaging 21.5 forced turnovers per game. 

"That's been a big emphasis for us,” Mikesell said. “They have a really good press and they run a lot of zone which can mess some teams up. The big thing is just taking care of the ball for us and just limiting the turnovers so we can run our offense and not give them easy points on the other end." 

jmyers@dispatch.com

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Ohio State at Syracuse