Rhode Island (0-2) vs. Ohio State (1-0)
Saturday November 17th
Hall of Fame Tipoff Classic
Mohegan Sun Arena
Tip Off: 5 PM ET
TV/Online Coverage: ESPN 3
Radio: OSU Radio Network ( Marty Bannister/Ron Stokes)
Series Record: 0-0
Saturday, November 17
12 PM Norfolk State vs. Loyola-MD | 2:30 PM UMKC vs. Albany | 5:00 PM OSU vs. RI |7:30 PM Seton Hall vs. Washington
The Naismith Hall of Fame Tipoff Classic gets underway on site in Connecticut on Saturday as the Ohio State Buckeyes take to the road to battle Atlantic 10 For Rhode Island. This weekend will mark the first meeting between these two schools.
Rhode Island has turned the page on the past and is looking to rebuild toward the future. Despite losing to Virginia Tech and Norfolk State – The Rams are looking to set a new tone to the program. Under new guidance, It will be interesting to see if this program can live up to it’s always high expectations. They will have a tough road in the always competitive Atlantic 10. But they have some solid new leadership that could turn things around quickly.
The Buckeyes come into this one still trying to figure out rotations, playing time and identity. This will be their first chance at a mid-major, with a tournament championship game in the wings against either Washington or Seton Hall.
Let’s Break it down further in our full game preview.
Last Game Review:
Overall, The Buckeyes stepped up to the plate in their first game of the season, and we really got a glimpse of what’s to come. If this team can gel together throughout the year, they could be extremely dangerous down the stretch.
One thing we know is that they have to have success from beyond the arc to compensate for the offensive post game. Though the Buckeyes did a great job against Albany in the post, outscoring them 34-16 in the paint. The bench stepped up as well scoring 21 points as Ohio State closed the game at the end of the first half with a 17-2 run heading into the locker room. Aaron Craft had a career high 20 points and seven assists. He also shot 5/7 from downtown as well. Fans all summer long have been saying that for this team to have success, Craft will have to step up his game offensively.
He sure did in game one of the season. Lenzelle Smith Jr. and Deshaun Thomas also shot well from the floor. Smith went 8/11 and 2/2 from beyond the arc for a total of 18 points on the night. He also had five rebounds from the backcourt – already establishing his ability to get to the rack often. Thomas shot 7-17 and after starting cold, picked it up later – scoring 19 total points.
LaQuinton Ross and Sam Thompson really fit into their roles well in at the wing. Thompson was an all around terror in the first start of his career – scoring four points, grabbing three rebounds, dishing out three assists and blocking 4 shots on the day.
Rhode Island has opened up the season 0-2, as they have been outpointed by Norfolk State and Virginia Tech to start the season. Last time out against the Hokies, 69-50. Xavier Munford led the Rams with a team high 24 points on 11/22 shooting. The struggles for the Rams started beyond the arc, as they hoisted 21 threes.
Making just one.
Despite that fact, Rhode Island was in the ballgame at points. Virginia Tech went on a 13-0 run to start the ballgame and Rhode Island answered back, scoring eight straight to keep it close at 13-8 halfway through the first half. Tech then took control, going on an 11-2 run. The Rams got right back into it with a 14-2 scoring run to make it 28-24 with two minutes left in the first. The Rams would struggle from that point and not be able to bounce back.
Dan Hurley, Rhode Island – Anytime a program brings in a Hurley to rebuild their team into a winner, they should know that nobody in college basketball is going to work harder. His brother Bobby, who is his assistant coach, is an all-time leader in assists. As much as I hate Duke, you had to love the way he approached the game. Dan was the same way at Seton Hall.
Both got their grittiness, determination and competitive juices from their father Bob Hurley. The legendary New Jersey High School coach at St. Anthony in Jersey City has put together over 1000 wins and 26 state championships.
His only competition on the opposing bench for many years was his son Dan, who coached at rival St. Benedict’s Prep in Newark. He went 223-21 before taking over at Wagner College in Staten Island. In two years there, Hurley went 38-23 with a 25 win season last year. Hurley was named the 19th coach in Rhode Island history and is looking to snap their 19 game losing streak against ranked opponents. He has already established a solid recruiting base since stepping foot on campus in March.
Thad Matta, Ohio State – The Buckeyes are 40-5 under Matta in the month of November. He is the winningest coach in the Big Ten with a 222-65 record and has led the Buckeyes to three straight conference championships, and is only one of five coaches in B1G history to win four or more titles in their first seven years as coach. He is 109-20 in non-conference games.
Opposing Players to Watch:
Xavier Mumford, JR G – The Iowa Western College transfer played for coach Hurley at St. Benedict’s. After being named an NJCAA Division I All-American, Mumford made the trek to Kingston to become one of the Rams early play makers. Last year he averaged 16.6 points per game. Against Virginia Tech, he struggled from beyond the arc but did score 24 points.
Nikola Malesevic, SR F – The Serbian big man had a breakout year as a junior, starting 16 games and averaging 11 points per game. so far this year he is averaging aroudn 7 rebounds per game and sixteen points per game. Despite being a go to guy inside, Malesevic has struggled with consistency. He is currently shooting 32% from two point range.
Andre Malone, SR G – Malone didn’t make his Ram debut until his junior season, but he had some good games against game opponents early in the season. Malone really has game and had a great high school career as a three time Class AAA All-State selection in the state of Georgia. Grades would be a factor down the stretch though. He missed ten games last year due to academics.
The Buckeyes should out match the Buckeyes in almost every single facet of the game, but coach Hurley will lead Rhode Island eventually out of the doldrums of the Atlantic 10 Conference. The Rams have enough weapons to be dangerous, but this should be a game enough opponent to improve this squad heading into the championship game on Sunday. Make sure you join us for our live chat for Saturday’s game after the Wisconsin game on the gridiron!