Ohio State will try to build off its lopsided opening win against Illinois State with another fast start against visiting UMass Lowell on Sunday in Columbus.
The No. 23 Buckeyes (1-0) jumped to a 22-0 lead en route to a 94-67 victory on Wednesday that was so comfortable that coach Chris Holtmann was able to play everyone on the roster as he seeks depth for the start of the rugged Big Ten season in December.
“We were able to extend the rotation a little bit,” Holtmann said. “Whether it was a close game or not, we were going to play a pretty extensive rotation, maybe 11 guys. We need to see what we’re capable of and what some of our guys are capable of, and more than anything we need film to be able to come back and make corrections.”
Ohio State will try to take advantage of UMass Lowell (1-1) playing its second game in less than 24 hours in a season where strangeness has become the norm because of COVID-19.
The River Hawks lost 82-72 to Illinois State on Saturday afternoon in Columbus despite 35 points by Obadiah Noel, preventing UMass Lowell from its best start since 2012-13.
The game was part of the multi-team event Ohio State arranged after the Buckeyes withdrew from playing in a tournament in South Dakota because of coronavirus concerns.
UMass Lowell had to pause practice in October after two members of the program tested positive.
The River Hawks also opened the season Wednesday, defeating San Francisco 76-68 at the Mohegan Sun Bubbleville Tournament in Uncasville, Conn.
UMass Lowell flew Friday to Columbus on a chartered flight, “Which is something none of my players have ever experienced, so they’re excited about that,” UMass Lowell coach Pat Duquette said.
The win over San Francisco impressed Duquette even before the Dons two days later beat No. 4 Virginia 61-60. He said his players had “four-and-a-half” practices coming out of quarantine before playing the first game.
“[It was] as good as a win for us, especially at the beginning of the year, that we’ve had in our program,” he said. “Hopefully, we’ll stay healthy but if we have to put on our masks and get tested every day and be inconvenienced here and there, if you ask my players if it’s worth it, I guarantee you they’ll be jumping up and down and saying, yeah, they’ll do it again.”
Even if it’s against the Buckeyes, who were led to the victory against Illinois State by California transfer Justice Sueing in his Ohio State debut. He had 19 points on 8-of-9 shooting in 20 minutes.
“I think it sets a good tone to show how good we can be,” Sueing said. “I feel like we’re just scratching the surface with this one. Obviously, it’s going to pick up as the season continues.”
Because of a men’s hockey game at Value City Arena the game, sans fans, will be played at the Covelli Center, the 3,700-seat facility that houses that houses Ohio State’s gymnastic, volleyball, fencing and wrestling teams.
–Field Level Media