Preview: Morgan State at No. 11 Ohio State

By Kyle Rowland on November 9, 2013 at 10:00a
Ohio's Favorite SonCraft's final season begins Saturday. 
Ohio State Buckeyes #11 Ohio State 0-0, 0-0 Big Ten Roster | Schedule 12:00 PM ET - —— The Schott Columbus, OH Morgan State Bears Morgan state 0-0, 0-0 meac Roster | Schedule

In a college football week where Oregon already lost and Alabama plays LSU at 8 p.m. Saturday night, college basketball is garnering the spotlight in Columbus. Ohio State, off yet another 20-win season and deep run in the NCAA Tournament, is expected to once again be near the top of the Big Ten.

“We have a chance to have a really, really good basketball team,” head coach Thad Matta said. “I love the energy and cohesiveness, but it’s early. I’d say this – I’m very excited about the season.”

The year welcomes several milestones. It’s Matta’s 10th season at Ohio State, the final year for Aaron Craft and Lenzelle Smith Jr. and perhaps the duo could depart Columbus as the Buckeyes’ all-time winningest basketball players.

“Right now, we’re at a good position,” Craft said. “We put in a lot of work.”

None more than him. Craft is a gym rat by trade, but the summer overhaul of his jump shot was an entirely different undertaking. It required thousands of shots per week before he felt comfortable enough to call it a finished product. With the time commitment made, Craft believes the hard work will shine through with results on the court.

But it’s not just Craft’s offense getting noticed. He’s long been known as a defensive ace, and this season is sure to attract even more attention with new defensive rules.

“If [the officials] stay with what they’re saying, it’s going to affect the bad defenders,” Matta said. He does not include Craft in that category, if you were wondering.

Saturday marks a decade of dominance under Matta, the beginning of the end of the Craft era and, quite possibly, college basketball’s equal to football’s “targeting” rule.

“We got our core principles down sooner maybe than we have in the past,” Matta said. “I think it’s allowed us to be, hopefully, a little better defensively. I want us to be as aggressive as we possibly can.”

4 A. Craft SR 6-2/195 0.0 0.0 0.0 G 11 B. Bozeman JR 6-2/170 0.0 0.0 0.0
3 S. Scott JR 6-1/185 0.0 0.0 0.0 G 5 J. Black SR 6-2/220 0.0 0.0 0.0
32 L. Smith Jr. SR 6-4/210 0.0 0.0 0.0 G 22 A. Hubbard SR 6-5/230 0.0 0.0 0.0
10 L. Ross JR 6-8/220 0.0 0.0 0.0 F 34 C. Blossom SO 6-6/225 0.0 0.0 0.0
23 A. Williams JR 6-11/250 0.0 0.0 0.0 C 50 I. Chiles SR 7-2/260 0.0 0.0 0.0

Opponent Breakdown

Morgan State head coach Todd Bozeman is well-known for the show cause penalty and egregious level of cheating he committed at Cal in the early 1990s. But in seven years at Morgan State, he’s made the most of his second chance. Bozeman has led the Bears to two NCAA Tournament appearances and one NIT. Morgan State has played in the MEAC conference championship game five times.

Prior to Bozeman’s arrival in Baltimore, the Bears’ last winning season came in 1988-89. Postseason play, winning seasons and even 20 victories are becoming the norm. Bozeman has guided Morgan State to three 20-win seasons. It finished with a 17-15 last season, advancing to the MEAC title game.

The top returnee is Justin Black, the Bears’ leader in scoring (14.2 points per game), assists (2.9) and three-pointers (39 total). Seven-foot-two center Ian Chiles’ 9.2 points per game and 5.2 rebounds and Anthony Hubbard’s 11.4 points also return. Black was named to the preseason All-MEAC First-Team, while Chiles and Hubbard were tabbed for second and third team honors, respectively.

Morgan State was picked to finish second in the MEAC this season, behind defending regular-season champion Norfolk State. The Ohio State game is the first of 10 consecutive contests to open the season away from home, three of which will be played in the Virgin Islands.

Buckeye Breakdown

Several players can be deemed X-factors for the 2013-14 Buckeyes. But it’s hard to top Amir Williams when it comes to truly being in the position where someone’s success is tied to the team’s overall achievements. Ohio State is sure to play a small lineup for stretches this season, but it doesn’t lessen the important of the big man in the middle.

Williams, a former McDonald’s All-American and five-star recruit, has been a can-miss college player. Smith explained last week how difficult it is to make the transition from high school to college. For Williams, that jump still hasn’t occurred.

Emotionless too often.It's approaching now or never for Amir.

In his sophomore season, he started 26 games but averaged just 3.5 points and 3.9 rebounds, not exactly robust numbers. That’s why he’s keeping his goal for Year 3 quite simple.

“Be better than last year,” Williams said.

At times, he’s become his own worst enemy, allowing the psychological nature of the game to defeat him. The nature of Williams’ first five minutes often dictates how well he will play that particular game. It’s a quality he’s striving to break this year. Consistency is key, not allowing his emotions to get too high or too low.

His performance in the Buckeyes’ exhibition game included the promise that Williams displayed in high school. Eight points, 10 rebounds, five blocked shots and three steals drew praise from coaches and teammates, and raised eyebrows in the stands.

“Just give us consistent, solid basketball,” Matta said.

Williams understands how vital his production is to the team. A year removed from the Elite Eight and the loss of 20 points per game – Deshaun Thomas – Williams’ impact becomes magnified, especially with Evan Ravenel’s departure. Williams and Trey McDonald are the lone big men on the roster. Playing smart but aggressive in the rugged Big Ten will be paramount.

“Coach explained to me, my play is important this season so he can’t have me playing 10 to 12 minutes for the game because of foul trouble,” Williams said.


  • Ohio State is 1-0 all-time vs. Morgan State and 16-0 against teams from the MEAC. 
  • Aaron Craft is one of 15 players on the Oscar Robertson Trophy watch list, which goes to the national player of the year as selected by the USBWA.
  • Thad Matta is 10 wins away from being the second-winningest coach in program history. Eldon Miller is the current No. 2. 

Comments Show All Comments

Buckeye in a Bobcat world's picture

Will the call be on the fan?

RBuck's picture


Long live the southend.

AlphaMaleBettor's picture

I can't find a betting line for this game. No line I think.

CheapSeats's picture

The game starts at noon, no?

DallasTheologian's picture

No video right? Couldn't find it on BTN live.

DatDudeSA's picture

Reair tuesday at 3 pm. Followed shortly by ohio at TOSU at 8 pm live.

"fear is an obstacle to some people, but it is an illusion to me"––Michael Jordan.

Seattle Linga's picture

Go bucks - can't wait to see how they shoot with all the off season practice.

armybuckinva's picture

A very veteran and experienced team.  Those are the best teams.  So, suck it Kentucky.

igo43's picture

Aaron Craft's last season. Probably my favorite player to ever play basketball at OSU during my lifetime. I'm going to miss watching him play. Give me 5 kids on and off the court like him any day of the week.

"The minute I think I'm getting mellow, I'm retiring. Who ever heard of a mellow winner?" - WWH

45buckshot's picture

i love Craft too, but he's no Scoonie Penn. ;)
Seriously, i love him but he doesn't have the offense we need and through the first half it looks like he's never going to have it
but Scott is playing well... 

“The true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him.”
—G.K. Chesterton

2014nationalchamps's picture

in the midst of football season, i failed to notice that our bball team is really experienced. All jrs and srs starting? Nice. This is a team built to make a long run in the madness this yr.

O-H-I-O  for life

Fairground Stripper's picture

Am I allowed to share a link to live video of the game I found online?  This is my first post on 11W, so don't want to break rules right off the bat.

Fairground Stripper's picture
It works great on my Mac, Chrome browser.  Of course, your mileage may vary.
Wait 30 seconds for the ads to play, don't click on anything before the 30 seconds.
And I use AdBlock on my browser to stop any pop-ups.

BROSEPH's picture

Yup, AdBlock as well and the stream is working fantastically.  Nice find.

Seattle Linga's picture

Thanks for the advice - now I am watching it from my office in Tacoma. +1 for you but my question is...................... What's up with the nickname Stripper?

Fairground Stripper's picture

Honestly, I came across "Fairground Stripper" when Elton John referred to Madonna as that in an interview.  I took a liking to it and here I am.

Seattle Linga's picture

Cool - I guess you use it depending on the crowd your with.
Can you imagine getting paged at the airport with that name?
Better yet - how about at a restaurant when the hostess says - "the table is ready for Fairground Stripper" guys will be thinking their about to get a lap dance at the Olive Garden. 

KE's picture

Thanks for that, Fairground Stripper.

OSU069's picture

First row sports link is working really well. 

RedStorm45's picture

Craft still can't shoot.

William's picture

I don't know why people expect him to get exponentially better every year. He's a great defensive player, with a limited offensive game, expecting more than that every year is just crazy.

RedStorm45's picture

"Worked on his shot all offseason..."

William's picture

They say that every offseason.. It's just like player X looked great in the Spring Game talk..

45buckshot's picture

Craft is the Michael Thomas of Bucks basketball ;)

“The true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him.”
—G.K. Chesterton

andyb's picture

You're right...except Craft is the all time steals leader in OSU history, Academic and 1st team All American, First team all B1G, DPOY, 4 year starter, 1 Final 4 appearance.....but yeah...he's the Michael Thomas of Bucks B-ball.
I see your wink...but don't mess with Aaron man...just don't!!!  ; )

BROSEPH's picture

If Thompson's midrange game is developed and his decision making is good, he could be one of the best players in the B1G, if not in the whole country. 
Same thing with Scott, if he develops a decent shot, he will be REALLY good. 

William's picture

Della Valle needs to finish on those drives. 

Ethos's picture

the virgin islands? wow bball has some nice perks in college compared to other sports including football. 

"I spent 90 percent of my money on women and drink. The rest I wasted." - George Best

Buckeye1996's picture

I really like Trey's sideburns.. very cool

RedStorm45's picture

How did Buck-I-Guy get a seat in the student section? What a tool.

Buckeye1996's picture

Am I wrong in thinking that when I play HS basketball there were 4 quarters and not two halves? I can't remember it has been a long

William's picture

Good God Ross make the shot haha. 

RedStorm45's picture

The whole team can't make a layup.

RedStorm45's picture

We shoot better from deep than from inside three feet.

sbentz4's picture

It's 49 - 23 at halftime.  Back to the Minnesota - Penn St. game. YAY

William's picture

This just in, Aaron Craft is still really good at defending. 

Jugdish's picture

Loving is for real. What a freshman.

Remember to get your wolverine spayed or neutered. TBDBITL

Seattle Linga's picture

Watching Loving grow will be amazingly fun!

andyb's picture

He's supposed to get taller???
Sorry, couldn't resist. I know I'm in 1st grade.

KE's picture

Neither Amir nor Trey are showing much today. Might be our Achilles heel later on.

William's picture

Amir was solid defensively, McDonald kept getting beat by that hook shot. 

BassDropper's picture

Loving is going to be a great one.
btw this play by play announcer is god awful


sbentz4's picture

I'm pretty sure he is a student, but I actually think Matt Sylvester is a pretty solid color man.

William's picture

Amir fouls out with 4 points and 7 rebounds. 

William's picture

OSU just running them out of the gym now. 

Seattle Linga's picture

Good job bucks now get some rest and get ready for Tuesday's game vs. OU

ScarletNGrey01's picture

Will have to watch the game Tuesday prior to the OU game, but the stats look impressive.  Matta seems to be going to the bench more the past couple of seasons (even after the OOC schedule, we'll see how that goes).  Only one game and FAR too early to predict, but Craft (great kid, huge fan along with everyone else in Buckeye Nation, love his grit and academic excellence, makes you proud to be a buckeye) is going to have to show at least a little offense I think for his dream to play in the NBA to come true.  Otherwise, he'll have to go to a fallback plan, as in becoming a brain surgeon LOL.

The will to win is not as important as the will to prepare to win. -- Woody Hayes