Bowling Green hoping to topple No. 17 Ohio State

NCAA Men's Basketball

Other than sharing the word “Ohio” in their respective school names, there’s nothing similar between the opponent Bowling Green defeated Friday and the one it faces Monday in Columbus, Ohio.

The Falcons (1-1) downed Ohio Wesleyan, a Division III school near Columbus, 101-60 heading into another in-state matchup at No. 17 Ohio State (2-0).

“It gives us confidence even though Ohio Wesleyan is not Ohio State,” Bowling Green coach Michael Huger said. “It gives our guys a little boost that they played well. Hopefully that confidence will carry over into Ohio State.”

Despite the disparity in talent between Ohio Wesleyan and what the Falcons will face in Ohio State, Huger said working on fundamentals is the key no matter the opposition.

“We played hard from the start. We just have to build on what we did,” he said after the Ohio Wesleyan game. “We’ve got a tough one on Monday. The guys have to be ready and understand what we’re doing, the defensive schemes and everything that we’ll do. Hopefully, we’ll come out successful.”

Ohio State has won 25 straight games against Ohio teams in Columbus since a 59-50 loss to Bowling Green on Dec. 22, 1994.

The Buckeyes are coming off a pair of closer-than-expected games. They needed a basket at the buzzer by Zed Key to beat Akron 67-66 and led Niagara at the half by a point Friday before prevailing 84-74.

The Buckeyes have relied on E.J. Liddell. The junior forward scored 25 points against Akron, one off his career best, then broke the mark with 29 vs. Niagara.

“He’s just playing the game and playing the game the way it is,” Ohio State coach Chris Holtmann said. “I think he’s being aggressive. He’s got to turn it over a little less, but he’s had a great start offensively here.”

It wasn’t a one-man show for the Buckeyes as Penn State transfer guard Jamari Wheeler, known for his defensive play rather than scoring, had nine points in the final 7:30.

“I just go with the flow of the game,” Wheeler said, “I know Coach and the players, they’ll be on me like, ‘Be more aggressive on the offensive end.’ So that’s one thing I was looking to come into. But it’s just the flow of the game, and I felt like I was open, so I had to knock it down.”

Included in Wheeler’s production were two 3-pointers.

“It was great to see, because our team needs that from him,” Holtmann said. “He may not be a guy that’s going to create — he can create some — but what he can do is shoot the ball.”

Bowling Green had six players score in double figures against Ohio Wesleyan, led by Trey Diggs’ 20 points and Daeqwon Plowden with 14.

Huger likes the balance from the Falcons that allows him to utilize a deep bench.

“We mix it up in practice,” he said. “We don’t have a certain five that always plays together. We mix it up every day, so they’re used to different guys and different combinations.”

–Field Level Media

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