Battle of ranked foes pits Buckeyes against Golden Eagles

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Updated: 11/16/2013 10:54 am

Milwaukee, WI (SportsNetwork.com) - A matchup of nationally-ranked foes takes place at the Bradley Center on Saturday afternoon, as No. 10 Ohio State pays a visit to No. 17 Marquette.

Both teams come in sporting identical 2-0 records, with the Buckeyes having disposed of Morgan State (89-50) and Ohio University (79-69), and the Golden Eagles knocking off Southern (63-56) and Grambling State (114-71).

After a season in which it went 29-8 and reached the Elite Eight in the NCAA Tournament, Ohio State is hoping to make a run at the Big Ten Conference title this season, although the team will face stiff competition from the likes of Michigan State, Michigan and Wisconsin. This game represents the only one of the team's first 11 it will play outside of Columbus.

Marquette continues to call the Big East Conference home, although the league has a whole new look this season. Still, the Golden Eagles are considered the class of the conference as they attempt to pick up where they left off last season when they went 26-9 (14-4 Big East). MU is playing the third game in a four-game homestand to tip off the 2013-14 campaign, and it takes to the road for the first time nine days from now when it plays at Arizona State.

Ohio State owns a narrow 5-4 lead in the all-time series with Marquette, but the Golden Eagles have won three of the last four meetings. The teams have not faced each other since MU posted an 82-70 win in Columbus on Nov. 30, 1994.

These same two teams were supposed to open the 2012-13 season against each other aboard the USS Yorktown in South Carolina, but due to condensation on the ship's deck, the game was canceled.

Behind a potent offense (84.0 ppg) and a stingy defense (59.5 ppg), the Buckeyes have proven themselves dominant here in the early going. The team boasts five double-digit scorers, paced by Lenzelle Smith, Jr. and his 13.5 ppg. Sam Thompson (13.0 ppg) sits second on the team, despite coming off the bench in each of the first two tilts, while LaQuinton Ross is netting 12.0 ppg while pulling down 7.0 rpg. Amir Williams is inching toward averaging a double-double as he produces 9.0 points and 8.5 caroms per contest. Aaron Craft and Shannon Scott have both handed out 10 assists, while the former turns in 11.5 ppg and the latter 12.0 ppg.

Craft hit for 18 points and dished out four helpers for OSU in its 10-point win over Ohio University earlier in the week. Williams notched a double-double with 14 points and 10 boards for the Buckeyes, who shot just 40.9 percent from the field, missing 13 of their 18 3-point attempts along the way. They won the game thanks to a resounding 38-16 edge in points from the foul line, the team attempting a whopping 51 free throws on the night.

Due in large part to the 114 points scored against Grambling State, the Golden Eagles are averaging 88.5 ppg, while allowing just 63.5 ppg. They are shooting 49.2 percent from the floor, while holding the opposition to a mere 32.1 percent. There haven't been many negatives to this point, but they have converted only 9-of-31 long-range tries (.290), and 52-of-84 free throws (.619). Davante Gardner leads three MU players in double figures with 17.5 ppg, and Todd Mayo (14.0 ppg, 4.0 rpg) is next despite not appearing in the starting lineup. Jamil Wilson (10.5 ppg, 5.0 rpg) lends assistance from his spot in the frontcourt.

Chris Otule scored 17 points to pace eight Golden Eagles in double digits, as they trounced Grambling State on Tuesday night. Steve Taylor logged a double- double consisting of 16 points and 11 rebounds, Marquette coming up with 56 caroms in the contest, compared to 41 for the Tigers. The Golden Eagles hit 54.9 percent of their total shots, despite going just 5-of-18 from beyond the arc. Grambling finished the night a dismal 28.6 percent from the floor, actually shooting better from long range (.300).

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