Preview: #13 Ohio State vs. West Virginia

By Corey Carpenter on December 26, 2008 at 1:45p
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Ohio State Buckeyes #13 Ohio State 9-0, 0-0 Big Ten Roster | Schedule 4:00 PM ET - CBS —— The Schott Columbus, OH West Virginia Mountaineers West Virginia 9-2, 0-0 Big East Roster | Schedule

Ohio State and West Virginia meet for the first time since 1995, starting a home and home series that will conclude next year in Morgantown. The Buckeyes won that '95 meeting 77-68 and hold a 9-5 series advantage, but have lost 5 of the last 6 between these two teams.

Of course, this also marks the return of Bob Huggins to the Buckeye state, who in is two years at WVU has guided the Mountaineers to a 35-13 record.

Huggy Bear was born in Morgantown, but played his high school ball in Ohio, which was followed up by a playing career at WVU, along with coaching stints at Ohio State, Akron and Cincinnati.

This game could be rough of the eyes for a while, so don't be surprised to see this one in the 50's. Huggins teams are always tough nosed, with great defense and outstanding rebounding abilities, while OSU is still figuring out new roles for everyone since Lighty's injury.

#NamePTSREBASSTPOS#NamePTSREBASST
2 Jeremie Simmons 7.1 2.8 2.7 G 25 Darryl Bryant 11.3 2.2 2.8
33 Jon Diebler 10.4 2.9 2.0 G 22 Alex Ruoff 17.0 3.6 2.8
44 William Buford 7.4 3.1 0.7 F 1 Da'Shean Butler 15.5 6.2 1.5
21 Evan Turner 16.9 6.8 3.1 F 35 Wellington Smith 6.5 4.1 1.1
52 Dallas Lauderdale 8.0 4.9 0.2 C 3 Devin Ebanks 7.5 6.7 1.4

Opponent

West Virginia got an early Christmas present when Alex Ruoff returned from injury last Saturday. He went for a school record 9 three's and scored 38 points in their victory over Radford on Tuesday. The lone senior on this team, Ruoff has averaged double figures in each of the past two seasons and attempts over 8 three pointers a game. Ruoff and Butler provide a dynamic 1-2 scoring punch, combining for 92 points over their last two games.

As a team, WVU is scoring 74.6 points a game, on 43.6 percent shooting overall and 33.3 percent from downtown. The stat that scares me the most is their 43.2 rebounds per game, with a little bit less than half of those coming on the offensive end.

On defense, they are allowing just 56.1 points a game, ranking them 13th in the country and are outrebounding their opponents by almost 10 per contest. They give up just 10.5 assists and teams are shooting 40.2 percent against them.

Huggins will primarily use 7 players, unless Joe Mazzulla returns from his injury. Kevin Jones and John Flowers will lead the way off the bench, scoring 5.9 and 6.5 points respectively. WVU has beaten Iowa (by 19) and Ole Miss, but has lost to Davidson and Kentucky.

Buckeye Breakdown:

The Buckeyes will have another chance to dominate in the paint, after outscoring UNC-Asheville 40-20 from there on Monday. The Mountaineers have four starters between 6'6" - 6'9", but Dallas and BJ combined for 30 points and 15 rebounds Monday. Neither one started and I expect Dallas to be back in the lineup Saturday, but as Chris said earlier this week, perhaps Matta will start Madsen again in order to steal early minutes and keep the twin towers out of foul trouble.

There are a couple of keys to Saturday's game that the Buckeyes will have to do in order to keep the nation's longest winning streak alive. First, the team rebounding effort must continue, especially on the defensive side. Ohio State has given up 31 offensive boards in the last two games and have outrebounded only three opponents thus far.

Secondly, the balanced scoring has to be there Saturday. OSU put four players in double figures Monday, Mullins (19), Turner (17), Buford (16) and Swatterdale (11), while Diebler and Simmons struggled to a combined 2-9. There are 6 players that could go for 15 any night and as long as at least 3 are reaching that mark each game, their season will continue to be a success. They simply must continue to drive the ball and put pressure on the defense.

One other thing to look for tonight is Evan Turner controlling his game from the elbow. Against most defenses, that space is constantly open and Turner started utilizing his abilities from there this week. If WVU allows him to catch the ball there he could put up another monster game, but the funny thing is, that is what we have come to expect from this rising star anyhow.

Etc

  • This is the fifth 9-0 start in OSU history (Thad has two of them) and the Bucks have reached the tourney the previous four, including two titles games in '61 and '62.
  • The Buckeye have not lost as a ranked team versus an unranked team at home since Dec. 16. 1980, a span of 41 games.
  • Verne Lundquist and Clark Kellogg will call the game for CBS.
  • This is a huge sports day for WVU, taking on North Carolina in their bowl game at 1pm.
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