Greetings Hoops Fans! This is Dave Horning for HoopsOnLane.com Fan Podcast with a preview of the upcoming game between the Ohio State Buckeyes and the Rutgers Scarlet Knights to be played on Tuesday, February 20, 2018 at the Schottenstein Center – the final home game of the season for the Buckeyes. Tip-off is 7:00pm Columbus time. The game will be televised on the Big Ten Network, and broadcast on radio at The Fan 97.1 FM.

But plan to attend this game in person! Let’s Fill Up the Schott!! This is the final home game for seniors Jae’Sean Tate, Kam Williams, Andrew Dakich and, possibly, for Junior Keita Bates-Diop if he decides to turn pro after the season is over.

Tickets are available at: www.ohiostatebuckeyes.com

Some tickets are priced as low at $10 – so bring the entire family out on Tuesday night for this early game.

The Buckeyes have now lost two games in a row – at Penn State and at Michigan – so the team needs our support as they return home for their last home game and a great opportunity to re-gain the momentum. The Buckeyes record in the Big Ten is now 13 wins and 3 losses – tied with Purdue for second place, a full game behind first-place Michigan State.

Rutgers played last on Saturday, February 17 – a loss at Maryland by the score of 51 to 61 – which means that Rutgers has not won a Big Ten road game all season – let’s keep that streak intact.

Rutgers’ record in the Big Ten is now 3 wins against 13 losses – tied for 12th place with Iowa. In the Team Rankings website of all 351 Division 1 Men’s Basketball programs, Rutgers is ranked Number 207 – Ohio State is now ranked Number 20. In the AP Poll, Ohio State is now ranked 17, and that reflects the losses at Penn State and at Michigan.

But Rutgers does pose a threat because they never give up. The Buckeyes played at Rutgers on Sunday, January 14th, and built a 28 to 15 half-time lead, and extended that lead to 30 points after 7 minutes in the second half – going up 48 to 18. It was a great defensive game played by the Buckeyes. However, by the end of the game, Rutgers had cut that lead to 18. In their last game against Maryland, Maryland built a 24 point lead with 7 minutes left in the game, leading Rutgers by the score of 50 to 26. But with 40 seconds left, Rutgers had cut the lead to just 7 at 58 to 51.

This means that the Buckeyes will need to play 40 minutes of solid basketball, and that the bench will need to contribute. Our bench was outscored by Michigan’s bench by a margin of 26 to 6. Ohio State did not shoot well when they last played Rutgers, making only 7 of 21 3-point shots for 33%.
I would love to see the Buckeyes get untracked on offense and put together a solid night of shooting. I’d love to see Keita Bates-Diop attempt 10 3-point shots. Kam Williams was solid against Rutgers in January – making 4 of 5 shots, including 2 of 3 3-point shots. It would be great to see Kam Williams get untracked in his last game at the Schott.

Kaleb Wesson was very effective against Rutgers – look for the Buckeyes to work the ball down low into Kaleb, who should be able to score or pass back out for an open shot.

Ohio State out-rebounded Rutgers in that last game by the margin of 46 to 30 – this is another key to this game – the Buckeyes need to maintain their rebounding dominance. Rutgers did get 12 offensive rebounds in their last game against Maryland, so we cannot take this rebounding edge for granted. The Buckeyes will need to block out on the defensive side after Rutgers shoots.

Here’s the starting lineup for the Rutgers Scarlet Knights:
Number 21 – 6-9 Freshman Forward Mamadou Doucoure
Number 11 – 6-6 Sophomore Forward Eugene Omoruyi (“ah ma RUE ee”)
Number 9 – 6-9 Sophomore Guard Issa Thiam – a 3-point threat who makes 38% of his 3-point attempts
Number 3 – 6-2 Junior Guard Corey Sanders – the leading scorer for Rutgers averaging 14 points a game
and, finally, Number 4 – 6-4 Freshman Guard Geo Baker – leading 3-point threat who makes 36% of his 3-point shots. He made 4 of 8 against the Buckeyes in January – so watch out for Number 4 – Geo Baker.

Coming off the bench, look for Number 33 – 6-7 Senior Forward DeShawn Freeman

Rutgers is coached by Steve Pikiel in his second year.

Ohio State’s Starting Lineup will probably be:
Number 34 – 6-9 Freshman Center Kaleb Wesson
Number 33 – 6-7 Junior Power Forward Keita Bates-Diop
Number 24 – 6-6 Sophomore Forward Andre Wesson
Number 3 – 6-1 Junior Shooting Guard or Point Guard CJ Jackson, and
Number 1 – 6-4 Senior Jae’Sean Tate, Point Guard or Small Forward

Andre Wesson has been playing strong defense and that has kept him in the starting lineup. However, will Number 15 – 6-2 Senior Guard Kam Williams get the start since it will be his last home game for Ohio State? We could use his scoring punch.

Ohio State is coached by Chris Holtmann, in his first year.

This will be Senior Day for the Buckeyes – so get their early and cheer for those Buckeyes making their final appearance. Tip-off is 7:00pm.

This is Dave Horning for HoopsOnLane.com Fan Podcast. I’d love to hear you comments and feedback. You can contact me at hoopsonlane@gmail.com. See you at the Schott!