Preview: Wyoming at No. 8 Ohio State

By Kyle Rowland on November 25, 2013 at 10:30a
Like father, like son.Larry Nance Jr. dunks with authority.
Ohio State Buckeyes #8 Ohio State 4-0, 0-0 Big Ten Roster | Schedule 7:00 PM ET - BTN —— The Schott Columbus, OH —— [TICKETS] Wyoming Cowboys Wyoming 4-1, 0-0 MWC Roster | Schedule

Ohio State’s non-conference schedule rarely features much in the way of resistance. The Buckeyes load up on cupcakes in November and December and waltz into the Big Ten slate highly ranked but mostly untested. It’s hard to argue with the model when you consider the success under Thad Matta, unless you’re doling out money for tickets to see Northeast State and Zanesville A&M.

This season has already featured a dominant road win against ranked opponent, but two home games against Ohio and American have presented much closer than expected wins. Sloppy offensive play has been the theme. In the latest win over American, Ohio State shot 35.7 percent from the field and 18.8 percent from beyond the arc.

“I just didn’t think we got better,” Matta said, referencing the gap between the Marquette and American game. “That was probably the biggest thing. We were OK, but I don’t know if we played at the level that I wanted to play at.”

The only area the Buckeyes are lacking is offense. Matta believes confidence is low. Ohio State is second-to-last in the Big Ten in scoring at barely more than 70 per game, while the defense is among the best in the country.

LaQuinton Ross, thought to be the offensive savior this season, has scored a whopping seven points per game – 28 in all. The junior forward is 1 for his last 13 from the field and just 9 for 37 in the young four-game season. Senior point guard Aaron Craft spent the spring and summer overhauling an inconsistent shot but has seen little in the way of results so far. He’s shooting 34.5 percent from the floor, the worst percentage of his career.

“It’s frustrating,” Craft said. “It’s probably a combination of things. Maybe confidence. We’ve put the time in. Right now, I think we might be doing a little too much thinking, might be pressing a little too much. We just need to trust in the work that we’ve put in and trust in our teammates. We need to focus on being ready to make a play with the ball.”

4 A. Craft SR 6-2/195 10.5 4.8 6.0 G 2 R. Grabau JR 6-2/175 15.6 1.2 2.4
3 S. Scott JR 6-1/185 12.5 4.8 3.8 G 14 J. Adams SO 6-2/175 11.2 2.8 2.8
32 L. Smith Jr. SR 6-4/210 9.5 3.8 0.8 F 20 N. Sobey SR 6-3/185 7.6 2.4 1.6
10 L. Ross JR 6-8/220 7.0 5.3 0.8 F 11 D. Cooke Jr. JR 6-9/220 6.4 7.8 1.0
23 A. Williams JR 6-11/250 9.5 6.8 0.3 C 22 L. Nance Jr. JR 6-8/225 11.8 8.4 2.2


Wyoming enters Monday night’s game with a 4-1 record, the lone loss coming by five points to a presumed NCAA Tournament team in Colorado. The Cowboys have shot at least 50 percent from the field in their last three games. They average 72.8 points, shoot 50 percent from the field and 42 percent from three-point range.

Wyoming, like Ohio State, can also play defense. It has not allowed a fast-break point in four of five games this season. The Cowboys are holding opponents to 61 points per game and 36 percent shooting.

Larry Nance Jr., the son of Cavs legend Larry Nance, is the catalyst for Wyoming on both ends of the floor. He’s averaging 11.8 points, 8.4 rebounds, 2.2 assists and 1.8 blocks per game. Nance has reached double figures scoring in four of five games.

Guards Riley Grabau (15.6 points) and Josh Adams (11.2) are also averaging double figures. Grabau is the best overall shooter, converting on 57 percent of his shots from the field. He’s actually better from 3, where he’s 14 of 23.

Buckeye Breakdown:

Marc Loving enjoyed a standout high school career that included being named Mr. Basketball his senior season and twice being honored as a first-team All-Ohio selection. But he still wasn’t in the same league as Jared Sullinger, BJ Mullens and other recent Ohio-born players.

Through four games, though, Loving has become a stabilizing force for a team that’s struggling mightily on offense. In the past two games, he’s taken over for Ross in the second half. On the season, Loving is averaging 6.5 points and 2.5 rebounds in 15.5 minutes per game.

Toledo's finest.Marc Loving is a freshman difference-maker.

His performance has surprised many fans who didn’t expect immediate returns from Loving. However, coaches and teammates started seeing glimpses of production in practice. Loving, 6-foot-7 and 215 pounds, earned praise for his sharpshooting.

“I’m probably a little bit surprised at how quickly he’s adapted,” Matta said. “The greatest thing Marc has going for him is he wants to be a player. He’s a sponge in learning and studying film. He’s only had two ‘freshman’ practices, and he knew he had them. He came back and followed them up with a great practice.”

Loving is one piece in a nine-man bench. It remains to be seen whether his playing time takes a hit once Big Ten season arrives, as Matta tends to whittle down his list of substitutes. If it were up to Lenzelle Smith Jr., though, Loving would be a shock to the system – all season.

“The cat is out of the bag on everybody except Marc Loving, who’s going to provide pretty solid minutes and points for us,” he said. “He’s one of the top-notch shot-makers on our team. That will be a surprise and new face for our fans.

“I know how difficult it can be to transition from high school to college. It’s a totally different ballgame. But if he can transition what he’s doing in practice to the games, he’s going to be great.”


  • Ohio State is 2-1 all-time vs. Wyoming and 8-6 against teams from the Mountain West.

Comments Show All Comments

UrbanCulture's picture

Sounds like a decent test offensively and defensively for the bucks. Hoping to see a more confident and fluid team out there tonight.

TraptnMI's picture

Ineffective offensive system when you don't have a descent big man that can pop out and hit 16 footers. When your guards cannot shoot well, they can ring around the rosie all they want, won't work when they all play zone and make you shoot jumpers. Should incorporate some Princeton backdoor cuts, like American did. Pray for Mr. Turner! Shannon Scotts alot better than you thought, Huh!

" It's real good whatcha done Anthony, real good ! "

Toilrt Paper's picture

I can name a truck load of GREAT centers that rarely if ever shot a jump shot let alone one as far as 16 feet from the basket.

tennbuckeye19's picture

Hey now, Zanesville A&M is a formidable opponent...

Seattle Linga's picture

They will need to be ready at tipoff time tonight.

Toilrt Paper's picture

Who would have ever thought that Shannon Scott would be the leading scorer on this team. Credit goes to his off season work, but it means currently this team has a big problem.

canukeye's picture

Another fun Thad Matta team to watch.  Interesting to watch how deep Thad is going.  He usually does not go this deep come Big Ten play, but he went pretty deep against Marquette.  I have to wonder if he isn't prepping the players for the new foul rules that will affect all teams come conference play.  
I'm confident the offense will improve as the season progresses.  And as soon as everyone is about to give up on them they will start playing their best basketball come the right time of year.  It's not how you are playing in November, but how you are playing in March.

It's not the band that I hate.  It's the fans.

GregB's picture

Wyoming is always pretty good. This is no chump. They have a good basketball history.  
This will be a good test and Im excited to watch it.

bucksfan92's picture

OSU's non conference opponents aren't all top 25 schools, but we play just as many tough teams as any other top program does.  That game @Marquette, who is probably going to win the BE and had a 27 game home win streak sure gave us resistance.  The B1G-ACC challenge has featured games vs UNC and Duke in recent years, and we have played series with Kansas, WVU, Florida to name just a few.  Matta picks these teams for particular reasons, he always has a couple teams that play slow down crap since we see that in the B1G from Wisky and NW and to some extent MSU. He plays up tempo teams as we see that with Iowa and in the NCAAT.  Every OOC game is a calculated move, these aren't just thrown together.
Tonight's game was about as frustrating as the game vs American.  For the life of me, I do not understand why we let teams dictate the slow tempo.  Early on when we had the 10 point lead it was when we were playing fast and furious.  Then when we finally flipped that switch again, 7 minutes into the second half, we dominated again.  This team has a TON of work to get to where they need to be.  Q needs to find his zone, Smith needs to not disappear for stretches, and Craft needs to find that shot that he worked on over the summer.  Some bright spots have been Scott - he is really the most consistent player right now and doing a great job.  Williams has really improved as well, and I am thrilled with what I see from Loving - that kid is gonna be great, he really seems to have good basketball IQ to go along with his physical talent.