After failing to take a significant leap last season, Keita Bates-Diop appears poised to take that giant step this year. The junior forward aims to lead Ohio State past visiting Northeastern when the teams square off Sunday.
Bates-Diop improved significantly as a sophomore but was limited to nine games last season due to a stress fracture and watched many of his numbers decline during the abbreviated campaign. This season, however, Bates-Diop has scored at least 17 points in all three games, has notched three straight double-doubles and is a crisp 7-of-15 from 3-point range. He was one of three Buckeyes to notch 17 points in an 18-point win over Texas Southern last time out and leads the team at 19.3 points per game. Northeastern opened its campaign with back-to-back wins before falling at Stanford on Friday.
TV: 2 p.m. ET, Big Ten Network Plus
ABOUT NORTHEASTERN (2-1): The Huskies are a rare team that has no players averaging double-digit points, as Devon Begley (9.3) leads seven players scoring at least 7.3 points per game on the young season. Begley was 2-of-11 on Friday, when Donnell Gresham Jr. registered a team-high 15 points against Stanford behind 4-of-6 shooting from 3-point range. Northeastern has more turnovers (47) than assists (42) with Vasa Pusica leading the team with 11 of each.
ABOUT OHIO STATE (3-0): The Buckeyes, who open their season with four straight home games, have begun the campaign with three consecutive double-digit wins. Jae’Sean Tate and Micah Potter matched Bates-Diop with 17 points against Texas Southern, and Tate has averaged 15 points and 8.5 rebounds over his last two outings. Junior C.J. Jackson chipped in eight points and nine assists but shot 2-of-13 from the floor and 1-of-9 from behind the arc last time out.
1. Ohio State F Kaleb Wesson, named Mr. Basketball in Ohio after his high school senior year last season, was suspended for the Texas Southern game for “failure to meet the expectations of the men’s basketball program.”
2. Bates-Diop is the first Ohio State player with three straight double-doubles to open a season since Evan Turner in 2009-10.
3. In the only prior matchup, Northeastern upset Ohio State 76-74 in 1985.
PREDICTION: Ohio State 66, Northeastern 55