Preview: #21 Minnesota at #2 Ohio State

By Joe Beale on January 9, 2011 at 6:00a
53 Comments

Sampson is a chip off the old block.
Ohio State Buckeyes #2 Ohio State 15-0, 2-0 Big Ten Roster | Schedule 2:00 PM ET - BTN —— The Schott Columbus, OH Minnesota Golden Gophers #21 Minnesota 12-3, 1-2 Big Ten Roster | Schedule

Fresh off their closest game of the season in a road win at Iowa, the Ohio State Buckeyes get the home portion of their Big Ten schedule started as Tubby Smith brings his Minnesota Golden Gophers to town. The Gophers broke a two-game losing streak with a 67-63 victory Tuesday night at home against Indiana. Like Ohio State, Minnesota trailed at halftime before pulling away in the 2nd half. Unlike OSU, the Gophers shot poorly against the Hoosiers and that does not bode well coming into Value City Arena to face one of the Big Ten's better defensive teams. 

Ohio State leads the all-time series 76-55 including a 47-18 record at home. Last season the two teams split their regular season games, with Minnesota taking the first meeting 73-62 in Minneapolis January 9th before OSU returned the favor with an 85-63 spanking in Columbus on February 6th. It didn't get much better for the Gophers when they faced OSU in the Big Ten Tournament final, as the Buckeyes prevailed 90-61. 

Minnesota is shooting barely above 40% in Big Ten play, while holding their opponents to a similar percentage. This game will likely be the polar opposite of the Indiana game, where OSU and IU lit up the scoreboard with points. Minnesota is a team with a lot of height and length and they really get after it on the defensive end. Ohio State will have to match their defensive intensity and grab more than their usual share of rebounds in order to fight off the Gophers. OSU is 81st in the country in rebounding, averaging only 37.8 caroms per game. On the other hand, Minnesota is 17th, averaging almost 41 per game.

# Name PTS REB ASST POS # Name PTS REB ASST
44 William Buford 13.6 4.3 3.6 G 0 Al Nolen 8.1 3.5 3.5
33 Jon Diebler 12.5 1.9 2.6 G 24 Blake Hoffarber 13.8 3.3 4.5
23 David Lighty 12.7 4.1 3.8 F 33 Rodney Williams 6.5 3.5 1.4
0 Jared Sullinger 18.1 10.2 1.2 F 32 Trevor Mbakwe 13.2 10.3 0.7
52 Dallas Lauderdale 5.3 5.1 0.2 C 50 Ralph Sampson III 10.9 5.7 1.3

Opponent

The Golden Gophers started the season on a hot streak, winning 11 of 12 games despite the 6-game suspension of longtime starting guard Devoe Joseph. Joseph returned from his suspension by scoring 16 points against Virginia in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge, but it was not enough as the Cavaliers pulled away for an 87-79 victory, handing the Gophers their first loss of the season. After that, Minnesota rebounded by winning 5 straight games before starting the Big Ten season. However, the wheels came off in losses to Wisconsin and Michigan State and the team was hardly impressive in beating Indiana on Tuesday. Joseph has since decided to transfer, and coach Tubby Smith has granted him his release. His 11.2 points per game were sorely missed against IU, and they will be missed today against OSU.

Minnesota's balanced scoring is led by senior guard Blake Hoffarber, a well-known Buckeye killer who hit for 27 points in the win over OSU last season. Hoffarber is shooting over 40% from beyond the arc and he must be defended closely if the Buckeyes are to prevail today. Inside, the Gophers look to 6'11" center Ralph Sampson III, son of former Virginia superstar Ralph Sampson (who once scored 40 points against Ohio State). Power forward Trevor Mbakwe is also a threat on the inside as he is coming off a game in which he scored 11 points and snagged 16 rebounds to lead his team to a win over Indiana. Sampson and Mbakwe can make things very difficult on the inside when other teams are trying to shoot. Sampson averages over 2 blocked shots per game and Mbakwe averages 1.5.  Mbakwe had 5 blocks against IU, which was a career high. If Ohio State wants to get points in the paint today, they will have to earn them. 

Buckeye Breakdown:

Ohio State encountered something rare on Tuesday night: an opponent that stayed with them for 40 minutes. Iowa used a combination of ferocious defense and clutch 3-point shooting to whittle down a 58-45 OSU lead to the point where it stood at 71-68 with less than a minute remaining. But Aaron Craft made a pair of free throws and then the defense held Iowa scoreless on their last two possessions to seal the win. The Buckeyes actually trailed at halftime before going on a 16-0 run to turn the game around. Coach Matta has been critical of his team's defense recently, especially allowing Indiana to shoot over 50%. The effort on Tuesday was much better at that end of the floor, but there were still stretches where it seemed to let up a bit. The close game will serve the team well, as they seemed a bit out of practice in the area of handling the ball under extreme pressure.

Jared Sullinger has continued his excellent production in Big Ten play, hitting for 19 and 24 points against Indiana and Iowa respectively. He will likely find it tougher going against the tall Minnesota defenders, and he will also be challenged by trying to defend Mbakwe and Sampson. Ohio State has shown balance throughout the season, as well as an unselfish attitude as demonstrated by their 1.66 Assists/Turnovers ratio. The ball movement against Iowa was excellent, which allowed them to still shoot over 55% despite the Hawkeyes' outstanding effort on defense. The inside-outside combination will most likely be too much for Minnesota, despite their length. The Gophers are a well coached team but they do not have the ability to score with Ohio State. Look for the Buckeyes to pull away in the end for a solid win.

Etc

  • The win against Iowa means that Ohio State has opened the Big Ten season with back-to-back road victories for the first time in school history.
  • David Lighty needs 10 rebounds to join Evan Turner and Jim Jackson as the only players with at least 1,000 points, 500 rebounds and 300 assists in school history.
  • Tubby Smith's real first name is Orlando, but Smith says that the last person to call him by that name was a 10th grade teacher who did not tolerate nicknames.
53 Comments

Comments

Buckeye_Mafia's picture

Besides Conley, Jr. , Penn, and Redd, David Lighty is one of my favorite tOSU basketball players of all time. Should make it to league w/a productive senior campaign.

Adolphus Washington is half grizzly bear and half dragon | Noah Spence kills quarterbacks, just to watch them die.

Chris Lauderback's picture

Good to have the students back. Their new section is packed.

Is it Saturday Yet's picture

Are they still sitting behind the benches? I thought they were moved up during B1G play?

Chris Lauderback's picture

Yeah...they are behind both benches (well it stops directly behind the opponent bench)and also the hoop nearest the Minny bench. Behind the hoop nearest the OSU bench is regular fan seating and press seating in the corner.

Chris Lauderback's picture

Ummm...I think Brutus is rocking Zubaz today.

Chris Lauderback's picture

Sad they can't sell this place out for the home conference opener against a good team.

Powers's picture

NFL really does rule all-everything i guess

tomcollins's picture

It is a pretty damn huge arena.

Chris Lauderback's picture

Fair point. There's about 17k in here.

Is it Saturday Yet's picture

I think they only have single seats available now. I can't fork out 200 a seat for a decent seat for every game. I will for a few games....

Chris Lauderback's picture

Wondering how much time Craft will see. Sully/Dallas already with 1 foul apiece at 15:56 but Thad might need to keep size on the floor.

Chris Lauderback's picture

I'm not sure I've ever heard this place so loud after the 2 shot clock vio's

Powers's picture

agreed. this student section change is a huge upgrade

tomcollins's picture

This team just hangs around for a while then wits to go on a huge run.  It's so anti-climatic, you just know they are going to dominate everyone.  Can't wait for Purdue and Wisconsin.

Matt's picture

Next time we predict domination, you go last.

Jason Priestas's picture

ENEMY HAS ALPHA!

Matt's picture

Bravo secured

Jason Priestas's picture

What platform do you play on?

Matt's picture

TRICK QUESTION I OBVIOUSLY PLAY ON PS3 AS XBOX360 IS FOR N00BS

Jason Priestas's picture

I can see your lack of patriotism shines through in your choice of console, sir. Anyway, Luke, Spencer from EDSBS, myself and others play frequently on the 360, so if you decide to represent the U-S-A!!! let us know.

Buckeyebrowny919's picture

HUGE en U tees.....

 

^xbox360..hiiiiit me up

To give anything less than your best, is to sacrifice the gift - Steve Prefontaine

Joe Beale's picture

Safe to say that Lighty came to play today.  He wants to get the record emphatically.

Chris Lauderback's picture

agreed. beyond his offense, he's played some sick D on Mbakwe.

TLB's picture

Crowd noise not really coming thru on TV

Chris Lauderback's picture

it's definitely been loud. i'm not easily impressed by the crowd and they are doing their part today.

TLB's picture

Lighty on FIRE!

They packed it in to keep Sully from dominating and Lighty welcomes the challenge.

Chris Lauderback's picture

Yeah..minny so concerned about Sully...this 12-2 run has been 4 triples...craft, diebs, lighty, lighty...word.

TLB's picture

In other news........bring on those cheesley Ravens.

TLB's picture

That was a foul in a closer game.

Chris Lauderback's picture

or in a game with good refs...lots of body

TLB's picture

Doing their part in keeping it close.

Bobcat04's picture

This is probably the worst officiating I've ever seen in my life.  

TLB's picture

Haha.  Just typical Big 10 awful officiating.

Joe Beale's picture

I was going to say "just keep watching Big Ten games and you'll see worse". 

Buckeye_Mafia's picture

The Big Ten hires its refs and officials from www.shittyofficiating.org.

Adolphus Washington is half grizzly bear and half dragon | Noah Spence kills quarterbacks, just to watch them die.

Bobcat04's picture

Even if we ESCAPE from what was an 18-point lead with a win, this team is not the #2 in the country.  They will need to do some serious improving during the B10 season.  Especially on defense.  Every time Minny has needed to put together a run, they've been able to do it.  And with Devoe Joseph not on the team.  VERY troubling game...

tomcollins's picture

Yeah, the #2 team should never win by less than 10 points.

TLB's picture

I think the awful officiating, slowing down the game has worked to the advantage of Minny and will do so for most teams we play in the Big 10.

Bobcat04's picture

How in the hell did Minny lose the games they did to MSU and Wisky?  How the hell did they almost get beat by Indiana AT HOME?

Joe Beale's picture

Don't underestimate the motivation they have after getting their butts kicked so badly by us in the B10 tourney last year.

Joe Beale's picture

Tubby's trying to play the free throw game now.  

Bobcat04's picture

tOSU:  Where Minnesota looks like Duke.

TLB's picture

Uh, they shoved Dallas out of bounds

Jason Priestas's picture

Eh, it's Big Ten play. These teams have scouting reports that are solid and they're typically very familiar with the opponent. We're going to have some wars, but games like this build character.

Joe Beale's picture

It's probably doing wonders for BTN's ratings.

Bobcat04's picture

I didn't think we'd go undefeated, it just is troubling that we led by 18 with around 10 minutes to go, and didn't put it away.  That's as poor as it gets.

Joe Beale's picture

Rebounding is the weakness of this team, as it seems to be every season. 

TLB's picture

DDDDDDD iebler

luckynewman13's picture

good win...a little too close at the end...but a good win.

Bobcat04's picture

Diebler and the WB need to step up way more in games like this.  They each hit a couple, but were nonexistent down the stretch.  

Austin's picture

Glad to get out of this game with a win!

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