GAME NOTES: The Ohio State Buckeyes will attempt to keep their perfect record intact, as they play host to the Wyoming Cowboys on Monday night.
Wyoming, which has won 20 or more games in back-to-back campaigns, is off to a fast start this season, as it has won four of its first five games. The Cowboys are winners of three in a row, including a 70-53 triumph over South Dakota last Friday, but they have not fared well on the road, losing their only away bout at Colorado on Nov. 13, 63-58.
Ohio State is also off to a fantastic first few weeks of the season, as it has been as advertised as one of the top teams in the nation with a mark of 4-0. The Buckeyes most recently defeated American University on Nov. 20, 63-52, and they are currently in the midst of a season-long eight-game homestand.
The Buckeyes hold a 2-1 advantage in the all-time series with the Cowboys, and this is the first meeting since December of 1995.
The Cowboys made easy work of their overmatched opponent in their last outing, as they outshot South Dakota from the field, 50 percent to 31.7 percent, and had an efficient night from 3-point range (9-of-17) en route to the 17-point victory. Riley Grabau was impressive, knocking down 4-of-5 from beyond the arc on his way to a career-high 20 points. Derek Cooke, Jr. logged a double-double with 12 points and 11 rebounds, while Jerron Granberry netted 12 points in 21 minutes off the bench.
Wyoming has been stellar at both ends of the floor this season. Not only does it drain 50 percent of its field goal tries for nearly 73 points per contest, but it holds opponents to just 36.7 percent shooting and 61.0 points per game. Grabau leads the way with 15.6 points per game, doing so on outstanding percentages from beyond the arc (.609) and the foul line (.828). Larry Nance, Jr. (11.8 ppg, 8.4 rpg) is a nightly double-double threat, and also has nine blocks. Josh Adams (11.2 ppg) has a team-high 14 assists.
The Buckeyes' effort against American was hardly a dominant one, as it shot a lowly 35.7 percent from the field, including just 3-of-16 from beyond the arc, but they played ball-hawking defense by forcing 27 turnovers. Amir Williams led the charge from the paint with 16 points and seven rebounds, while Shannon Scott stuffed the stat sheet with 13 points, nine boards, four assists and three steals. Aaron Craft had just nine points on 2-of-9 shooting from the floor, but he proved why he is one of the best perimeter defenders in the nation by coming up with seven steals.
Ohio State has made a habit of putting forth well-rounded efforts, as it boasts strong margins in scoring (+19.3), rebounding (+2.3) and turnovers (+5.8). Despite the great start, OSU can stand to improve upon its mediocre field goal percentage (.419). Scott is draining greater than 54 percent of his total shots for 12.5 points per game, while Sam Thompson (11.0 ppg), Craft (10.5 ppg, 4.8 rpg, 6.0 apg, 3.3 spg) and Williams (9.5 ppg, 6.8 rpg) are also off to solid starts.
Wyoming is a talented team that will likely make some noise in the Mountain West Conference this season, but it will have its hands full against an elite Ohio State club in Columbus.