No. 16 Ohio State guarding against letdown vs. Stetson

NCAA Basketball

What will No. 16 Ohio State do for an encore after blowing away No. 10 Villanova on Wednesday?

Get back to work and try not to have a letdown on Monday night when the Buckeyes (3-0) host Stetson (2-1) in Columbus, Ohio.

Ohio State jumped on Villanova early for a 19-3 lead, never was threatened and defeated the visitors 76-51. Afterward, Ohio State coach Chris Holtmann downplayed the result.

“Perspective is really important this time of the year,” he said. “We can rattle off a number of teams that have had wins early in the season then hit skids in league play or at various times when they really, really struggled.

“Your season’s never defined by one particular game unless it’s in March or April, really.”

The Buckeyes will have had several practices to prepare for their fourth straight home game.

“We are always trying to find that blend of getting better and preparing for our next opponent,” Holtmann said.

Against Ohio State, Stetson will be playing the third of five straight road games, which included a 79-55 loss at Purdue Fort Wayne on Saturday.

First-year coach Donnie Jones, an assistant at Dayton last season, has already made an impact on the Hatters, who last season were 7-24.

Their 77-75 victory at Western Illinois on Nov. 9 broke a 16-game road losing streak that dated back to Feb. 10, 2018.

“We were focused on trying to get a road victory,” Jones said. “I’m really proud of our team.”

Rob Perry scored 34 points in that game, the most by a Stetson freshman since 1983.

“Rob had the hot hand and we kept going to him,” Jones said. “Rob’s a really talented scorer. He’s what we call a gamer. When the game’s on the line, he’s got a great ability to make plays.”

Perry had 11 points vs. Purdue Fort Wayne while freshman Mahamadou Diawara led the Hatters with 15.

The Hatters have been getting a spark from senior reserve guard Jahlil Rawley.

“He can be a starter for us,” Jones said. “He’s Mr. Energy off the bench. We need his energy every night.”

The Buckeyes also have a backup who has come through. Sophomore Duane Washington Jr. had 11 of his game-high 14 points in the first three minutes vs. Villanova playing for injured forward Andre Wesson.

Ohio State had five players score in double figures vs. the Wildcats and hit their first six shots, including three 3-pointers by Washington.

“Having that win was big for us but we can’t look too forward,” Ohio State freshman forward E.J. Liddell said. “We play Stetson on Monday and we’re going to work off that and build off that every day in practice.”

Ohio State senior guard Danny Hummer said he knows the simple formula that the Buckeyes must follow.

“If we’re to have success as a team, if we come every day with the same approach, anything can happen,” he said. “As long as we maintain that day-to-day, win-the-next day attitude, it should help us in the long run.”

–Field Level Media

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