Buckeyes and Bulldogs battle in Gotham Classic

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Updated: 12/11/2013 10:38 am

Columbus, OH (SportsNetwork.com) - The third-ranked Ohio State Buckeyes attempt to keep their unblemished season alive on Wednesday night, as they play host to the Bryant Bulldogs at Value City Arena as part of the Gotham Classic.

Bryant had been a winner of four in a row prior to its involvement in the Gotham Classic. After losing a home game to North Dakota State on Saturday (66-62), the Bulldogs traveled to Notre Dame on Monday and were handed a 70-59 defeat to fall to 6-4 on the season.

Ohio State has won all eight of its game this season, and after starting the campaign ranked No. 11, it has risen all the way to No. 3 thanks to early- season losses by several of the nation's elite teams. The Buckeyes most recently downed Central Connecticut on Saturday, 74-56, and they will round out the Classic with matchups against North Dakota State and Delaware before playing Notre Dame in the showcase game on Dec. 21 at Madison Square Garden.

The Bulldogs and the Buckeyes have never before squared off in men's basketball.

Bryant held a lead over Notre Dame late in the first half of its latest game but fell victim to an 18-2 run to close out the frame on its way to the double-digit setback. Alex Francis had a strong outing in spite of the loss, shooting 6-of-13 from the field and 5-of-6 from the free-throw line for 17 points. Joe O'Shea added 13 points, Dyami Starks put up 12 points, and Corey Maynard chipped in 10 points, seven assists, six rebounds and four steals. On the season, the Bulldogs boast a strong .473 field-goal percentage for 72.1 points per game, but they nearly allow the same amount of points on the other end (70.4). Starks ranks in the top-20 nationally in scoring with 22.1 points per game, draining 36.7 percent of his nearly nine 3-point attempts per game. Alex Francis is a strong second option with 16.3 points per game, while also ripping down a team-best 6.2 rebounds per contest.

The Buckeyes barely broke a sweat in their latest 18-point victory over Central Connecticut, as they shot a lofty 52.7 percent from the floor and forced their opponents into 20 turnovers. LaQuinton Ross was the catalyst offensively, scoring 23 points on 9-of-13 from the field. Lenzelle Smith, Jr. was also solid with 17 points, while Amir Williams logged 11 points and three blocks. It's no mystery why Ohio State has been so dominant this season when analyzing its numbers. Not only does it score 74.6 points per game on 47.7 percent shooting, but it has one of the nation's best scoring defenses (54.5 ppg) and boasts and outstanding +5.4 turnover margin. Although no one scores more than Smith's 12.1 points per game, at least six players net 8.6 points. Ross (11.4 ppg) is an impressive swing man. Aaron Craft (10.6 ppg, 5.0 apg) is one of the country's best perimeter defenders with nearly three steals per contest. Williams is a sturdy presence in the paint with 10.5 points. 6.9 rebounds and 2.3 blocks per game.

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