|Ohio State 22-13, 10-8 Big Ten Roster | Schedule||April 1, 2008 9:20 PM ET - ESPN2 —— The Garden New York, NY||Mississippi 24-10, 7-9 SEC Roster | Schedule|
OPPONENT: Mississippi started the season ablaze, winning their first 13 games and then, they lost 9 of their next 17 once they entered conference play. Their 7-9 conference record was good for seventh place in the SEC and as all Big Ten fans know, that would be good enough for first in our conference...SEC speed dude.
Mississippi is shooting 46 percent overall, 36 percent from downtown and 66 percent from the line, which has lead to 80 points a contest. The Rebels are outrebounding their opponenets by 6.1 a game and they dish out almost 16 assists per contest. Ole' Miss takes care of the rock by only turning it over 13 times a game, while forcing their opposistion into 14 turnovers.
KEY PLAYERS: Mississippi uses a 3 guard lineup, similar to what Ohio State saw against Dayton. Ole' Miss is lead by their 5'11" freshman guard, Chris Warren, who leads this team in minutes, points, assists and turnovers. For the year he is scoring 15.7 points and handing out 4.5 assists per contest, but also averages 3 to's and could fall victim to OSU's pressure defense.
Dwanye Curtis, a 6'8" senior, will test Ohio State's bigs. He is fourth in the nation grabbing 3.5 offensive boards a game and averages 9.5 total rebounds, while scoring 15 points. He is shooting over 64 percent from the floor and did not attempt a three pointer this season. Eniel Polynice is a 6'5" sophomore who comes in scoring 10.8 points, grabs 5.4 caroms and dishes out 4 assists per game.
David Huertas, a 6'5" sophomore, comes in averaging 10.6 points and almost 4 rebounds, while only shooting 38 percent from the field. The 6'8" senior, Kenny Williams looks to be the other starter, scoring 8.5 points and grabbing 6.7 boards. He is shooting 53 percent from the floor and a whopping 49.4 percent from the line. Trevor Gaskins (6'2" Fr.) and Zach Graham (6'5" Fr.) seem to be the two top reserves for the Rebels, each playing about 17 minutes a game and chipping in with just over 6 points a contest.
NOTES: The Rebels are coached by Andy Kennedy, the former Cincinnati assistant and interim coach, who is 45-23 in his two seasons... Chris Warren broke the school record for 3's in a season and set the freshman scoring record at Ole' Miss... The Rebels are 1-6 all time against the Big Ten... The 24 wins is the second most in school history.
BUCKEYE BREAKDOWN: (Take yourself back a few weeks...) Now name me the Big Ten team who will be the last to be playing in the 2008 season. What a difference a couple of weeks can make. Ohio State has taken this NIT bid and turned it into a valuable learning and winning experience, earning their second trip to NYC this season. I know I have sat in wonderment the last week questioning where this team was all season.
Thankfully Ohio State has saved their best ball for the end, scoring more than 70 points in three straight for the first time all season. They have beaten their opponents by an average of 15 points a game and seem to be playing ball with a bit more relaxation. While I was dissappointed by not getting the NCAA bid, I think this NIT invitation was the best thing for this team, almost three extra weeks of practice can only help jump start this group into next season.
KEY PLAYERS: Four Buckeyes are averaging in double digits during this tourney, with Kosta and Jamar leading the way at 17.7 points a game. Othello is scoring 10.7 and leads the team with 7.7 boards and D-Light is chipping in with 10 points during the NIT. I have said it before, I hope Kosta can turn down the millions of dollars he has earned himself in the last couple of weeks. He has hit 73 percent of his shots (24-33), including 9 of 11 against Dayton and has shown his wide array of offensive moves.
Thankfully Jamar has returned to form and his legacy at OSU is still in tact. I know we have all been critical of him at certain points during this season, but he has rewritten the Ohio State record books and deserves his props. This team has missed Mike Conley Jr. tremendously this year, but I have a feeling Jamar is going to be missed even more next season.
So what Jon Diebler and Evan Turner show up for this road trip? Diebler scored 10 points last game, but we all have seen his troubles on the road this year. Turner has to be hurt. He did score 11 against Dayton and his defense is still stellar, but his offense seems to be a bit off in the last month or so.
NOTES: OSU is now 33-1 when The Wiggler scores 4 or more points... Butler needs 8 points to pass Clark Kellog for 23rd on the all time list... OSU is 56-17 when Butler dishes out 4 or more assists... OSU has a blog going for the NYC trip... I am not a journalist and will not look to make a career out of it.