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Men’s basketball: Ohio State – Marshall preview

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Kam Williams (15) shoots the ball during the Buckeyes home opener against North Carolina Central. The Buckeyes won 69-63. Ashley Nelson | Sports Director

Kam Williams (15) shoots the ball during the Buckeyes home opener against North Carolina Central. The Buckeyes won 69-63. Ashley Nelson | Sports Director

When the Ohio State Buckeyes take on the Marshall Thundering Herd on Friday night, only one team will remain unbeaten after 40 minutes. It will be one of OSU’s tougher tests in the early part of the season, as the Buckeyes look to move to 6-0 before a game with No. 7 Virginia on Wednesday.

OSU has earned two quality wins over Navy and Providence through the first five games, so securing another solid victory against Marshall could help keep the morale high, and help propel OSU through some upcoming challenging games, both out of conference and within the Big Ten.

Marshall, a 4-0 team from Conference USA, is OSU’s final game in the Global Sports Invitational. In the unbracketed event, both teams have wins over North Carolina Central, Western Carolina and Jackson State. The Buckeyes and the Herd each took care of NC Central and Western Carolina, but it was Jackson State that made the distinction.

Jackson State was the most recent win for both Marshall and Ohio State, but while OSU took care of business on Wednesday with a 30-point win, Marshall was in a tight game, only edging the Tigers by 10 points, after trailing at half. However, OSU coach Thad Matta said that Marshall’s athleticism will bring challenges for his team. Marshall coach Dan D’Antoni has experience in the NBA with his brother Mike D’Antoni, coaching in Phoenix and New York.

“They’re wide open,” Matta said. “That’s their style … They got a heckuva point guard and guys that can flat out shoot the basketball.”

For Ohio State, the key to the game will be keeping Marshall’s offensive productivity to a minimum. While the Buckeyes have yet to eclipse 80 points in a game, the Herd have exceeded that mark in all but one game.

OSU has been a fairly stout defense, holding opposing teams to just 56.6 points per game and 42.5 in the past two games. The Buckeyes should be the toughest test for Marshall so far, and if the Herd can find a way to produce offensively like it has all year, there could be a shootout brewing.

The Buckeyes strong-suit is their defense, but their offense has not been particularly bad this year, either. OSU averages 73 points per game and is led by junior forward Jae’Sean Tate who scores 13.2 points per game. Sophomore point guard JaQuan Lyle is coming off a double-double against Jackson State in which he had 11 assists. Redshirt junior guard Kam Williams and senior Marc Loving had 15 and 19 points, respectively last game. The Herd are led by junior guard Jon Elmore who averages 19 points per game. Marshall will be without starter Ryan Taylor because of a suspension after being ejected from his last game against Jackson State. Taylor averages 8.3 points and 6.0 rebounds per game.

Junior forward Keita Bates-Diop is still questionable to play. He suffered a sprained ankle against Providence on Nov. 17 and sat out the last two games.

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