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Nov 28, 2023 4:45 pm

Ohio State faces Central Michigan, looks to stay hot

Ohio State hopes to carry momentum from a championship weekend into its home game against Central Michigan on Wednesday night in Columbus, Ohio.

The Buckeyes (5-1) won the Emerald Coast Classic with an 86-56 victory over Santa Clara on Saturday in Niceville, Fla., after defeating then-No. 17 Alabama 92-81 the previous night.

Ohio State coach Chris Holtmann was happy the returnees from last season’s team that went 16-19 earned some hardware.

“When you play in these environments where there is a trophy in the end, it matters,” he said. “That’s why you play in these type of tournaments.”

Central Michigan (2-4) also was in Florida vying for a title, losing 71-61 to Stetson in the Ocean Bracket of the Sunshine Slam in Daytona Beach on Nov. 21.

The Chippewas will look again for leadership from Brian Taylor, as they did last week when he was named to the all-tournament team. Taylor averaged 21 points, seven rebounds and shot 55 percent from the floor in the two tournament games, including a 70-56 first-round win over Siena.

But Central Michigan coach Tony Barbee said the Chippewas are far from a one-man show.

“This is the deepest team and probably the most talented offensive team that I’ve had since I’ve been here,” he said.

The Buckeyes, who have won four straight games, look forward to the challenge of stopping the Chippewas, as Holtmann has made defense a major emphasis this season.

Alabama entered Friday’s game averaging 101.8 points.

“That’s what we have to hang our hat on this year,” Holtmann said. “I’m sure they are tired of me talking about it. It’s just an area where we had to get better in the last couple of years. We have made some strides, but we’re not there yet.”

That goal is particularly urgent because the Buckeyes’ first Big Ten game will be Sunday against Minnesota. Then comes Miami (Ohio) before another conference game at Penn State.

–Field Level Media

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