The matchup between No. 21 Ohio State and Towson on Wednesday night in Columbus seems to fit the definition of a trap game for the Buckeyes.
Ohio State (6-2, 1-0 Big Ten) in the past week defeated then-No. 1 Duke, then went on the road Sunday to open Big Ten play with a 76-64 win against Penn State. After Wednesday’s nonleague game against the Tigers (6-3), the Buckeyes host No. 22 Wisconsin on Saturday looking to go 2-0 in the conference.
Monday, Towson issued a warning that the Buckeyes should overlook them at their peril, as the Tigers clubbed host Kent State 73-58. It was an impressive and gutty win, just the type of confidence booster needed to play Ohio State.
Towson began the game with a 19-2 run and led by as many as 21 before the Golden Flashes pulled to within three, 61-58. The Tigers responded by holding Kent State scoreless the final 5:50 to finish the game on a 12-0 run for their third straight win.
“It’s a good team win for us,” Towson coach Pat Skerry said. “We were ready early and then I was really proud that we withstood a rally in a really tough environment against a good team late.
“A lot of guys played really well for us. This is as nice a group of guys as I’ve ever been around in 30 years of coaching, and I just really appreciate them and it’s big for our university and our program.”
Nicolas Timberlake led the Tigers with 22 points and nine rebounds. Antonio Rizzuto added 18 points while Cam Holden had 10 assists.
Ohio State coach Chris Holtmann has prepared his team to meet the ebb and flows of the season, noting he was concerned about a letdown against Penn State after the draining win over Duke in which the Buckeyes overcame a 15-point second-half deficit.
“Our older guys, I texted them the night before we played,” Holtmann said following the Penn State game. “I said, ‘This is your team. We’re going to start the way you prepare your team for this.’ I thought those guys did a good job with their readiness and preparing their team for this.”
One of them was fifth-year senior Kyle Young, who led the Buckeyes with 16 points. Another veteran was graduate transfer Jamari Wheeler, who played four seasons for Penn State and was constantly jeered by his former home crowd in his return.
He had nine points, nine assists and five rebounds.
“He’s extremely unselfish,” Holtmann said on his radio show Monday. “He’s got to continue to be an offensive threat for us to be our best offensively.”
The Buckeyes also got nine pointsagainst the Nittany Lions from Justin Ahrens, the 3-point specialist who hit 3-of-8 from beyond the arc.
“Outside of our main scorers, he’s the focal point of defenses,” Holtmann said. “He strikes fear in your heart.”
This will be the third all-time meeting. The Buckeyes won 97-86 in the 1991 NCAA Midwest Regional first round and 74-53 in 2004.
–Field Level Media