MORGANTOWN, W.Va – In easily their toughest non-conference game this season, the West Virginia Mountaineers will travel to Cleveland, Ohio Saturday to take on the Ohio State Buckeyes.
In a top-25 matchup, No. 2 Ohio State (11-1) and No. 22/23 WVU (10-1) will play in the first game of the Cleveland Classic in Rocket Mortgage Area.
The Buckeyes have rocketed to the top of the national rankings early this season, already sporting wins against Kentucky, North Carolina and Villanova. WVU coach Bob Huggins says that there is one thing that makes the Buckeyes so good.
“They really make shots,” Huggins said. “Make shots you’re pretty good, you don’t make shots you’re not very good. That’s the nature of what we do. They really, really make shots. … It’s a pretty easy formula. Hard to do, but it’s an easy formula.”
Ohio State is shooting 49.1% from the floor this season, including 40.9% from three, led by Duane Washington Jr. and D.J. Carlton. Washinton and Carlton combine for 22.2 points per game and shoot a combined 51.8%. The team’s leading scorer is big man Kaleb Wesson who averages 13.9 per game. Wesson also averages nine rebounds and has made 18 threes this season.
Their team shooting percentage ranks 17th-best in the nation and tops the Big 10. WVU’s 44% shooting percentage is tied for 172nd with UC Riverside.
Defense is where the two teams match up well together. Ohio State ranks fifth in the nation with a 35.2% opponent field goal percentage, but WVU is not too far behind at nine with a 36.2 opponent percentage.
The game Saturday will be the third time a Bob Huggins led WVU has played Ohio State. The Mountaineers have never lost in that time, defeating No. 21 OSU 71-65 in 2010 and No. 15 OSU 76-48 in 2009.
West Virginia’s schedule gets no easier after this game as the team travels to Lawrence, Kansas to take on the Jayhawks on Jan. 4. Huggins said having these two games in a row is a good opportunity for WVU.
“You go beat Ohio State and Kansas back-to-back people are going to start talking about you.”