Game Preview: OSU vs. VMI

By Corey Carpenter on November 25, 2007 at 2:25 pm
thad.jpgThad's recent reaction to Buckeye play.
Ohio State BuckeyesOhio State 3-1, 0-0 Big Ten Roster | Schedule 8:00 PM ET ------ St. John Arena Columbus, Ohio VMIVMI 2-2, 0-0 Big South Roster | Schedule

Opponent: Strap up your running shoes, loosen up your neck muscles and say your prayers to Baby Jesus, because VMI is coming to town and they want a track meet with Ohio State. VMI enters this game as the nation's top scoring team, pouring in 102.3 per game. They bring back 4 starters from last year's 14-19 team and 10 players average double digit minutes.

VMI obviously uses an up-tempo style of play, fueling off opponent turnovers and taking advantage of unreal 3 point stats. The Keydets set NCAA marks last year in steals (490), three pointers made and attempted (442/1383) and 3 pointers made per game (13.4), while also leading the country in scoring (100.9) and assists (488).

After losing their first two game at the Air Force Classic, VMI has rebounded with back-to-back wins on their home court, putting up 135 points against West Virginia Wesleyan and 90 against James Madison. VMI has already attempted 136 three pointers in four games this season, making 39 of them, good for 25 percent.

Key Players: VMI is lead by the nation's second leading scorer, Reggie Williams (#55 6'6" Sr.). Reggie lead the NCAA in scoring last year at 28.1 points a game and is averaging 27.3 this season. He doesn't seem to be too much of a threat from long distance, hitting only 2-23 this year, but he will take his shots, as he attempted 27 in 20 minutes earlier this season.

Williams is joined by the Holmes twins, a product of their daddy John's movie career. Travis (#23 6'4" Jr.) is the team's second leading scorer at 16 a game, getting 7 points from the line, but only connecting on 3-20 from the arc. He lead the NCAA last year with 3.4 steals per game. Chavis (#3 6'4" Jr.) is the third leading scorer at 13.6 a game, but has also struggled from the floor this year, shooting only 34 percent. He was the nation's 4th leading thief last year with 2.8 a game.

VMI has used a variety of starting line-up this year, but Willie Bell (#2 6'5" Jr.) and Christian Hunter (#22 6'2" Fr.) also average in double figures. Bell is giving VMI 11.6 points and 6 rebounds a game. He will not shoot from 3land, but will be a menace on the offensive glass, averaging over 4 a game. Hunter (10.8/game) is a threeball specialist, who leads VMI in threes made and attempted (10-31). He has taken only 9 shots from inside the arc thus far, but leads the team with 5 assists per game.

As mentioned, VMI could bring as many as 7 players off the bench, with Austin Kenon (#10 5'11" Fr.), Hunter Houston (#34 6'6" Fr.) and Adam Lonon (#1 5'11" Fr.) seeing the most significant time.

Notes: VMI reached the Big South Conference title game last year, falling to Winthrop 84-81... VMI is located in Lexington, VA. and has the 3rd smallest D1 enrollment at 1,250... VMI is coached by Duggar Baucom, who is in his third season.

Buckeye Breakdown: Ohio State is coming off a spanking at the hands of Texas A&M and Thad will have his boys looking for a bounce back victory tonight, before mighty UNC rolls in Wednesday.

Ohio State is playing their lone game in St. John Arena this year and Thad knew exactly what he was getting by scheduling this game after the NIT Tip-Off. Remember last years North Carolina's game? VMI doesn't have the horses North Carolina does, but they play with the same frantic pace and Ohio State will be more prepared for Wednesday's tilt.

I am not going to mention much about the lost to Texas A&M, those games can happen with young teams, but it will be interesting to see how the Buckeyes try and control this game. The only saving grace from Friday was Ohio State's 5 turnovers and the continued steady play of Jamar Butler. Ohio State will need to protect the ball again tonight and they should be able to control the paint. The Buckeyes have to improve upon their 44 percent FG shooting and negative rebounding margin (-2.7) and they will have plenty of opportunity tonight.

Key Players: The only two players that should get mention here are Jamar Butler and Kosta Koufos, but Ohio State desperately needs David Lighty, Jon Diebler and Othello Hunter to get going.

Koufos continues to lead the Buckeyes with 17.8 per game and Butler follows closely with 16.5 points and leads Ohio State with 5 assists per game. Lighty started hot, averaging 17 in his first two games, but scored only 6 points in the trip to New York and was a no-show against Texas A&M. Diebler has been even more miserable, shooting 3-27 from the floor and 2-20 from downtown. Hunter still leads the Buckeyes in rebounding at 8 a game and scores 10, but he has to improve upon his 1-9 outing last game.

VMI could be exactly what this struggling team needs, as there will be plenty of shots to go around. Ohio State put up 73 shots and 107 points against VMI last year. With the frantic pace expected tonight, Thad may give more minutes to his reserves hoping someone can step up and give him scoring options.

Notes: Jamar Butler has tied the all-time Buckeye mark with 153 three pointers... Ohio State is 427-151 at St. John Arena... Jamar Butler and Kosta Koufos were named to the NIT Season Tip-Off Tournament team.