|Ohio State hopes to work out kinks vs. Morehead State|
The nonconference schedule, as abbreviated as it is this season, is a time to solve problems before conference play begins.
Ohio State coach Chris Holtmann views the No. 23 Buckeyes' (2-0) home game vs. Morehead State (1-2) on Wednesday as another opportunity to see what does and doesn't need fixing.
The Buckeyes cruised to a 94-67 win over Illinois State in their Nov. 25 opener but trailed by five points in the second half to upset-minded UMass Lowell before winning 74-64 on Sunday.
Ohio State struggled with the River Hawks' zone defense and compounded the problem by missing their first 11 3-pointers before making four of seven down the stretch.
"You're trying to learn from every win and every loss from every circumstance," Holtmann said. "That's one of our core tenants. As a coach, I'm going to look back and say these are all the things we have to improve on. It's a significant list, but it's early in the season and hopefully we can make those strides. There's no question that we've got a lot to improve on."
Under normal circumstance, teams would have exhibition games and closed-door scrimmages. That hasn't been the case because of abbreviated schedules due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
"Each and every game you've got to get better and learn," Ohio State guard C.J. Walker said. "Film is going to be a big thing for us because we don't have those exhibition games early. We've got to learn really fast."
Morehead State's record is misleading based on its competition. The Eagles opened with an 81-45 loss at then-No. 10 Kentucky on Nov. 25 and two days later the Eagles were defeated by Richmond 82-64 on Kentucky's home floor.
On Sunday, Richmond won at Kentucky 76-64 and the Spiders are ranked 19th this week, a spot ahead of the Wildcats. So, Morehead State is used to playing quality opponents.
The Eagles defeated Arkansas State 69-61 on Sunday and it sounds like Ohio State may be facing more zone defenses.
"The two things we talk about every possession defensively especially in zone: You have to make them score from the perimeter and then you can't give up straight line drives and offensive rebounds," Morehead State coach Preston Spradlin said. "When we executed it, it was very effective."
In the Eagles' victory over Arkansas State they got double-doubles from Johni Broome (25 points, 12 rebounds) and DeVon Cooper (14 points, 12 rebounds). Broome's points were the most by a Morehead State freshman since Jordan Walker had 26 at Tennessee Martin four years ago.
The Buckeyes were led by Duane Washington Jr.'s 21 points against UMass-Lowell. He missed eight of 10 treys before hitting one with 67 seconds left that pushed the lead to seven.
He said the key was not to get discouraged by the misses and to concentrate on the next shot.
"The saying is shooters shoot and you've still got to be confident in yourself. I believed in myself," Washington said. "I let it fly with confidence and put it in."
--Field Level Media