|No. 23 Ohio State goes for 5-0 start at home vs. Samford|
COLUMBUS, Ohio -- After moving into the Associated Press Top 25 for the first time this season, No. 23 Ohio State pursues just its second 5-0 start in the past five years against unbeaten Samford on Tuesday night at Value City Arena.
The Buckeyes (4-0) joined the ranks of six Big Ten teams in the latest AP poll after a week that included a big road victory at Creighton as part of the Gavitt Tipoff Games.
Ohio State's latest win was an 89-61 rout of South Carolina State on Sunday at home. Sophomore center Kaleb Wesson scored 17 of his 18 points in the first half before sitting out most of the second half with the game well in hand.
"I thought our start was good," Ohio State coach Chris Holtmann said. "I still would like to see even more. I just think we need more consistency to our effort. I thought Kaleb's aggressiveness offensively set the tone."
Wesson had drawn lots of defensive attention in the first three games but was able to use his size, skill and experience against an undermanned opponent.
"He's been trapped or double teamed in some way every game, but certainly in the first three games, and so he's got to continue to make the right play if teams are going to throw two bodies at him on his catches," Holtmann said. "But he did a good job kind of slipping out of some screens and setting some and popping and making the right read, and we've really challenged him to continue to do that, playing on the perimeter some."
The Buckeyes showed no signs of a letdown after the come-from-behind win at Creighton. They built a 43-21 lead at intermission against South Carolina State and received significant contributions from freshmen Duane Washington, Luther Muhammad and Jaedon LeDee.
Washington scored 14 points, Muhammad had 12 and LeDee produced 12 points and six rebounds. Junior Andre Wesson also reached double figures in scoring with 11 points and added six rebounds.
Senior transfer Keyshawn Woods was feeling ill before the game and didn't score after leading Ohio State in the win at Creighton.
Four Ohio State players (C.J. Jackson, Kaleb Wesson, Washington, LeDee) have scoring averages in double figures and Muhammad is on the brink at 9.8.
Samford (5-0), coached by former Kentucky player Scott Padgett, hasn't played nearly the level of the competition that Ohio State has faced. The Bulldogs' wins came against North Alabama, Jacksonville State, Kennesaw State, Miles College and Cleveland State.
Seven-footer Ruben Guerrero, a native of Spain and a transfer from South Florida, leads Samford in scoring at 17.0 points and in rebounding with 8.8 per game. Brandon Austin scored a career-high 21 points in Samford's 73-60 win on Sunday at Cleveland State.
Padgett praised the Bulldogs for shutting down the Vikings in the second half.
"The guys played great defense throughout the game," Padgett said. "At the start of the second half, after they took the lead on the first possession, we played the defense since I started her at Samford. We had 11 straight stops that allowed us to separate from them and we finished the game strong with stops, rebounds and offensive execution."
Four of five Samford starters have season scoring averages in double figures. Josh Sharkey is averaging 14.2 points and 7.8 assists per game.