Chicago St.-Ohio St. Preview

The Associated Press

While Ohio State hasn't been able to keep up with two of the top teams in the country, the Buckeyes don't figure to have much trouble with Chicago State.

In its final tuneup before opening Big Ten play, No. 10 Ohio State tries to continue its domination of unranked foes Saturday against the visiting Cougars.

The Buckeyes (9-2) entered last Saturday's showdown against then-No. 9 Kansas having won nine of 10, with their only loss coming 73-68 at then-No. 2 Duke late last month. Ohio State, though, had a rough time against the Jayhawks as well, falling 74-66 in front of its home crowd.

The Buckeyes struggled offensively, shooting 9 of 36 in the second half - including a 10-minute stretch without a basket.

"We came out and battled. We didn't back down," said Aaron Craft, who missed seven of nine shots and had four turnovers. "Basketball is a simple game: get stops and put in the ball through the net. We didn't do that tonight. It comes down to getting tough, making stops when we need to and making shots when we need to."

While Ohio State has shot a combined 32.3 percent against Duke and Kansas, it's posted a 48.6 mark against everyone else. That shouldn't come as much of a surprise for a Buckeyes team that's won 76 of 77 against unranked teams.

Ohio State has been especially overpowering in such games at home. The Buckeyes have taken 60 straight in Columbus by an average of 24.6 points, going 117-1 dating to 2005.

That doesn't bode well for Chicago State (3-11), which is 0-3 in this series. Ohio State cruised to an 81-52 rout in the last matchup in 2005.

The Cougars are trying to avoid a fourth consecutive loss after falling 79-57 at Houston last Saturday. Guards Clarke Rosenberg and Jamere Dismukes led the way with 16 points apiece, but Chicago State was outrebounded 43-33 and limited to 34.4 percent shooting.

"They dominated us in the paint and it is hard to win games if teams can impose their will on you like Houston did," coach Tracy Dildy told the school's official website.

"We're still focusing on the big picture of getting ready for conference play and winning the Great West. Games like today help us improve."

While the Cougars held their own in a 73-65 loss at No. 22 San Diego State on Jan. 10, they dropped their previous 13 games against Top 25 opponents by an average of 34.4 points.

Ohio State, which hosts Nebraska in its first league action Wednesday, would surely love to see Craft get back on track before then. After averaging 17.0 points over his first three games, the junior point guard has posted 5.9 over his last eight while shooting a woeful 28.6 percent.

With Craft struggling, sophomore Shannon Scott could start to take on a bigger role. He had a career-high 15 points, six rebounds and four assists off the bench against Kansas.

"He surprised me with his speed," Jayhawks star Ben McLemore said of Scott. "He can get up the floor fast."

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