No. 23 Ohio State goes old school in intrastate clash with Cleveland State
COLUMBUS, Ohio -- On the eve of the Ohio State-Michigan football showdown, the basketball program will indulge in a little nostalgia on Friday night in its intrastate matchup with Cleveland State.
The Buckeyes, who broke into the Top 25 rankings this week at No. 23, will wear vintage 1980 throwback uniforms and the game will be played at St. John Arena, their home from 1956 to 1998 before moving to the Schottenstein Arena.
The atmosphere should be electric in the old barn on the night before Saturday's gridiron clash across Woody Hayes Drive in Ohio Stadium. Ohio State (5-0) will be playing in St. John for the first time since 2010, an 85-60 victory over Western Carolina, and the clash with Cleveland State (2-3) is a sellout of 13,276.
"It's obviously a place that is beloved," Ohio State coach Chris Holtmann, who will take part in his first game there, told reporters. "St. John Arena is a fantastic environment from what I understand. I know we're all excited about it, but as coaches, we have to make sure our guys have the right approach come Friday night."
The Buckeyes' record in the historic venue is 431-151 and they're favored to add to that total in their second game this season against an in-state opponent after opening with a 64-56 victory at Cincinnati.
"It's a big game just as far as it's in St. John, and our next game is the biggest game of the year. That's how you have to approach it," Ohio State sophomore forward Kaleb Wesson said. "That, and my dad (Keith) played there, so there's a lot of family history there and there's going to be a lot of family there. So it's going to be fun."
Kaleb Wesson and his brother, junior guard Andre Wesson, are following in the footsteps of their father, who played at Ohio State from 1982 to 1987.
Ohio State, led by Kaleb Wesson's 19 points, remained unbeaten on Tuesday night with a 68-50 victory over Samford at Value City Arena. But the win didn't come as easily as expected.
The Buckeyes trailed by three at halftime after getting off to a sluggish start against previously unbeaten Samford. Kaleb Wesson was among four players who didn't start as a result of disciplinary action for arriving late for pregame activities.
The Buckeyes snapped out of their funk in the second half and outscored the Bulldogs 39-18 after intermission.
"This game should open our eyes and show us that now everybody's going to bring us their best," Ohio State graduate transfer guard Keyshawn Woods said. "So now we have to be prepared for each game and prepare like we want to win."
Cleveland State played Samford two days before Ohio State did and lost 73-60 in Cleveland after leading early in the second half.
Stefan Kenic, a 6-foot-9 sophomore from Serbia, led Cleveland State against Samford with 15 points, his third straight double-figures scoring game.
Guard Tyree Appleby is Cleveland State's leading scorer at 13.8 points per game. Kenic is the only other teammate in double figures at 10.4 per game.
The Vikings and Buckeyes have both beaten one other common opponent, South Carolina State.
"Just looking at their numbers, Ohio State is playing at a high level," Cleveland State coach Dennis Felton said.
Felton welcomed the four days between the games against Samford and Ohio State to get his team back in the gym to practice.
"We will prepare for Ohio State and what they bring, but it will be more about improving what we do," he said.
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