|Ohio State 3-0, 0-0 Big Ten Roster | Schedule||November 23, 2007 7:00 PM ET ------ Madison Square Garden New York, NY||Texas A&M 5-0, 0-0 Big 12 Roster | Schedule|
Opponent: Texas A&M comes into tonight's game with a 5-0 record under new coach Mark Turgeon, having beat Washington 77-63 in the other Season Tip-Off semi-final. The Aggies have not played any stiff competition thus far and their season stats show some flawed areas, but they will come in and play solid defense with some big bruising bodies.
While TAM is veteran group, they have struggled shooting the rock, averaging 77 pts./game, but shooting only 48 percent from the floor, 39 percent from 3land and an Ohio State like 59 percent from the charity stripe. Another glaring stat is the 1-1.1 assists to TO ratio, averaging 13.8 assists and 14.4 TO per game. The Aggies are a good rebounding team (43.4), especially on the offensive end, grabbing 19 against Washington and out rebounding opponents by 12.6 a game. Texas A&M came into this tournament as the favorite, so it will take everything Ohio State has to bring home the title.
Key Players: Like Syracuse and Ohio State, TAM has used a shorten bench as 7 players see significant playing time, but only three of them average double digit scoring.. Aggieland is lead by Josh Carter (#23 6'7" Jr.) scoring 13.8/game. Carter will launch from downtown, leading the nation in 3pt. FG accuracy last year at 50 percent. He also had 3 games of at least 8 threeballs and is the career Big 12 leader in 3pt. accuracy.
Joseph Jones (#30 6'9" Sr.) is a Wooden award watch top 50 finalist and had 17 in the win over Washington. This senior is a presence inside, averaging 11.8 pts. and 4.6 boards a game. He will occasionally step outside, but prefers getting to the line, leading TAM with close to 7 attempts per contest. Dominique Kirk (#22 6'4" Sr.) is the floor general, leading the team in assists (4.2) and scoring 9.6 per. He has started every game in his Aggie career, compiling a 75-26 record and earning Defensive All-American honors last season.
Rounding out the starting five is Donald Sloan (#15 6'3" So.) and DeAndre Jordan (#12 7'0" Fr.). Sloan poured in 18 against UW, but only averages 7.8 this season and doesn't seem to be a an assists threat with only 7 on the season. Jordan came into College Station as the #1 recruit out of Texas last year. He is their leading rebounder and shot blocker, averaging 8.6 and 1.0 respectively. He also chips in with 10.2 points and had a stretch of 4 games where he set a Big 12 record by hitting 17 straight field goals. A teammate of David Lighty's U19 team, DeAndre is 24-27 (89%) this season and will provide a good test for Ohio State on the inside.
Bryan Davis (#0 6'9" So.) and Derrick Roland (#3 6'4" So.) are the only two worth mentioning off the bench. Davis is another force in the paint, scoring 8 pts./game and grabbing 5.8 boards, good for second on the team. Roland is shooting only 37 percent and averages 5.5 pts./game.
Notes: Mark Turgeon came over from Wichita State and is 153-119 in 9 years as a head coach... Texas A&M is 8-16 all time against Big Ten foes, but have won 3 straight... This is the third meeting between Texas A&M and Ohio State (1-1), first since 1957.
Buckeye Breakdown: Ohio State impressed the nation Wednesday night in their 79-65 drubbing of Syracuse. The Buckeyes played a stiff zone defense, sprinkled with some full court to shut down the 'Cuse's guards, but they still gave up too many rebounds on both ends and will have to quickly fix that tonight against this scrappy Aggie team.
Ohio State comes in averaging 79.3 points a contest, shooting 51 percent from the floor, 41 percent from 3land. The Buckeye's still struggle from the line (64%) and on the glass (+1.7 rebounding margin), but continue to have a good assists to turnover ratio. If Ohio State can duplicate the defensive effort and freakin' rebound, I think they can come home with another title, giving Thad a 12-1 record in his last three tournaments.
Key Players: Thad continues to stick with a short bench and it could be even shorter tonight. Koufos continues to lead the offensive charge at 20.3pts. and 8 boards a game and yes, I think he is gone after this year. His offensive skill set is years ahead of Greg Oden's and I'm sure NBA scouts are drooling over his range and smoothness.
Othello Hunter needs to bottle up what he did Wednesday night and drink it before every game this season. I am driving the "O-Face" Hunter band wagon and his 13 points and 8 boards are making me look good so far, but he can not be timid tonight and must stay out of foul trouble.
Jamar Butler is hitting an amazing 54 percent from the arc, connecting on 13-24 thus far and he continues to be an extension of Matta on the floor. Check out these numbers: 37 minutes, 16.3 points, 6 assists, 4.3 boards and only 1.6 turnovers a game. Butler is now just 3 away from breaking the all-time 3 point mark at Ohio State.
David Lighty was a little off the other night, but I still like his aggression and comes in averaging 13 points and 5 boards. It is no secret Jon Diebler has been struggling from the field, but he to has been aggressive driving and leads Ohio State in FT attempts, making 10 of 11. I predict Diebler to have a multiple 3 pointer night and will give us a glimpse of his scoring power. Evan Turner will look to continue his improved play, coming off his 6point, 4 rebound and 3 assists game. He gives Ohio State some added length on the wing of their zone and should see increased minutes. The Wiggler and Dallas Lauderdale may also get playing time tonight, if the Buckeyes see some early foul trouble.
Notes: Ohio State is in the finals of their third straight tournament... Tonight will be the second of five games in an eleven day stretch and Ohio State will play 4 ranked opponents during that span, with #1 UNC and #22 Butler coming up next week.