Preview: #4 Ohio State at #2 Duke

By Kyle Rowland on November 28, 2012 at 11:00a
Duke's Cameron Crazies are notoriously hostileShould be fun.
Ohio State Buckeyes #4 Ohio State 4-0, 0-0 Big Ten Roster | Schedule 9:30 PM ET - ESPN —— Cameron Indoor Stadium Durham, NC Duke Blue Devils #2 Duke 6-0, 0-0 ACC Roster | Schedule

As far as basketball venues go, they don’t get much more historic than Duke’s Cameron Indoor Stadium. Built in 1940, the 9,314-seat arena is one of the biggest homecourt/field advantages in all of sports.

Duke has won 84 percent of its games at Cameron and 88 percent since Mike Krzyzewski was hired before the 1980 season. The Blue Devils have currently won 96 consecutive home non-conference games – 9,000 straight as Ohio State head coach Thad Matta said. The streak, which Ohio State will attempt to break, dates to February 2000.

One player on Ohio State’s roster that does have a victory in Cameron is senior forward Evan Ravenel. The Boston College transfer was victorious along with his Eagles teammates against the Greg Paulus-led Blue Devils.

“I bring it up all the time,” Ravenel said. “I bring it up almost daily.”

Paulus, now one of Ravenel’s coaches, has turned into a valuable resource for Matta. He detailed where all the dead spots are in the old gym.

“He’s got it all mapped out,” said a laughing Matta. “There’s a big chart with pins stuck in it.”

Playing in hostile environments is nothing new for the Buckeyes. They played at Florida two years ago and Kansas last season. Instead of being intimidated, though, Ohio State’s players have embraced it.

Junior point guard Aaron Craft said opposing fans have chanted his girlfriend’s name and sung Miley Cyrus’ “Party in the USA” when former teammate Jared Sullinger was shooting free throws. That’s because Craft and Sullinger did a karaoke sketch for the Value City Arena scoreboard that soon after went viral due to the awful vocals.

At the end of the day, Craft said the taunting is all in good fun.

“The road games help us the most toward the end of the season,” junior guard Lenzelle Smith Jr. said. “We’ve heard about the Cameron Crazies. I’m excited.”

The Crazies aren’t likely to forget last season’s affair, which ended with Ohio State winning, 85-63. Ohio State scored the first 11 points of the game, in front of LeBron James and Dwyane Wade, and led by as many as 25.

“It was a defining moment for our team,” Smith said, who added it was the best game he’s been a part of at Ohio State.

If the Buckeyes get a win tonight, there may be a new No. 1 on that list.

4 A. Craft JR 6-2/195 14.3 2.5 5.3 G 2 Q. Cook SO 6-1/175 10.7 3.2 5.5
32 L. Smith Jr. JR 6-4/210 11.5 5.3 1.8 G 30 S. Curry SR 6-2/185 17.0 2.3 0.8
12 S. Thompson SO 6-7/200 5.8 4.3 1.8 F 14 R. Sulaimon FR 6-4/185 12.0 4.3 2.0
1 D. Thomas JR 6-7/215 24.0 7.3 1.5 F 34 R. Kelly SR 6-11/230 11.8 5.2 2.3
30 E. Ravenel SR 6-8/250 5.5 4.0 0.5 F 5 M. Plumlee SR 6-10/235 19.7 10.0 1.7


In a few short weeks, Duke has shot up the college basketball rankings, from No. 8 in the preseason to second. In this week’s poll, the Blue Devils are one spot behind Indiana and managed to garner first-place votes.

Duke is coming off an impressive showing at the Battle 4 Atlantis in the Bahamas, winning the tournament title and knocking off previous No. 2 Louisville. Already this season, Duke has defeated two top-five teams at neutral sites – Kentucky at the Georgia Dome being the other. The Blue Devils get a crack at their third when the fourth-ranked Buckeyes enter Cameron Indoor Stadium.

“To me it’s easy to get up for these games,” Duke senior forward Mason Plumlee said. “And I think that this is a team that loves these kind of games, judging by how we’ve played so far this season.”

Prior to the season, Duke was highly thought of, but the fast start was not entirely expected. With the three triangle schools – Duke, North Carolina and North Carolina State – each ranked in the top 10 to start the season, the Blue Devils have quickly distinguished themselves.

In short, that is why Duke, not top-ranked Indiana, is off to the most impressive start of the season. Along with wins over the Kentucky schools, Duke owns victories over Minnesota and VCU. The Blue Devils have played the sixth-toughest schedule in the country.

“This has been a good team thus far,” Krzyzewski said. “In fact, a very good team. We’ve ended up playing the toughest schedule in the country. The competition has helped us improve but also learn more about one another.”

They’ve done it with a combination of experience and youth.

Duke starts three seniors, a sophomore and a freshman. It is the senior Plumlee who has done most of the damage in the first six games, averaging nearly 20 points and 10 rebounds per game.  Sharp-shooting senior Seth Curry is scoring 17 points per game, while underclassmen Quinn Cook, a sophomore, and Rasheed Sulaimon, a freshman, are putting up a combined 23 points, 7.5 rebounds and 7.5 assists per game. 

The Blue Devils’ starters all average more than 30 minutes per game, and only one reserve plays more than 10 minutes per game. That could catch up with Duke tonight, as they’re attempting to get fresh legs after playing three high-level games in three days in the Bahamas.

But like Matta’s teams that had short benches, Duke has cohesion. The three starting seniors know each other's every move and Cook, whom Ohio State passed over for Shannon Scott, has developed into one of the best point guards in college basketball.

Cook was the tournament MVP in the Bahamas, helping to silence critics, Coach K among them, that felt he couldn’t be the offensive facilitator after a forgettable freshman season for the Blue Devils.

“The main thing with Quinn is that he hasn't shown any weakness,” Krzyzewski said. “He has a great face, a great demeanor. A leader has to look strong before he is strong. He has to look like a winner and act like a winner before he is a winner.”

The names on the front of the jersey have been impressive, but Cook and Duke have not faced a defender quite the caliber of Aaron Craft.

“(Craft) is definitely a great defensive player,” Duke junior guard Tyler Thornton said. “He puts on a lot of ball pressure and plays passing lanes very well. He controls his team very well.”

If Cook dices up arguably the best on-ball defender in the country, Duke fans might want to invest in a return trip to Atlanta.

Buckeye Breakdown

A year ago, Austin Rivers, the son of Boston Celtics coach Doc, was the shooter Ohio State had to keep its attention on all game. This season Seth Curry, the son of former NBA star Dell and brother of Golden State guard Stephen, will garner the attention.

Rivers got his points against the Buckeyes last season – 22 – but the lopsided score makes that total easy to forget. Curry is a similarly gifted shooter and slasher. He’s averaging 17 points and is capable of scoring points in bunches.

“He can shoot the ball really well,” Smith said. “I’m definitely going to have to try to take that away from him. From the film I’ve seen, he puts the ball on the floor well. It’s definitely going to be different than guarding Austin Rivers last year.”

It was all Craft and the Buckeyes last season versus Duke.

Last season Curry averaged 13 points a game, yielding shots to Rivers. Instead of changing the offense around, Curry has just assumed Rivers’ old role. With more opportunities to score, Curry’s numbers have risen in nearly every category. He is shooting considerably better from the field, behind the arc and at the free throw line.

There is also a threat down low, which gives Duke its dangerous offense even more freedom. Mason Plumlee has leapt to the top of early national player of the year lists by averaging a double-double through the Blue Devils’ first six games. And it’s the top-tier opponents where he’s done the most damage.

Plumlee missed one shot against Kentucky, scoring 18 points. He had 20 points and 17 rebounds versus Minnesota, 17 and 10 versus VCU and 16 and 7 versus Louisville.

“You try to get a read on his tendencies, and he’s just so big and athletic,” Matta said. “He scores a plethora of ways.

“It’s hard to say, ‘OK, he’s going to do this when he catches it.’ He’s really, really good.”

Plumlee finished with 16 points and eight rebounds against Ohio State last season, and that was against Sullinger. This year he gets to go up against Ravenel and Amir Williams, who are still finding their niche on defense.

It could be a long night for the Buckeyes, but one way or another, Matta will find out a great deal about his team from 9:30 to 11:30 p.m. There will be good and bad, but as the season progresses, he can point to Durham and the lessons that were learned.

“You go into the game and you're saying, ‘Hey, at the conclusion of this game, you’re going to know a lot more about your team,’” Matta said. “Road environment, it’s going to be hostile, you’re playing a great basketball team. From that perspective, as much as you want to look at (tonight), you're thinking long term as well.”


  • Ohio State is 6-5 all-time in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge. But the Buckeyes have won their past four. They are the only Big Ten team with a winning record in the Challenge.
  • Duke previously beat Ohio State in the Challenge, 91-76, in 2002 at the Greensboro Coliseum. 
  • The Buckeyes are 3-3 versus the Blue Devils but have never played in Cameron Indoor Stadium. Ohio State is 2-2 in neutral site games and 1-1 in Columbus.
  • Ohio State leads the country in three-point field goal percentage (32-67, 48 percent).
  • Brent Musburger and Jay Bilas have the call.

Comments Show All Comments

highwire's picture

Living in NC at the moment, and with my experiences here, all l have to say is f*ck's Tank time.


Just as long as I don't see one of the Dookie grad students wearing nothing but a banana hammock stand up during an OSU free throw and do some weird rhythmic dance to try to distract us during a close game late. That would be too much to see.

"Sherman ran an option play right through the south" - Greatest Civil War analogy EVER.

Triv's picture

If any of our bigs are on the free throw line they could sit quietly and we will still miss is. They really need to work on free throws

Sorry Urban, Woody is still my favorite

nickma71's picture

Beating Duke is like beating the NY Yankees in the post season. Unless you are talking about a revenue sport.

bhartman13's picture

I am fricken pumped for this game tonight!!  It will be a major test for the Buckeyes considering the talent on Duke's roster and the Cameron Crazies only make them a tougher opponent.  I knew Duke was great at home but damn 96 straight non conference wins is quite impressive.  The Buckeyes have looked very good thus far but a road game like this will give us a much better idea how good they can be.
To me the talent level is pretty even but tOSU may have a tad more depth considering Coach K is not using his bench much.  Deshaun will need 20+, Craft will need to be great on both ends of the floor, and the bigs will have to box out and keep Plumlee off the boards because he has been a beast this year.  Ravenel and Amir better bring toughness tonight!  I have a feeling Thompson or Ross will step up with a good night and the Buckeyes are going to crack that win streak and shut the Crazies up!  Buckeyes 77-74

BuckeyeUro's picture

So guys, what your expectations for this one?? Duke seniors are putting good shows and I think it's tough to beat them at Cameron Stadium.
It would be nice to hear your thoughts.

highwire's picture

Tough, tight game against a very talented team. Deshaun Thomas will be the most gifted player on the court, we'll see if that's enough.

M tots's picture

I really like our matchups on the perimeter with defenders like Craft, Smith, and Thompson. Probably the best perimeter defending trio in the country. They're going to have to stay out of foul trouble.
The key is going to be containing Kelly and Plumlee on the inside. It'll be the determining factor in this game.

Squirrel Master's picture

Love the sarcasm font M Man! upvote!

I saw a UFO told me to have a goodyear!

M Man's picture

I'm rooting for all the Big Ten teams...  even Sparty.

LadyBuck's picture

That must be crushing your soul.

yrro's picture

I think it's going to be a close game, but homefield advantage, the harder schedule, and Plumlee on the block gives this one to the Dookies. Will be incredibly excited if I'm wrong, though.

William's picture

Craft has an advantage over Cook, both offensively and defensively. Nothing else needs to be said here really. Edge: OSU
Smith Jr. is bigger, faster, and a better defender than Curry, and he's shooting 62% from 3. Curry is shooting well, but I look for Smith Jr. to contain him. Edge: OSU
Thompson will be up against Sulaimon who has a tendency to be a chucker. Thompson is the better defender, but Sulaimon is far better offensively. Edge: Toss-up.
Thomas is far better offensively than Kelly, and while Kelly has 4 inches on Thomas, he's been laying bricks from three so far this year (24%), and he dives like crazy. Edge: OSU
Plumlee is a much better big man than any player we have on this team, hands down. He will get his tonight. The only shot OSU has here is to get Plumlee to foul out, which he has already done this season. Edge: Duke
On a neutral court we win handily, at Cameron Indoor, the most we win by is 2-4 points. 

Squirrel Master's picture

William, a key thing tonight might be to get a switch to get Plumlee on Thomas. Thomas could get him into foul trouble if he stays aggressive. Although there is that flop issue!
I agree with you on all points but really I think it will come down to Plumlee and Sulaimon playing the way they are playing. If that continues, despite what Craft and Thomas will do, it will be hard to beat Duke in their house. A great game by one player could easily beat out the individual head to head advantage.
One thing is for sure, They still underestimate Craft. Never underestimate the cheese wiz!

I saw a UFO told me to have a goodyear!

William's picture

What I could see Matta doing is trying to get Williams/Ravenel going on the inside just to put Plumlee in foul trouble. I'm really not worried about Kelly at all. If Marshall Plumlee were healthy I don't think OSU would stand a chance. Sulaimon is shooting 38% on the year, he's a Costanza, a chucker, although he can score in bunches. I think we win at the most by 4 points, although I could see Duke winning by 7-10. People always underestimate Craft, that's nothing new. This OSU team is a lot more athletic than Duke, and plays better defense too. 

bhartman13's picture

Great call William!  The Buckeyes are absolutely much more athletic and play better defense.  The only concern I have is Plumlee dominating the middle on both ends.  Amir really needs to come to play tonight cuz I'm sure Ravenel is fired up and has already been to Cameron.  I wouldn't overlook Kelly because if he is hot tonight that is a tough defensive matchup for Deshaun because it brings him away from the basket and makes it much tougher for him to crash the boards.  My big thing for tonight is the bench or lack there of for Duke.  We all know Matta usually has a short bench and doesn't give those guys much playing time but with Amir, Ross, and Scott stepping in and hopefully playing well it could be a key factor.  I like the rotations and fact Matta is trusting these guys to come off the bench and play more meaningful minutes early on this year.

William's picture

Kelly to me is in a slump right now. He's playing more minutes, shooting more, and is averaging the same amount of points he averaged last season. His blocks and assists are up, but his 3 point shooting is down by 17% points and his free throw shooting is down by 12% points. 

bhartman13's picture

I know Kelly is in a slump but he is a shooter and on any given night can get rolling so all I am saying is don't sleep on him considering Deshaun should be matched up with him most of the game.  I hope he stays cold but if he starts knocking down outside shots that makes the odds of tOSU winning this game much lower.  Tank needs to play good defense and play smart on offense by not forcing too much.  9:30 cannot get here fast enough!

Jack Fu's picture

This early in the season, who the hell knows. I would feel a lot better about making any kind of prediction if OSU had actually played their Marquette game, but hey, what are you gonna do. The combination of the gauntlet Duke successfully ran in their tournament plus the home-court non-con winning streak makes it seem like this will be too tall a task for the Bucks. But hey, stranger things have happened.

Squirrel Master's picture

I see this game as on par for both sides. So really it comes down to location and sadly to say, Cameron is a tough place to play. I think Craft will be a difference maker and show Duke what's what, but I am not overly confident on the other guys to go into a place like that and play the way they have been. Thomas will be key.
Going with Buckeyes 72-68 but wouldn't surprise me if they lost.

I saw a UFO told me to have a goodyear!

btalbert25's picture

I will say, though, that Duke's slate, while it looks impressive does have a couple of asterisks in my mind.  UK looked like a much better win than it was.  UK at this point is just not a top 5 team so it was no shock Duke won that game.  Louisville was missing perhaps their best defensive presence on the team in Dieng.  Van Treese is not Dieng down low.  So those 2 big wins look impressive, but perhaps not as good as the voters and media have made them out to be.
I worry about tonight's game though.  I just don't see us making it out of this one with a win.  It's Duke, at home, against a Buckeye team that I'm not convinced is really top 5 caliber at this point in time(they definitely could be when all is said and done), and they'll be pissed about getting the worst beatdown I've ever seen Duke get when they faced the Buckeyes last year.  Obviously, I'm hoping for a win but if I were betting the game, I'd take Duke, even with the 6 or 6 1/2 they are giving up.

RBuck's picture

I think Craft and Smith can pretty much limit Cook and Curry. It's Duke's bigs that worry me.

Long live the southend.

kr66osu's picture

I'm really excited for this game even though we're probably going to lose
I didn't realize we've never played at Duke before

Matt's picture

Tank has to play lights out in first half, hit everything he chucks up, and open up easy looks for the other players.  We will live and die by his offensive prowess in big games like this all season long.  I think we lose this one, but it will be a good learning experience for the B1G slate.

David Sokol's picture

Buckeyes will need a role player to step up big time tonight! You know Coach K will devise some sort of D to try to stop DT.

I'm thinking Lenzelle will come through and put up about 18 tonight.

William's picture

I could see Smith coming up big. He's been stroking it from deep, and is better defensively than Curry. 

btalbert25's picture

That's what I'm thinking.  Someone other than Craft or Thomas are going to have to come up big.  Preferably once they do, they will continue to do so the rest of the year!  If a 3rd consistent threat can develop, this is a very dangerous Buckeye basketball team.

Grant Edgell's picture

Narrow-minded as it may be, I keep replaying the shooting woes in my head from the OSU v UNC game at Madison Square Garden from '09 (6-for-21 from three-point range). Yes, UNC was much bigger than the Buckeyes and OSU made a late comeback to get within 4 at the final whistle (down 16 with five minutes to play), but we had open looks from start to finish and couldn't throw it in the ocean. I fear tonight the Bucks will face the same, new-environment challenges. Much tougher to dig yourself out of a hole at Cameron Indoor, in my opinion. Last year's spanking at the Schott will have the Crazies going ape sh*t (as if they don't anyway).
Lenzelle sounds like he's looking forward to it - I think Craft will laugh in the face of the crowds' antics - but I'm worried about DeShaun and how he'll perform in that atmosphere, especially early. Just honest.
Duke 84, Ohio State 67
Sincerely, Hoping to Eat Crow

VHX7's picture

I love these OOC matchups we've had lately. The environment in The Shott last year for Duke was amazing. I see Duke winning this by 7-12 points. Hopefully I'm wrong.

btalbert25's picture

I agree, I told a friend earlier that I really believe Duke by 10 on this one.

tennbuckeye19's picture

Obviously I want OSU to win the game, but I am really curious just to see how this team plays against good competition and in a hostile environment. I have no feel for what the outcome may be. 

CLT Silver Bullet's picture

I will be at the game tonight, crossing Cameron Indoor Stadium off of the sports bucket list!  The rational bball fan in me feels like this game matches up well for the Buckeyes except for in the post, but I just have this gut feeling that Duke wins tonight.  Obviously, I hope I am wrong and I think the Craft will have a great game.  I think it all comes down to Thomas coming out of the gate hot, if he struggles it could be a long game.

Alex's picture

Look for me in my Michael Redd jersey sitting with the Cameron Crazies....Kyle will be safe with the media but I hope I make it through the night...especially if we win

LadyBuck's picture

I wish you the best of luck. You are a true maverick.

btalbert25's picture

Did anyone see Coach K's interview the other night after their win with Louisville?  He seemed like he could hardly speak.  Either he is losing it mentally a bit, or the dude was freakin hammered.  I kept thinking WTF is wrong with him?

LadyBuck's picture

I am impressed with Duke, and I hope we'll be able to win. Homeristically, I have a two point win with a last second shot to win (a la last year's MSU game in East Lansing). However, I wouldn't be surprised if Duke wins comfortably.

William's picture

I could see Duke winning comfortably, but I doubt it happens. I'm not as impressed with this Duke team. Their win over Louisville should come with a huge asterisk, and while they beat Kentucky, I don't even see that UK squad as Top 15 this year, they have the same problem as UNC, and that's replacing way too much talent that left. Cook has yet to face a defender like Craft, in fact he hasn't even faced a guy close to Craft's level. Curry can make it rain from three, but again, he's yet to face a defender like Smith Jr., who is taller, bigger and faster than him, and is also somehow shooting the three ball better than him. Sulaimon looked good against Minnesota, but has been a chucker against every other team they've faced, and while Thompson has absolutely no offensive game, he's a good defender as well and I see that match up as a toss up. Kelly has the length on Thomas, but has no mobility, and can't try to chase Thomas around the court all night. Kelly's also in a bit of a slump, as he's playing nearly 6 more minutes a game than he did last year, he's 17% worse from three, 12% worse from the charity stripe, and is scoring the exact same amount of points per game as he did last year, even though he's playing 6 more minutes per game. Plumlee is just going to get his 19 and 10. OSU doesn't really have anyone that can directly go toe to toe with him, so Williams/Ravenel are going to have to step it up tonight and try to limit Plumlee's dominance in the paint. 

kareemabduljacobb's picture

I always check out this site for up to date RPI rankings, plus if you click on a team, it'll show their whole schedule and predicted score... This has us going undefeated this season and beating Duke 73-72 haha.  But I think the prediction of scores changes as the season goes on.

buckeye76BHop's picture

I'm assuming OSU takes an L on this one tonight.  Duke surely remembers that 20 point beatdown last year at the Schott.  I also don't think we win without another player besides DT stepping up as others have mentioned above.  I want a W more than anything...just not sure that's what's going to happen...

"There's nothing that cleanses your soul like getting the hell kicked out of you."

"I love football. I think it is most wonderful game in world and I despise to lose."

Woody Hayes 1913 - 1987