|Ohio State 11-4, 1-2 Big Ten Roster | Schedule||January 9, 2009 3:30 PM ET - BTN —— Williams Aren Minneapolis, MN||Minnesota 11-4, 2-1 Big Ten Roster | Schedule|
On the road again, just can't wait to get on the road again. For the third time in their first four games, the Buckeyes travel to frosty Minnesota, to take on Tubby's squad in one of the hardest venues historically for Ohio State.
The Buckeye are looking to bring their conference mark up to the .500 level and move into the upper tier of B10 hoopsters, where they rightfully belong after the return of The Villian.
The following preview is not copied and pasted from last year, as both teams virtually bring back their entire rosters. Tubby is still fond of rotating about 10 dudes into the game, while Thad will probably use a very short bench today.
|21||Evan Turner||17.3||10.6||5.8||G||20||Lawrence Westbrook||13.5||2.5||1.8|
|33||Jon Diebler||14.6||3.0||1.9||G||0||Al Nolan||6.3||2.9||4.8|
|44||William Buford||13.1||4.8||3.3||F||24||Blake Hoffarber||11.3||3.5||1.7|
|23||David Lighty||13.5||5.5||3.0||F||34||Damien Johnson||10.7||3.9||2.4|
|52||Dallas Lauderdale||7.6||5.1||0.4||C||45||Colton Iverson||5.1||5.7||0.7|
Minnesota is the second highest scoring team in the Big Ten, at 79.3 points per game, shooting 47.7% overall from the floor and 38.0% from deep. As expected, the Gophers will bring pressure the entire game, which has lead to a conference best 11.2 steals a contest. In fact, the Gophers rank near the top in most conference statistics, including blocks (6.47), assists (17.93) and A/TO ratio (17.9/12.7).
As mentioned, Tubby subs a ton, playing no one more than 25 minutes per game thus far this season, but they might be without Ralph Sampson III for a third straight game. Without Sampson, only 1 regular measures above 6'8". The Gophers are looking to rebound after their 79-60 loss at Purdue on Tuesday, a game in which their 3 guards combined to score 20 points on 5 of 23 shooting, to go along with just 3 assists and 7 TO's.
The Gophers will be lead by Paul Carter, Devoe Joseph and freshman Rodney Williams off the bench. The trio combines to score just over 24 PPG, while snagging 8 boards and dishing out 6 assists.
This game was viewed as a loss just a week ago, but with the return of Turner, the Buckeyes have a chance to steal one on the road. Turner played 20 minutes in his return and didn't reach his normal numbers, but the confidence he seemed to install in everyone else was great to see. Diebler was the prime example, connecting on 5 of 8 from behind the arc, the first time he shot better than 50% from deep since Turner got hurt.
The Buckeyes shooting has dipped to 49.8 percent, which sits behind Michigan State for the conference lead. OSU is now scoring 77.7 points per game, which has dropped them to 5th in the conference, but they still sit third in scoring defense at 60.2 points. However, it should come at no surprise the Buckeyes rank last in FT percentage at 66.5.
Ohio State shouldn't have too much trouble breaking any full court pressure the Gophers will bring today, as long as they remember to inbound the ball. Hopefully the return of Turner will squash that recent problem. Besides taking care of the rock, OSU will need to take advantage of the potential absence of Sampson and drive the lane, getting Iverson in early foul trouble. It might not be a bad idea to feed the ball inside to Lauderdale and tell him to make a couple of pump fakes.
Turner should help end the scoring droughts that have hurt the Buckeyes in their first 2 conference road games. If that holds true and Turner can go for about 30 minutes, Diebler gets open looks again and Buford shoots well, I like OSU's chances. But the Bucks have fizzled on the road recently and the Old Barn is a difficult place to play, so I think there's a chance the Bucks fall a little short in this one 69-71.
- Diebler has 197 career 3-pointers. Butler leads all-time with 242.
- Turner was one of 30 players named to the Wooden watch list.