No. 25 Ohio State hopes to put the experience from its loss at Duke to good use, starting with Saturday’s contest against St. Francis (PA) in Columbus, Ohio.
The Buckeyes (5-2) hung tough with No. 17 Duke, cutting a 13-point deficit to five with just over three minutes to play before losing 81-72 in front of the usual rowdy fans at Cameron Indoor Stadium in Durham, N.C., on Wednesday.
For a young Ohio State team with four freshmen in the rotation, facing a team of that caliber in that atmosphere was an eye-opening experience.
“We haven’t really seen ourselves in this environment,” Buckeyes coach Chris Holtmann said. “So, we were really curious as a coaching staff. I think I’m sure you guys (media) were curious how we would respond. I think once we settled in in the second half, we were much better.
“I love the fact that we were able to play in this environment at this time for our group. I think it’s going to be really important for us, particularly given how good the Big Ten is and how good those environments are. … . I think it helps your team. It helps our game to play in these kinds of environments.”
Saint Francis (2-6) enters with a two-game losing streak after an 89-65 loss to Bucknell on Wednesday.
The Red Flash trailed 33-32 at the half and were within 47-44 before Bucknell turned the game into a rout.
“I thought we came out much more ready to play in the first 20 minutes. The challenge is that we are still learning how to put 40 minutes of basketball together,” St. Francis (PA) coach Rob Krimmel said. “We are going to have to have another short-term memory with our next opportunity on Saturday against a very talented Ohio State team.”
The Red Flash are led by Josh Cohen with 20.4 points per game. He had 18 with seven rebounds against Bucknell.
He has scored in double figures in his past 15 games dating back to last season, and has scored 18 or more points six times this season.
Zed Key had 21 points for Ohio State against Duke but freshman Brice Sensabaugh, who had scored in double figures in his first six games, was hampered by foul trouble and had only four points in 14:07 of playing time.
“That was the big thing with being unable to get him the long, extended play that we wanted to,” Holtmann said. “He had four fouls pretty quickly. And he’s going to get a lot of attention for a young guy. He’ll learn from these opportunities.”
Ohio State forward Justice Sueing said the Buckeyes need to get back on track against St. Francis (PA) before opening Big Ten play against Rutgers on Dec. 8.
“We know we can grow from it, build from it and look at how to prevent it for the future,” he said of the Duke game. “We have some things that are very easily correctable, so I think we’ll be able to build off of that.”
–Field Level Media