(4) Ohio State (1-0) vs. Rhode Island (0-2) (ET)
GAME NOTES: A first-ever meeting between the Rhode Island Rams and the fourth- ranked Ohio State Buckeyes takes place at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut today as part of the Hall of Fame Tip off Classic.
Following the cancellation of the Carrier Classic on the USS Yorktown in South Carolina due to condensation on the court back on Nov. 9, the Buckeyes had to wait until Sunday to finally tip off their 2012-13 schedule and they did so with an 82-60 victory over Albany as part of this event at Value City Arena in Columbus.
In that outing head coach Thad Motta, who is now 13-0 in season openers, watched his squad bury a total of 12 three-pointers, marking the 80th time in program history OSU has hit on double-digit triples in a single contest.
As for the Rams, their season under new head coach Dan Hurley has gotten off to a rocky start with two losses in as many tries. To begin URI was knocked off by Norfolk State at home, 67-55, and then earlier this week it was Virginia Tech that got the upper hand in a 69-50 final at Cassell Coliseum.
The winner of this meeting will go up against the survivor of the Seton Hall/Washington matchup in the next round of play on Sunday, while those two defeated programs will also take the floor against each other.
In the first-ever meeting between the Buckeyes and Albany, the Great Danes stood little chance against one of the top programs in the nation, as the hosts put on a 17-2 run at the tail end of the first half to assume control. Aaron Craft led the way on offense overall for Ohio State as he dropped in 20 points, shooting not just 6-of-9 from the floor but 5-of-7 behind the three- point line. Craft also added seven assists which was not just the high for OSU, it also was more than Albany had overall. Deshaun Thomas responded with 19 points, Lenzelle Smith, Jr. dropped 18 points and LaQuinton Ross 10 points off the bench as the group shot 57.1 percent from the field and 60.0 percent on the perimeter, yet only 6-of-13 at the free-throw line. As a ranked team Ohio State, which moved to 92-18 in home openers, now has a record of 427-116 and when ranked within the top-10 the mark is 306-67. Coach Motta now has a record of 109-20 versus non-conference foes, his teams in Columbus winning no less than 10 non-league bouts in each of the last eight seasons.
Against the Hokies on Monday, the Rams fell behind immediately and never recovered, trailing by as many as 21 points late in the second half before settling on the 19-point loss in Blacksburg. The team missed all eight chances behind the three-point line in the first half and was a mere 1-of-13 on the perimeter in the second, finishing at a woeful 4.8 percent. Shooting from the floor was only marginally better as the group hit 33.9 percent, at the free- throw line a disappointing 9-of-16 (.563). Xavier Munford was the lone double- digit scorer for the group with his 24 points, shooting a solid 11-of-22 from the field, but just 1-of-9 on the outside. Munford certainly learned a thing or two from the first game of the season against Norfolk State at home when he shot a dismal 3-of-19 from the floor and finished with only eight points. Already the guard has let fly with 41 shot attempts which is more than one- third the team's total. He's made just 34.1 percent of his chances, the Rams 31.3 percent.
It may take some time for the Buckeyes to get to cruising speed this season. Still, the team has too much talent to fall short against a struggling Rhode Island squad.