No. 10 Ohio State puts defense first as Kent State visits

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It will be battle of 5-0 in-state teams when Kent State plays at No. 10 Ohio State in Columbus on Monday.

For the Buckeyes, it will be their second in-state game, having beaten Cincinnati 64-56 in the Nov. 6 season opener.

In comparing how the Golden Flashes might fare against the Buckeyes, a look at a common opponent may be an indicator.

Kent State downed Purdue Fort Wayne 75-68 on Nov. 19. Three days later, Ohio State routed the Mastodons 85-46 in typical fashion under third-year head coach Chris Holtmann.

Kent State has beaten another Ohio school, Wright State 72-71 on Nov. 16, and is off to its first 5-0 start since 2002-03. But if the Golden Flashes have a chance to knock off the Buckeyes, they must find a way to score on an airtight defense and not fall behind early.

OSU is allowing 52.0 points per game and no opponent has made more than 20 field goals or shot better than 33 percent from the floor. The Buckeyes are winning by an average of 25.4 points per game and allowing teams to shoot 31.3 percent from the field.

Ohio State guard Duane Washington Jr. said the defense-first philosophy is a habit.

“The same approach every single day,” he said. “We’re all serious-minded guys right now. In practice, we’ve been locked in on the details and the little things, and that’s one of the reasons we’re playing the way we are.”

Purdue Fort Wayne coach Jon Coffman has seen that firsthand, having lost 107-61 to the Buckeyes last season.

“I will say how impressed I am — for the second year in a row — with the discipline Chris is able to get his team to play with,” he said. “Two games in a row here, he’s been able to take the space we create and really shrink it. He has his guys play a 40-minute game defensively.”

Ohio State jumped to a 25-7 lead against his team on Friday, but Kent State showed in an 89-59 win over Division II Concord on Friday that it can start well too.

After falling behind by six or more points in three of their first four games, the Golden Flashes opened a 7-0 lead on Concord and were up 50-32 at the half.

“It was important that we started the game out well,” said Kent State coach Rod Senderoff said. “I thought we got out to a great start. At halftime we had 11 assists and 10 offensive rebounds.”

The Golden Flashes were buoyed by the progress of guard C.J. Williamson. He broke his foot in preseason camp and had played only seven minutes this season before getting seven points, three rebounds, two steals and two assists in 14 minutes vs. Concord.

“He’s another guy that at different points in the season is going to add a lot to our team,” Senderoff said.

The game will be played at St. John Arena, home for the Buckeyes from 1956-98 until Value City Arena opened.

–Field Level Media

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