Ohio State has already defeated the only major conference opponent who will visit Value City Arena prior to the Big Ten schedule, topping Marquette 74-63 Nov. 18, and the Buckeyes return to the string of cream puffs coming to Columbus when they take on Sacred Heart tonight at 7 p.m. With little doubt that the Ohio State (2-0) will dispatch of the Pioneers (2-1), the Buckeyes are more focused on themselves.
“It’s another opportunity for us to get better,” head coach Thad Matta said. “There are still a lot of areas both offensively and defensively that we have to get better at.”
Considering Ohio State is shooting a nation-leading 63.3 percent through two games, it may appear there is little to work on. But the Buckeyes will look to take better care of the ball against Sacred Heart after coughing up 18 turnovers against Marquette, and will try to get to the free throw line more after attempting just 19 through their first two games.
Also seeking a bounce back game against the Pioneers is Ohio State freshman D’Angelo Russell who turned the ball over seven times and scored just six points against Marquette after leading the Buckeyes in scoring in their opener with 16.
“I wouldn’t’ say that I was struggling, I would just say that I was overly excited and nervous at the same time, so it was a bad mixture,” Russell said. “I felt like throughout the game I started to get my rhythm and just relaxing. I feel like I need to play the way I played just to prepare me for the next game. I wouldn’t say it’s a bad thing for me.”
Matta said he stressed to his freshman shooting guard the value of the little things and making the easy play, though he also praised the disruptive pressure defense of the Golden Eagles for some of Russell’s blunders.
The Pioneers will likely not provide as stiff a challenge. Sacred Heart lost by three points to UMass-Lowell, who the Buckeyes beat by 37 points in their opener, and is shooting just 47.1 percent from the field this season.
Matta said that’s a deceptive number.
“It’s funny because they have not shot the ball well to this point in the season, but I don’t know if I’ve seen a team that’s had more go in and out,” the coach said. “We’re always a get-well card for teams that haven’t’ shot the ball well to come in and make shots.”
Matta’s concerns aside, there is little doubt that the Buckeyes will leave Value City Arena tonight having devoured another cream puff.