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Dec. 6, 2008

Ohio State (4-0) vs. No. 7 Notre Dame (6-1)
Site:                           Lucas Oil Stadium (37,500)
Game Time:               4:05 p.m. ET
Television:                ESPNU
Talent:                      Jim Barbar (Play by Play)
                                Bob Wenzel (Expert Analysis)
Radio:                      OSU Radio Network (60 stations)
Local Radio:            WBNS FM-97.1 AM-1460
Radio Talent:           Paul Keels (P-by-P)
                               Ron Stokes (Expert Analysis)

Ranked foes on Tap for Buckeyes
 No. 21 Miami (W, 73-68/Dec. 2) and No. 7 Notre Dame are on tap for the Buckeyes this week. The Hurricanes played host to Ohio State Tuesday in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge while the Fighting Irish and Buckeyes meet on a neutral court Saturday in Indianapolis. Ohio State is 124-208 all time vs. ranked opponents. The Buckeyes have won three of its last four outings vs. ranked opponents, including back-to-back home wins last March vs. No. 15 Purdue (80-77 in overtime, 3/4) and No. 17 Michigan State (63-54, 3/9). Ohio State is looking for its second-consecutive win vs. a ranked opponent away from Columbus since wins over No. 5 Memphis (92-76) in San Antonio, Texas, and No. 9 Georgetown (67-60) in Atlanta during the 2007 NCAA Tournament.

Buckeyes in the Big Ten, NCAA
 Sophomore Dallas Lauderdale leads the Big Ten with 4.5 blocks a game. Marcus Landry of Wisconsin is No. 2 with 2.4 a contest (17 in 7 games). Lauderdale’s total of 18 (in 4 games) tops his total of 15 rejections recorded as a freshman. Evan Turner leads the league in steals with 3.25 a game (13) and is No. 2 in defensive rebounds (6.25 drpg.) with 25 to date. Ohio State leads the league in scoring defense (47.2 ppg.), field goal percentage defense (71-209/.340), 3-point field goal percentage defense (20-78/.256), blocked shots (8.25) and scoring margin (+18.5). Ohio State is No. 2 in steals (9.25). Nationally (as of Dec. 1), Ohio State ranks No. 1 in scoring defense (40.3 ppg.), No. 5 in scoring margin (+23.0), No. 2 in FG Pct. Def. (32 pct.), No. 4 in blocked shots (8.7 bpg.), and No. 1 in fouls per game (11.7). Lauderdale is No. 2 in blocked shots (5.3 bpg.).

Noting the Buckeyes…
Sophomore Jon Diebler reached 50 career 3-pointers made (61-194) with three made vs. Delaware State Nov. 20 … he is connecting on 46.4 percent of his treys (13-28) this season, up from 28.9 percent (48-166) as a freshman … he set a career mark with six made 3s in the win vs. Miami, Fla. (Dec. 2) … Diebler has played in 41 games to date with 12 starts … he needs four rebounds to reach 100 for his career and his scoring average is up from 5.9 ppg. as a freshman to 12.8 ppg. this season.

Sophomore Dallas Lauderdale made his first career start vs. Delaware State (Nov. 20) … he has rejected 18 shots this season in four games after blocking 15 in 32 games as a freshman … Lauderdale is the first Buckeye to reach seven blocks (vs. DSU) in a game since Greg Oden swatted seven Michigan attempts at Value City Arena in 2007 … Lauderdale is shooting 65 percent from the field (13-20) and is a career 61 percent shooter (25-41) … he leads the conference in blocked shots per game and is No. 2 nationally (as of 12/1).  David Lighty started his 41st-consecutive game in the win vs. No. 21 Miami, Fla. (Dec. 2) … Lighty reached 500 points for his career (507) with 11 at Miami–in 80 games he has averaged 6.3 points a game. 

Junior Kyle Madsen appeared in his 15th game as a Buckeye in the most recent outing at Miami … he logged 12 minutes of court time, and grabbed a career-best six rebounds vs. Samford.  Sophomore Evan Turner has been a consistent contributor so far this season … against Samford, Turner recorded his third career double-double with a game-high 16 points and a career-best 13 rebounds … he also had a career-high five steals and added four assists in the Samford game … against Miami, Turner scored 19 points, all in the second half, to help rally the Buckeyes to a 73-68 win … Turner reached 100 career assists (110) in the win vs. DSU with three.

Freshman William Buford’s debut was effective with 13 points on 5 of 10 shooting from the field in 22 minutes, he also added a 3-pointer and a couple assists vs. DSU … he was credited with three steals in the win vs. Bowling Green.

Junior transfer Jeremie Simmons was one of three Buckeyes in double figures with 10 points in the season opener vs. Delaware State … Simmons knocked down 3 of 6 3-point attempts and 1 of 2 foul shots … he has eight made 3s on the year, including the go-ahead trey in the road win vs. No. 21 Miami Dec. 2.

Center B.J. Mullens spent most his freshman debut vs. DSU at the foul line knocking down 5 of 6 charity tosses … against Samford, he contributed eight points in 18 minutes to go with two steals.

Rookie point guard Anthony Crater played 17 minutes in his debut and recorded one assist and a steal vs. DSU.

Buckeyes Open Season at St. John
 Ohio State returned to the longtime home of the Buckeyes (St. John Arena) in the season opener because of a conflict at Value City Arena, Ohio State’s home court since the 1998-99 season. The Buckeyes have an all-time record of 430-151 (.740) over 42 seasons (1957-1998) at St. John plus four games played there since the move to the VCA. Ohio State played two games last year at St. John, a regular-season win vs. Virginia Military (90-57/Nov. 25, 2007) and a victory vs. California (73-56) in the second round of the 2008 NIT March 24. More than 6.6 million fans have attended games at the 13,276-seat venue.

NOTRE DAME SERIES INFORMATION
 Ohio State is 6-4 in the series with Notre Dame since 1912. The teams last squared off Dec. 3, 1973, a 76-72 ND victory in Columbus. The game vs. the Irish to start the 1999-2000 season was vacated.

OHIO STATE VS. THE BIG EAST          
 Ohio State is 69-46 all-time vs. teams representing the Big East. Ohio State last took on a Big East opponent last year. The Buckeyes defeated No. 21 Syracuse 79-65 in the semifinals of the Preseason NIT in New York.
Cincinnati          5-4
Connecticut      3-1
DePaul              5-4
Georgetown     3-2
Louisville          4-3
Marquette         5-4
Notre Dame      6-4
Pittsburgh        15-10
Providence      1-0
Rutgers           0-1
St. John’s        4-2
Seton Hall        3-2
South Florida   0-2
Syracuse        4-1
Villanova         2-1
West Virginia  9-5
Totals             69-46

Noting the Miami, Fla. Game 
Sophomore Jon Diebler scored a career-high 20 points while making a career-best six 3-pointers. The last Buckeyes to reach 20 points in a game were Kosta Koufos (22) and Evan Turner (20) in the title game of the NIT last season, a 92-85 victory for the Buckeyes in New York.
Evan Turner scored 19 points, all in the second half, for the Buckeyes. He played just eight minutes in the first half because of foul trouble. He played all 20 minutes in the second half.
Freshman B.J. Mullens grabbed a career-high nine rebounds.
Ohio State is 124-208 all-time against teams ranked in the AP Top 25. The last time Ohio State knocked off a ranked foe on the road was against No. 18 Michigan State Feb. 22, 2006, (79-68) in East Lansing.
Ohio State is 3-3 all-time against teams ranked No. 21 in the AP poll.
Ohio State used a 15-2 run to start the second half to close to within a point of the Hurricanes (38-37) with 15:07 to play. Ohio State trailed 36-22 at the break.
The Buckeyes tied the game at 54-all with 7:28 to play on a basket by Turner. A Jeremie Simmons 3-pointer with 6:53 to play gave Ohio State the lead for good.
Diebler is 13-28 from 3-point range (.464) on the season after shooting 48-166 (.289) as a freshman. He played all 40 minutes vs. the Hurricanes, a career high.
David Lighty also played 40 minutes in the win. He scored 11 points to reach 500 for his career (507). Lighty averages 6.3 points over 80 career games.
Ohio State shot 27.6 percent in the first half (8-29). The squad nearly doubled its shooting percentage over the final 20 minutes shooting 54.8 percent (17-31).
The Buckeyes forced 10 second-half Hurricane turnovers while committing just one miscue. Ohio State took advantage by outscoring Miami 14-0 in the points off turnovers category in the second half.
Ohio State is now 53-54 in road openers.
Ohio State is 2-5 all time in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge. Miami is 0-3.  
With the win, Ohio State is 2-0 against Miami, Fla., all-time and 34-25 against teams from the ACC.
Thad Matta improved his career record to 211-66 in his ninth season as a head coach. He is 109-35 in his fifth year at Ohio State.
Matta has started the season 4-0 in four of his five season at Ohio State.

Opponents ranked in preseason
 Michigan State (No. 12 in ESPN/USA Today and No. 13 in the AP polls), Notre Dame (7/7),  Purdue (10/9), Miami, Fla. (22/21) and Wisconsin (22/RV) all are ranked among the Top 25 teams nationally. Michigan, Illinois and Butler are receiving votes for Top 25 consideration.
 
Kecman to miss 12 games
 Sophomore transfer Nikola Kecman will miss the first 12 (8 more) regular-season games to satisfy an NCAA penalty for playing on a team in his native Serbia before coming to the United States. The NCAA determined the team provided some players (not Kecman) with benefits above necessary expenses. Kecman, who did not benefit for playing for the team, is required to sit out two games for every one he played (6) for the foreign team. 

Redd Represents Ohio State at 2008 Olympics
 Michael Redd, who played for the Buckeyes from 1998-2000, represented Ohio State and his native Columbus on the United States senior national team at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, China. Redd is the third Buckeye to play on the U.S. Olympic men’s basketball team. Jerry Lucas (1960-62) played on the 1960 squad and Bill Hosket (1966-68) represented Ohio State on the 1968 team. Lucas, Hosket and Redd all helped the United States earn gold medals. Redd and the 2008 U.S. squad claimed gold with a win over Spain.

Miller Returns
 Thad Matta added another “M” to his coaching staff with the addition of Brandon Miller, who left his alma mater, Butler, to return to the Ohio State staff as an assistant coach. Miller was the Buckeyes’ director of basketball operations for two seasons (2005, 2006) and the Ohio State video coordinator (2007) before returning to Butler, where he graduated in 2003, as a full-time assistant for the 2007-08 season. Miller replaces John Groce, who left for the head coaching job at Ohio last summer. The entire Ohio State coaching staff is listed under “M” in the athletics department staff director. Alan Major is in his fifth season in Columbus and Archie Miller, no relation to Brandon, is in his second season as a Buckeye assistant coach.

Newcomers Dominate Ohio State Roster in 2008-09
 Thad Matta is no stranger to retooling when it comes to his roster. In the last three years his teams have had four new starters each season with point guard Jamar Butler being the only mainstay. With Butler gone after a remarkable four-year career, Matta welcomes eight new faces to the Ohio State program this season. Four scholarship freshmen, two junior college transfers, another transfer from a four-year NCAA Division I school and a walk-on join eight returnees from the 2007-08 campaign. As has been the case over the last four years, Matta recruited some of the nation’s most talented high school student-athletes in William Buford (Toledo, Ohio), Anthony Crater (Flint, Mich.), B.J. Mullens (Columbus, Ohio) and Walter Offutt (Indianapolis). From the JC ranks, the Buckeyes welcome junior Jeremie Simmons (Chicago) and Nikola Kecman, a sophomore from Belgrade, Serbia. Zisis Sarikopoulos, a transfer from Alabama-Birmingham and native of Athens, Greece, will join Ohio State for the start of fall camp in September. J.J. Grycko, a freshman forward from Cincinnati, Ohio, was added to the roster as a walk-on at the start of Ohio State’s fall quarter.

Lighty to Provide Experience
 It was not long ago it seems that David Lighty was a newcomer alongside one of Ohio State’s finest recruiting classes of all-time. He was one of Matta’s first complete recruiting classes in 2006 along with Greg Oden, Mike Conley Jr., Daequan Cook and Othello Hunter. Three of those players (Oden, Conley and Cook) played in the National Basketball Association after their freshman year. Hunter achieved that goal with the Atlanta Hawks after two terrific seasons at Ohio State (2007-08). Lighty returns for his junior year as Ohio State’s top returning scorer (9.0 ppg.) from last season. He also has the most career games played (76) and starts (44) of any returning Buckeye. He continues to improve and is expected to lead a young Ohio State team, with no scholarship seniors this season. Eleven of the 12 players on scholarship who are eligible to play in 2008-09 have just one year of playing experience or are newcomers in Columbus. Lighty has two. Transfer Zisis Sarikopoulos is on scholarship but will sit out the 2008-09 season to satisfy NCAA transfer rules.

Buford, Mullens Add to Ohio State’s McDonald’s list
 William Buford and B.J. Mullens represented Ohio State and the nation’s top high school recruits March 29 at the Bradley Center in Milwaukee, Wis., in the 2008 McDonald’s All-American game. Buford played for the East team and Mullens for the West. Thad Matta has added a total of six McDonald’s All-Americans to the Buckeye men’s basketball program in his five years in Columbus. Thirteen Buckeyes have been associated with the annual event. Four McDonald’s All-Americans were a part of Ohio State’s 2006-07 squad that finished 35-4 overall, 15-1 in Big Ten Conference play, won the league regular-season title outright and played for the NCAA national title vs. Florida in April of 2007. Ivan Harris, Greg Oden, Mike Conley Jr., and Daequan Cook, all former McDonald’s All-Americans, played for the Buckeyes in 2006-07. Clark Kellogg (1979), Perry Carter (1987), Treg Lee (1987), Jim Jackson (1989), Charles Macon (1992), Greg Simpson (1992) and Kosta Koufos (2007) all played for Ohio State after playing in the McDonald’s All-American game. Harris played in the 2003 event while Oden, Conley Jr. and Cook played in the 2006 contest.

Depth, full roster provide options for Matta
 Jamar Butler ran the point for the Buckeyes exclusively as a sophomore and senior while sharing the post with Mike Conley Jr. in 2006-07. Butler averaged 36 minutes a game as a senior and more than 30 minutes over 139 career appearances, an Ohio State record for career games played. Matta hopes to rotate personnel more in 2008-09 at the guard position and throughout the lineup with a full roster of 13-scholarship players and the availability of three walkons. Only transfer Zisis Sarikopoulos will be unavailable this season as he sits out to satisfy NCAA transfer rules after playing one season at UAB last year.

Inexperience will be prevalent at the point guard position but there are options. Freshman Anthony Crater, junior college transfer Jeremie Simmons and returnee P.J. Hill all will vie for playing time. Crater is closest to a true point guard with the ability to create shots for others while finding openings to get to the basket. Simmons was a scorer at the JC level but also has proven abilities at running the offense. Hill subbed for Butler a year ago and displayed the ability to get to the basket while creating chances for his teammates.

At the wing position, Ohio State will feature its most experience. David Lighty, Evan Turner and Jon Diebler all return while freshmen William Buford and Walter Offutt bring impressive high school statistics to the table. The depth at this position will make for intense competition throughout the year.

Inside play will feature the nation’s top recruit, freshman B.J. Mullens, a 7-0 skilled offensive player with rebounding and shot blocking abilities. He will battle alongside sophomore returnee Dallas Lauderdale, who has made strides physically over the summer and will likely make his presence felt defensively with his size, length and leaping ability. Newcomer Nikola Kecman, a sophomore junior college transfer, also provides size at 6-8 with outside shooting abilities. Another returnee, Kyle Madsen also will see time down low after spending two years in the program as a transfer from Vanderbilt.

Non-conference schedule to ready Buckeyes for Big Ten
 A young Ohio State team will be tested several times in non-conference action before opening a grueling 18-game Big Ten conference slate. The Buckeyes took on Miami (Fla.) on the road in the annual Big Ten/ACC Challenge. Later that week, Ohio State travels to Indianapolis to face Notre Dame, one of four schools from the state of Indiana on the 2008-09 schedule. The ND game will be part of a doubleheader at Lucas Oil Stadium, the new home of the Indianapolis Colts. Indiana and Gonzaga make up the first game of the event. Butler University, alma mater of both Ohio State head coach Thad Matta and assistant coach Brandon Miller, travels to Columbus for the third game of a four-game series with the Bulldogs. West Virginia, coached by longtime Cincinnati coach and former Ohio State assistant Bob Huggins, begins a home-and-home series with the Buckeyes at Value City Arena in late December. Conference play begins in early January. Ohio State will face eight league teams twice with Wisconsin (in Madison) and Penn State (in Columbus) taking on the Buckeyes once this year.   

Buckeyes Among Nation’s elite teams with Matta at helm
 The Buckeyes have won at least 20 games in each of the four seasons with Thad Matta as head coach. The 2006-07 squad won a school-record 35 games on its way to the NCAA title game. The 2007-08 team won 24 games and claimed the 2008 National Invitation Tournament championship. In the last three years, Matta’s Buckeyes have 85 wins against just 23 setbacks, the seventh best win total and win percentage (.797) nationally over the last three seasons.  

Best Winning Percentage,
last 3 seasons (2006-08)

Memphis             104 10 .912
Kansas                95 16 .856
UCLA                   97 17 .851
North Carolina     90 18 .833
Florida                 92 23  .800
Duke                   82 21 .796
Ohio State          85 23 .787