Ohio State coach Chris Holtmann will face a familiar foe when the Buckeyes meet Butler in the fifth place game at the PK80 Tournament on Sunday in Portland, Ore. Holtmann compiled a 70-31 record with the Bulldogs, including three straight NCAA Tournament appearances, before bolting for Ohio State this past summer and hopes his acrimonious exit doesn’t overshadow the Buckeyes’ impressive start to the season following a 79-71 victory over Stanford on Friday.
“I don’t think these kinds of things end in a perfect way,” Holtmann told reporters. “There’s always going to be some feelings of animosity.” Cold-shooting Butler dropped a 61-48 decision to Texas in the quarterfinals before holding off Portland State 71-69 on Friday to set up their first meeting with Ohio State since 2009. “We’re still just six games into the season with a lot of guys in new roles, but we had the attitude and mindset that we wanted,” Butler head coach LaVall Jordan told reporters. “We can shoot the ball better and that will come, but this was a good team win.” Butler has won two of the last three meetings with Ohio State and four of the past five matchups with Big Ten opponents as the Bulldogs look to upend their former coach.
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ABOUT BUTLER (4-2): Tyler Wideman went 9-of-10 from the floor en route to 18 points, which is two shy of his career high, and pulled down eight rebounds in the win against Portland State after being held scoreless in the loss to Texas. Kelan Martin, who was 11-of-46 from the field in his previous three games, added 16 points and blocked a 3-point attempt in the dying seconds to secure the win. Paul Jorgensen drilled four 3-pointers and finished with 14 points while Sean McDermott, who scored 11 points against the Longhorns, suffered an ankle injury and is questionable for Sunday’s clash.
ABOUT OHIO STATE (5-1): Junior guard C.J. Jackson set a new career high with 23 points and pulled down six rebounds in the win against Stanford to finish in double figures for the third straight game. Keita Bates-Diop continued his sizzling start to the season as he contributed 18 points and 11 rebounds against the Cardinal to notch his fourth double-double of 2017-18. Jae’Sean Tate added 14 points and 10 rebounds for his second double-double of the season as the Buckeyes improved to 5-0 when scoring 70 or more points.
1. Ohio State has won four straight meetings with Big East opponents since 2008-09.
2. The Buckeyes are 4-0 when Diop registers a double-double.
3. Martin has scored in double figures in 14 of his last 15 games dating back to last season.
PREDICTION: Ohio State 73, Butler 70