Preview: Minnesota at #24 Ohio State

By Corey Carpenter on January 30, 2010 at 4:57p
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The young Jerry LucasWhen cool was really cool.
Ohio State Buckeyes #24 Ohio State 15-6, 5-3 Big Ten Roster | Schedule 1:00 PM ET - CBS —— The Schott Columbus, OH Minnesota Golden Gophers Minnesota 13-7, 4-4 Big Ten Roster | Schedule

The Buckeyes open a 3 game home stand Sunday, looking for revenge on the Gophers after their 62-73 loss in Minneapolis 22 days ago.

The Gophers have lost 3 of 4 since then, taking on the chin twice against MSU, by a total of 8 points and at Indiana in OT. Meanwhile, Ohio State has won 4 straight in the conference since the last meeting and now sit tied for third, a half game behind Whisky.

The Gophers have lost 5 of their last 6 at VCA and 20 of their last 23 when facing a ranked Ohio State team.

#NamePTSREBASSTPOS#NamePTSREBASST
21 Evan Turner 18.4 9.9 5.5 G 20 Lawrence Westbrook 13.7 2.3 2.1
33 Jon Diebler 13.0 2.9 1.8 G 34 Damien Johnson 10.2 3.8 2.1
44 William Buford 13.4 5.1 3.1 F 24 Blake Hoffarber 11.6 3.8 1.9
23 David Lighty 13.0 4.7 2.8 F 5 Devoe Johnson 8.7 2.4 2.6
52 Dallas Lauderdale 7.5 5.0 0.3 C 50 Ralph Sampson III 7.9 6.1 1.8

Opponent

In the first meeting, Blake Hoffaber went off for a career high 27, nailing 6 bombs in the second half and 7 of 9 for the game. The Gophers put another 3 players in double digits and used their depth to wear down Ohio State in Turner's second game back. Hoffaber has risen to the top nationally in 3-point shooting, hitting 49.6% (56/113) and is 6 behind Diebler in total made this season.

It's really hard to believe Minnesota is 14-7 after looking at their season stats, but minus the Indiana game, they have really struggled offensively over the last six. They are 8th nationally in TO margin (4.6), 9th in steals (10.1) and 7th in assists (17.7). Their 76.2 points a game rank them second in the B10 and their 47.4 percent shooting is third best, while their 3-point FG (39.3) and opponents FG (38.6) is tops.

Tubby hasn't shortened his bench any, rotating 10 guys for his patented high pressure defense. However, Al Nolan has sat out the last 2 games because of some academic issues and while it is under appeal, he may be lost for the season.

Buckeye Breakdown:

The Buckeyes are still undefeated at home and will look to reboot their offense, after their snoozer performance in Iowa City on Wednesday. OSU has won their 3 Big Ten home games by an average of 18 points and are shooting 53 percent from the field and 42 percent from deep at VCA on the year.

Jon Diebler was held without a trey for the first time in 30 games against Iowa and was 1 of 8 from deep in the first meeting with the Gophers. He has struggled since conference play has opened, as teams have started to become physical with him, clutching and grabbing at every opportunity. He has attempted to drive a bit more recently and after going three games without a rebound, he grabbed 7 against Iowa.

Even though he snagged just 2 rips against the Hawks, Dallas Lauderdale has been stepping up over the last three. He has gone for 32 points, 16 boards and 7 blocks in that span and has finally reached enough shot attempts to qualify for the conference lead in FG percentage at 76.3 percent, connecting on 61 of 80 shots. Over the last two season, The Big D has hit 122 of 165 shots from the floor, but conversely has made 61 of 135 FT attempts. It goes without saying his strong presence in the middle will be much needed as the season rolls on.

The lack of depth has been a concern for Thad all year and it held true in the first meeting with the Gophers. Even though Madsen, Simmons and Hill played 37 minutes, they combined to go for 2 points on 1 of 5 shooting, 3 boards and 1 assists, if the trio gets any minutes against the Minny, they have to be more productive. If Thad could've convinced Wallace or Offut into staying, I don't think depth would be an issue and he could throw in some 3/4 court trap a bit more often.

Though Minnesota is one of the best defensive teams, I'm not too worried about scoring in Sunday's game. As noted, the Bucks shoot well at home and the Turner/Buford combo has been tough lately. Lighty had 15 in the first meeting and 20 against Iowa, but needs to stay aggressive on the offensive side and not put all his attention towards stopping Hoffaber.

If the Buckeyes can limit their turnovers against the frantic Gopher defense and keep them away from offensive rebounds, they should come away with a close 68-64 victory. A win would allow them to keep pace for second place in the B10, as Wisconsin host Michigan State on Tuesday.

Etc

  • The University will honor the 1960 National Championship Team at halftime.
  • Turner needs 20 points to pass Lawrence Fundeerburk for 29th on the career scoring charts.
  • Kevin Harlan, Bill Rafftery and Clark Kellogg will work the game.
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