Ohio State, Northwestern tip off a 9 p.m. ET Wednesday on Big Ten Network
Feb. 18, 2009
Ohio State (17-6, 7-5), Northwestern (13-10, 4-8)
Site: Welsh-Ryan Arena (8,11)
Game Time: 9 p.m.
Talent: Tom Hamilton (Play by Play)
Steve Smith (Expert Analysis)
Radio/Internet: OSU Radio Network (60 stations)/ Buckeye Vision
Local Radio: WBNS FM-97.1 AM-1460
Radio Talent: Paul Keels (P-by-P)
Ron Stokes (Expert Analysis)
Tickets: Go to OhioStateBuckeyes.com
Turner Tops Buckeye Charts
Sophomore Evan Turner is one of nine players nationally to lead his team in points (398/17.3 ppg.), rebounds (170/7.4 rpg.), assists (77/3.3 apg.) and steals (44/1.9 spg.). He also has played the most minutes (820/35.7 mpg.), made the most field goals (131) and free throws (127). He leads in offensive (40) and defensive rebounds (130). With 398 points over 23 games, he is on pace to become join Ohio State’s 500-point club. A total of 26 players all-time have scored 500 or more points in a season for the Buckeyes. Jamar Butler (554/2007-08) and Kosta Koufos (534/2007-08) did so last season. Among Big Ten players, Turner ranks No. 2 in defensive rebounding, No. 3 in scoring, rebounding, assists and minutes played. In Big Ten games only, Turner is the league’s top scorer (18.4 ppg.) and defensive rebounder (5.92 drpg.). He is the No. 3 rebounder (7.6 rpg.) and has played the most minutes (463/38.6 mpg.).
Players Leading Team in: Pts, Rebs, Asts, & Steals
Through 02/16/09, Division I Only
Source: STATS LLC — Chicago
Evan Turner, Ohio State
Tywain McKee, Coppin State
Alex Barnett, Dartmouth
Nate Rohnert, Denver
Mike Rose, E Kentucky
Jeremy Lin, Harvard
Jeremy Chappell, Robert Morris
Bobby Davis, USC Upstate
Dominique Jones, South Florida
The Northwestern Series
Ohio State leads the all-time series vs. Northwestern 105-44 with a record of 43-30 in Evanston. The Buckeyes have won the last 11 games in the series since Feb. 21, 1998, a 70-62 setback in Evanston. Thad Matta is 7-0 vs. the Wildcats since taking over the Ohio State program in 2004-05. Evan Turner averaged 13.0 points and 5.0 rebounds a game in two appearances vs. the Wildcats last season to lead the current roster of Buckeyes in the series. He connected on 10 of 15 field goals and 4 of 5 3-pointers a year ago vs. Northwestern. Jon Diebler contributed 12 points a game as well. The teams will end the regular season in Columbus March 8. That game tips at 5 p.m. ET. Northwestern has dropped its last 25 games in Columbus. The last Wildcat win on Ohio State’s campus was an 83-72 victory at St. John Arena Feb. 24, 1977.
Turner Hits POW Trifecta
Sophomore Evan Turner has won the Big Ten’s Player of the Week award three times this season after earning his second-consecutive honor after a pair of wins vs. ranked teams last week. Turner averaged a double-double in wins vs. No. 12 Purdue Feb. 3 and No. 19 Minnesota Feb. 7. Both games were in Columbus. The most recent honor followed his second POW honor Feb. 2 after wins vs. Michigan Jan. 25 at home and a win at Indiana Jan. 31. His first POW of the year followed victories at No. 21 Miami, Fla., Dec. 2 and vs. No. 7 Notre Dame Dec. 6 in Indianapolis. Turner is the first Buckeye to repeat as the Big Ten POW since Terence Dials won back-to-back awards in 2004-05. The last Ohio State players to win three awards in the same year were Scoonie Penn and Michael Redd, who each did so in 1998-99.
Turner Torrid from Field of Late
In the last four games Evan Turner has connected on 32 of 56 (.571) shots from the field. He has scored 96 points during that stretch for a 24.0 ppg. scoring average. The Buckeyes are 3-1 with Turner scoring 20 or more points in three. He also averaged 9.3 rebounds while knocking down 76 percent of his foul shots (32-42). He has added 19 assists, four blocks and six steals during the stretch. In the last eight games, Turner has missed only three of a possible 325 minutes on the court, including all 45 minutes in the overtime win vs. Purdue Feb. 3.
A total of 98 Buckeye players have recorded a double-double all-time at Ohio State. Evan Turner has nine total to his credit, seven this season. There have been 784 games in which an Ohio State player as recorded a combination of 10 or more points, rebounds, assists or steals. Ohio State is 532-252 in games when at least one double-double is recorded by an Ohio State player. Since Thad Matta took over in Columbus, Ohio State is 47-10 when at least one player records a double double.
Ranked Foes Fall vs. Buckeyes
No. 21 Miami (W, 73-68/Dec. 2), No. 7 Notre Dame (W, 67-62/Dec. 6) and No. 25 Michigan (W, 65-58/Jan. 17) fell to the unranked Buckeyes away from Columbus with No. 12 Purdue (W, 80-72 ot/Feb. 3) and No. 19 Minnesota (W, 64-58) suffering setbacks in Columbus this year. The Hurricanes played host to Ohio State in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge, while the Fighting Irish and Buckeyes met on a neutral court in Indianapolis. Ohio State is 128-211 all-time vs. ranked opponents. The Buckeyes have won seven of the last 11 outings vs. ranked opponents, including back-to-back home wins in March of 2008 vs. No. 15 Purdue (80-77 in overtime, 3/4) and No. 17 Michigan State (63-54, 3/9). Ohio State wins vs. the Hurricanes and Fighting Irish matched the two-consecutive wins vs. ranked opponents away from Columbus vs. No. 5 Memphis (92-76) in San Antonio, Texas, and No. 9 Georgetown (67-60) in Atlanta during the 2007 NCAA Tournament. Unranked Buckeye teams have defeated at least three ranked teams in each of the last two seasons. The last time an unranked Ohio State team defeated five ranked teams in a season was in 1989-90 when the Buckeyes put together a 6-9 record vs. Top 25 opponents. Ohio State was not ranked in any of those 15 games.
Matta reaches 50 league wins
Thad Matta is 52-26 in Big Ten Conference play during his five-year career at Ohio State. With the win at Indiana Jan. 31 he became the sixth Buckeye head coach to reach 50 regular-season conference wins. Matta became the second-fastest Ohio State coach to win 50 league games behind Fred Taylor (1959-76), who needed only 61 games in five seasons to reach 50 wins. Matta (2005-present) has coached 76 Big Ten Conference regular-season games in five seasons. Randy Ayers (1990-1997) reached 50 wins in 77 games, also in five years.
Coach Yr Rcd. Gms. to 50 50th W Score/Date
Fred Taylor 5 50-11 61 NW 72-70 (1/28/63)
Thad Matta 5 50-25 75 IND 93-81 (1/31/09)
Randy Ayers 5 50-27 77 PSU 79-57 (1/19/94)
Eldon Miller 6 50-46 96 NW 59-57 (1/23/82)
Note: Miller (1977-1986), Harold G. Olsen (1923-1946) and Floyd S. Stahl (1951-58) all won at least 50 Big Ten games.
Mullens, Buford making mark in freshman record book
B.J. Mullens currently is No. 1 in field goal percentage for freshmen in Ohio State history just ahead of Greg Oden (.616/2007) and Terence Dials (.623/2002). Mullens is scoring on 63.6 percent of his shots to date (89-140). He also will be among the best rookie shot blockers before this season is done. William Buford likely will be among the Top 10 in points if his scoring average is maintained for the remainder of the season. He has 271 points to date. Kelvin Ransey scored 327 as a rookie in 1977 to hold down the No. 9 spot among Ohio State freshman scorers. Buford also is on pace to climb the 3-pointers made list. He has 32 makes to date to rate No. 6 among all Ohio State freshmen. Buford’s field goals percentage from 3-range is 36.4 percent, good for the No. 5 spot ahead of Alex Davis, who made 35.8 percent of his 3s in 1990 to hold down the No. 6 position (38-106).
Rookie Bucks Lead Big Ten Frosh
In all games played this season, B.J. Mullens leads the Big Ten (all players) in field goal percentage with 89 field goals on 140 attempts (.636). In league games only, Mullens also tops the list in field goal percentage (.709/56-79). In conference games, William Buford leads freshmen in scoring (14.5 ppg.).
Buford Selected Big Ten POW
Ohio State freshman William Buford earned his first weekly honor after leading the Buckeyes to a pair of victories over Indiana (Jan. 13) at home and No. 25 Michigan (Jan. 17) on the road. In the two wins, Buford averaged 17 points, six rebounds and went 13-of-25 (.520) from the field. The Toledo, Ohio, native also recorded four assists and two steals while averaging 36.5 minutes per game. Against the Hoosiers, Buford tied a career high with 19 points, netting 4-of-7 (.571) from behind the arc, marking the third-consecutive game that he either set or tied his career high in scoring. Against Michigan, he reached double figures for the eighth time in his last nine outings with 15 points. On the week, Buford went 5-of-11 (.455) from 3-point range and 3-of-4 (.750) from the charity stripe.
Matta working on 20 wins, again
Thad Matta has won 20 or more games in each season as a collegiate head coach. Mark Few and Matta are the only active head coach coaches with 20 or more wins in every season as a head coach. Few has done so nine times, Matta eight. The Buckeyes are 17-6 overall to date with at least seven games remaining this season (6 regular season, 1 in Big Ten tournament). Matta also is working on 300 career games as a head coach. He is 224-72 (296) during his career.
Big Ten Balance
Four players, two sophomores and two freshmen, average 10 or more points in Big Ten Conference play this season for the Buckeyes. Sophomore Evan Turner leads the way with 18.4 ppg. Freshman William Buford is next with 14.5 points per game. Sophomore Jon Diebler averages 11.6 ppg. and freshman B.J. Mullens adds 10.5 ppg. Mullens scores at a 71 percent clip (56-79) from the field. Turner leads the team in minutes (463/38.6 mpg.) and is the top rebounder (7.6 rpg.). Buford has made 18 of 19 (.947) foul shots vs. Big Ten foes.
Shoot to thrill
Ohio State connected on 11 of 16 3-pointers in the first half in its 77-53 victory over Indiana at Value City Arena Jan. 13. That half of long-range production is the second best effort for 20 minutes behind a 12 of 16 long-range assault vs. Michigan Feb. 9, 2006, in Ann Arbor. Guard Je’Kel Foster led the way shooting 5 of 6 from long range in that game. Jon Diebler connected on 5 of 6 treys vs. IU to finish with 17 points, all in the first half. Diebler has made 36-of-82 3-point field goals in the 11 Big Ten games to date (.439).
Left, Right, Left
Three Buckeyes have not needed to launder their uniforms of late after suffering injuries. David Lighty (broken bone in LEFT foot suffered Dec. 17, 2008) is out 6-12 weeks. Mark Titus (RIGHT midfoot sprain suffered Jan. 8) was out three weeks and Nikola Kecman (LEFT ACL tear Jan. 12) is out for the season. He is expected to be back in time for fall 2009 practice after surgery Jan. 29. Kecman missed the first 12 regular-season games to satisfy an NCAA penalty for playing on a team in his native Serbia before coming to the United States. His only action as a Buckeye came against Houston Baptist Jan. 9. He scored six points to go with five rebounds in 11 minutes. Lighty had surgery Dec. 18 to repair the break in his left foot. Lighty underwent a procedure on the fifth metatarsal in which a screw was inserted by Dr. Grant Jones at the OSU Medical Center. Lighty is the most experienced Buckeye with 83 career appearances and 51 starts. In seven games this season, all wins, Lighty averaged 9.7 points and 5.7 rebounds.
2008-09 Non-conference Record Among Matta’s Best
Since Thad Matta took over the Ohio State men’s basketball program at the start of the 2004-05 season, the Buckeyes have a record of 53-10 in regular season non-conference play. The 10-1 record this year is the second best effort during Matta’s tenure. The 2005-06 team was 11-0 in non-conference play before postseason play.
Year Non-Conf. Rcd Overall Rcd. Postseason
2004-05 11-3 20-12 Not eligible
2005-06 11-0 26-6 NCAA 2nd Rnd.
2006-07 12-2 35-4 NCAA Title Game
2007-08 9-4 24-13 NIT Champs
2008-09 10-1 17-6 —
Totals 53-10 122-41
Turner, Sophs, Lead Buckeyes
Sophomore Evan Turner has been the constant for Ohio State to date this season. He is the team’s leading scorer with 17.3 ppg. His 7.4 rebounds a game, 77 assists, 44 steals, 398 points, 131 field goals, 127 free throws and 820 minutes all lead the Buckeyes this season. Classmate Jon Diebler leads in 3-pointers made (58) and is second in steals (27). Another sophomore, Dallas Lauderdale, is one of the nation’s top shot blockers with a team and Big Ten leading 51 swats on the year. He also leads the team in field goal percentage at 68 percent (45-66).
Buckeyes Compete in 97th Season as Big Ten Conference Member
This is the 97th season of Big Ten membership in men’s basketball for the Buckeyes. Ohio State is 679-650 all-time vs. Big Ten Conference opponents.
Michigan State 48-57
Penn State 21-12
Matta Owns Top Win Percentage among Ohio State Coaches
Thad Matta, now in his fifth season as head coach of the Buckeyes, has an overall win percentage of .757 (224-72) after 296 games. His record at Ohio State is 122-41 (.748) after 163 games in Columbus. That winning mean is the highest among the 11 head coaches in the history of the Ohio State men’s basketball program with three or more seasons on the sidelines. Matta’s 52-26 record in Big Ten regular-season play (.667) also has produced the highest winning percentage in conference play among any previous Ohio State coach. Fred Taylor (1959-76) is second in both overall win percentage (.653/297-158) and Big Ten win percentage (.608/158-102) in 18 seasons.
Ohio State’s Best Starts
Ohio State has opened five seasons at 9-0 or better after the Buckeyes downed Asheville Dec. 22, 83-59 in Columbus. Thad Matta has guided Ohio State in two of those seasons. The four previous 9-0 or better starts have resulted in NCAA tournament appearances for Ohio State.
Yr. Start Final Rcd. Post Season
1960-61 27-0 27-1 NCAA (title game)
1961-62 22-0 26-2 NCAA (title game)
1990-91 17-0 27-4 NCAA (reg. semifinals)
2005-06 11-0 26-6 NCAA (2nd Rnd.)
2008-09 9-0 — —
February Record 21-10 for Matta
Since Thad Matta took over the Ohio State men’s basketball program at the start of the 2004-05 season, the Buckeyes have a record of 21-10 in the month of February. He is 27-16 in January, 30-4 in the December and 21-4 in November.
Year Nov. Dec. Jan. Feb.
2004-05 5-1 6-1 3-5 4-3
2005-06 3-0 7-0 5-3 6-1
2006-07 6-1 5-1 8-1 7-0
2007-08 4-2 5-1 6-3 2-5
2008-09 3-0 7-1 4-4 2-1
Totals 21-4 30-4 27-16 21-10
Home Win Streak Ends at 12
The Asheville win (Dec. 22/83-59) was the 12th-consecutive in Columbus for the Buckeyes after ending the 2007-08 season with five home victories and starting the 2008-09 campaign 7-0 in the capital city. Two of the wins in the streak were at St. John Arena, a 73-56 victory over California in the second round of the 2008 National Invitation Tournament (March 24) and a 70-42 victory over Delaware State to open this season (Nov. 20).
Noting the Buckeyes…
Sophomore Jon Diebler reached 100 career 3-pointers made (106-308) with five vs. Indiana Jan. 31 … he is connecting on 40 percent of his treys (58-145) this season, up from 28.9 percent (48-166) as a freshman … he set a career mark with seven made 3s in the win vs. Iowa (Dec. 31) … in 12 Big Ten games this season, Diebler has made 36-of-82 treys (.439) … needs 20 made treys to crack the Top 10 in career made 3-pointers (M. Redd No. 10 with 126) … Diebler has played in 60 games to date with 31 starts … he reached 100 career rebounds (162) with three vs. Butler Dec. 13 … his scoring average is up from 5.9 ppg. as a freshman to 10.6 ppg. this season and 7.7 ppg. for his career … he connected on a career-best 11-of-12 foul shots to finish with 16 points in the win vs. Iona (Dec. 20) … also contributed four steals in the Iona victory … 106 of 140 career field goals are 3-pointers … handed out a career-high eight assists in win vs. Houston Baptist (Jan. 9) … he reached 100 career assists (106) with seven vs. Purdue Feb. 3.
Sophomore Dallas Lauderdale made his first career start vs. Delaware State (Nov. 20) … he has rejected 51 shots this season in 23 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 68 percent from the field (44-65) and is a career 65 percent shooter (56-86).
David Lighty started his 44th-consecutive game in the win vs. Jacksonville Dec. 17 … he suffered a broken bone in his left foot in the JU game and will be out six-12 weeks … he has 51 career starts to his credit … Lighty reached 500 points for his career (544) with 11 at Miami–in 83 games he has averaged 6.6 points a game … he tied his career high with 21 points vs. Jacksonville.
Junior Kyle Madsen appeared in his 32nd game as a Buckeye vs. Minnesota Feb. 7 … vs. Asheville Dec. 22 he made his first career start and logged 14 minutes of court time, grabbed four rebounds and scored four points in the win … he recorded a career-best six rebounds vs. Samford Nov. 29.
Sophomore Evan Turner has been a consistent contributor so far this season … he reached 700 career points (711) in the Wisconsin game (Feb. 14) with 23 … has 131 field goals and 127 free throws made this season … he poured in a career-high 29 points at Indiana Jan. 31 on 10 of 14 shooting from the field and a 9 of 10 effort from the free throw line … led Ohio State with 26 points in win vs. No. 12 Purdue Feb. 3 in Columbus … he also notched his seventh double-double of the season and ninth career DD vs. Minnesota Feb. 7 with 18 points and 10 rebounds … in the Notre Dame win, Turner scored 28 points while playing all 40 minutes … he was named the MVP of the Hall of Fame Showcase game vs. the Irish and was the Big Ten player of the week (Dec. 8) … against Samford, Turner recorded a 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 … he reached 100 career assists (175) in the win vs. DSU with three … he led the team with 14 points in the Butler win Dec. 13 while also adding four steals … has at least one assist in every game this season and has 77 on the year … has 2 or more steals in 12 games this season … 24 career games with 2 or more thefts … Ohio State is 28-8 when Turner scores 10 or more points.
Freshman William Buford made his first career start in the Asheville win Dec. 22 … he responded with 16 points, a total he tied in win vs. Iowa Dec. 31 … also added a career-high seven rebounds vs. Asheville … set career high with 24 points in Indiana win Jan. 31 … followed IU effort with 22 points vs. No. 12 Purdue Feb. 3 … tallied 17 points at Michigan State Jan. 6 and had 19 points vs. Houston Baptist Jan. 9 … also had 19 vs. Indiana Jan. 12 … 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 (Nov. 20) … he was credited with three steals in the win vs. Bowling Green … against Notre Dame, Buford sparked the Buckeyes with nine first-half points to help knock off the No. 7 ranked Irish … added eight in the Jacksonville game (Dec. 17) … played 32 minutes vs. Iona (Dec. 20) and scored 10 points to go with five rebounds … double figure points in 12 of the last 14 games … has 15 double-figure outings this season.
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 … has 33 made 3s on the year, including the go-ahead trey in the road win vs. No. 21 Miami Dec. 2 … scored career-high 17 points at Indiana Jan. 31 to go along with eight assists, which tied a career best effort … his two foul shots late vs. Notre Dame helped secure the 67-62 win for the Buckeyes … he has made a 3-pointer in 20-of-23 games this season … was presented with his 2008 NJCAA Division II National Championship ring before JU game Dec. 17 … earned back-to-back national titles at Mott Community College before joining the Ohio State program.
Center B.J. Mullens started his first-career game vs. Iona (Dec. 20) … responded with nine points and four rebounds … led Ohio State with 19 points and eight rebounds in Asheville win Dec. 22 … spent most of 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 … his 11 points vs. Notre Dame was a career high effort … he also added seven boards vs. the Irish … tied career high with eight field goals made at Michigan State (16 pts.) … grabbed six boards and blocked two shots vs. the Spartans Jan. 6 … has 212 points on the season and is shooting 64 percent from the field (89-140) … double figures in nine of last 11 games …. shooting 71 percent from the field in Big Ten play (56-79).
Opponents ranked nationally
Four opponents on the Ohio State schedule in 2008-09 are currently ranked among the Top 25 nationally in either the Associated Press or ESPN/USA Today Coaches polls. No. 6 Michigan State is the highest ranked opponent in the most recent polls.
Team AP ESPN/USA Today
Michigan State 6 5
Illinois 18 16
Purdue 19 21
Butler 21 22
Miami, Fla. RV RV
Minnesota RV —
West Virginia RV —
Penn State — RV
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.
Noting The Wisconsin Game
Ohio State leads the all-time series with the Badgers, 79-62, with a record of 27-41 in Madison.
Freshman William Buford scored 11 points on 5-of-11 shooting. It was the 15th game this season he has been in double figures and 14th of the last 15.
Sophomore guard Evan Turner led the team in scoring for the 12th time this season, contributing 23 points, his fourth 20-point outing in the last five games. He has seven 20-point games this season.
Thad Matta’s career record is 224-72 in his ninth season as a head coach. He is 122-41 in his fifth year at Ohio State.
B.J. Mullens leads Ohio State freshmen, all-time, in field goal shooting percentage after going 3 for 3 at Wisconsin to impove his shooting average to 63.6 percent (89-140).
Mullens leads the Big Ten in overall shooting percentage and in league games only, 71 percent (56-79).
The Buckeyes are shooting 50 percent from the field in 12 league games … Ohio State connected on 55 percent of its shots at Wisconsin … Turner makes 51 percent of his shots (70-138) … freshman William Buford is close behind at 50 percent (68-137).
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.
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 directory. 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 welcomed 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 joined 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), B.J. Mullens (Columbus, Ohio) and Walter Offutt (Indianapolis). From the JC ranks, the Buckeyes welcomed junior Jeremie Simmons (Chicago) and Nikola Kecman, a sophomore from Belgrade, Serbia. Zisis Sarikopoulos, a transfer from Alabama-Birmingham and native of Athens, Greece, joined Ohio State for the start of fall camp in September.
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 provides 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 two 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. Junior college transfer Jeremie Simmons and returnee P.J. Hill will share playing time. 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, provided size at 6-8 with outside shooting abilities until he was lost for the season with a torn ACL in his left knee.
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 traveled to Indianapolis to face Notre Dame, one of four schools from the state of Indiana on the 2008-09 schedule. The ND game was part of a doubleheader at Lucas Oil Stadium, the new home of the Indianapolis Colts. Indiana and Gonzaga made up the first game of the event. Butler University, alma mater of both Ohio State head coach Thad Matta and assistant coach Brandon Miller, traveled to Columbus for the third game of a four-game series with the Bulldogs (Ohio State won 54-51 this year). West Virginia, coached by longtime Cincinnati coach and former Ohio State assistant Bob Huggins, began a home-and-home series with the Buckeyes at Value City Arena Dec. 27. 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. Prior to this season, Matta’s Buckeyes had 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