Coming off their first loss of the season, the Ohio State Buckeyes return to the friendly confines of Value City Arena on Wednesday to take on the USC Upstate. Tip off set at 7:30 PM ET.
|School:||University of South Carolina Upstate|
|Location:||Spartanburg, South Carolina|
|Division:||NCAA DIV I|
|Stadium:||G.B. Hodge Center|
|Head Coach:||Eddie Payne|
There is no doubt that the 6-4 Atlantic Sun Upstate Spartans will present some type of challenge on Wednesday as they continue their trek through the state of Ohio. On Sunday, it was Dayton that was witness to the upstart Division I programs continued improvement on the court. After tough losses to the likes of Arkansas, Toledo, and UNC-Ashville, the Spartans gave the Flyers all they could handle on Sunday. In a 72-68 loss, it took a 16-6 run at the end of the game for Dayton to pull away from Coach Eddie Payne’s gritty and very young squad.
Every game that this team competes in, they get better on the floor. And though they will be severe underdogs at the Schott on Wednesday, they could present some real problems. Just what the Buckeyes need heading into a road challenge against South Carolina on Saturday.
What really comes into play is the health of Jared Sullinger. As he battles back spasms, the Buckeyes have battled inside to find someone to replace his production. So far in two games this season without him, Ohio State is shooting below 40%. All signs point to Sullinger getting some time in this one, but with Big Ten play just weeks away, now might be the time to rest him.
With or without him, there are still aspects of the game to work on Wednesday. The Spartans will look at times to open up the post by hitting the three point shot. Shooting 15 three pointers a game or more will showcase of the weaknesses for Ohio State. On Saturday against Kansas, the Buckeyes allowed the Jayhawks to shoot 9/17 from deep. Something that has to be addressed on Wednesday to give this team defensive momentum heading into the final stretch of non-conference play.
All in all, another tune up for Thad Matta to better tighten his rotations, evaluate his bench players, and figure things out as a whole before conference play opens up. The Spartans are coming off a 5-25 record a year ago, but that doesn’t mean they are pushovers on the court.
Player to Watch:
Coach Payne’s roster may look more like a JV squad with his 8 best players being underclassman, but there is no doubt that returning starting sophomore Torrey Craig is the star of the show. Averaging over 14 points per game in his first year at the collegiate level, Craig picked it up in the second half of the season and despite having more talent around him than a year ago, he’ll be the number one option all night long. He has solid range, can drive to the hoop, and is now starting to learn how to find his way out of double teams by finding the open man. Once he becomes a superior ball-handler, he could be dangerous on the offensive side.
Defensively, he has a lot of work to do. The coaching staff honed in on his defensive mentality this summer, and so far this year he looks to have improved, but he will give open looks to shooters like William Buford and Deshaun Thomas, who aren’t afraid to hoist up in open space.
So far on the year, Craig is averaging 17 points per game and is shooting 33% from beyond the arc. Being so young, there isn’t a player on this team that averages over 30 minutes per game. It is clear though that when Craig is not in the game, this team struggles.
Despite that fact, over 8 players average 15 minutes or more on the floor for the Spartans. Ty Green, Adrian Rodgers and Ricardo Glenn all average 9 points per game.
Starting Lineup Breakdown:
|Lenzelle Smith Jr.||9||21.3||4.9||4.9||2.2||1.7||0.0||1.1||.548||.300||.444|