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Date: Nov. 21, 23, 2007
Opp: Syracuse (2-0)
Site: Madison Square Garden (19,763)
Game Time: 9 p.m. ET
Television: ESPN2
TV Talent: Dave O’Brien (P-by-P), Steve Lavin (Expert Analysis), Allen Hopkins (Sideline)
Radio: OSU Radio Network (59 stations)
Local Radio: WBNS FM-97.1 AM-1460
Radio Talent: Paul Keels (P-by-P), Ron Stokes (Expert Analysis)

Tough Stretch Awaits Buckeyes
Ohio State will play five games over a span of 11 days starting with the semifinals of the Dick’s Sporting Goods NIT Season Tip-Off against Syracuse Nov. 21. The event’s consolation and title games will be played Nov. 23. The Buckeyes will then hurry home for a Nov. 25 game against VMI before playing host to North Carolina Nov. 28 in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge. The Buckeyes will then travel to Indianapolis for a Dec. 1 game at Butler before a break for final exams Dec. 3-7.

Ohio State in Season Openers
Ohio State opened its 109th season of men’s basketball in the opening round of the Dick’s Sporting Goods NIT Season Tip-Off. The Buckeyes defeated Wisconsin-Green Bay and then Columbia to advance in the event. The Buckeyes are 87-18 in home openers and 83-22 in season openers all-time. In the first road game of the year, Ohio State is 51-54.

Matta Unbeaten in Openers
Thad Matta owns a record of 8-0 in season openers as a head coach. He was 1-0 at Butler, 3-0 at Xavier and is 4-0 at Ohio State. In his eight season debuts, Matta defeated Eastern Illinois (90-73) in his first game at Butler in 2000. In his first game as Xavier head coach in 2001, Matta’s squad downed Coastal Carolina 72-41. He also guided the Musketeers to season-opening wins in 2002, an 87-48 win over St. Peters in the preseason NIT, and in 2003, a 62-37 victory over Coppin State. In his first game as a Buckeye in 2004, the Buckeyes knocked off Towson University 74-53 in the opening round of the Guardians Classic in Columbus. Ohio State defeated Chicago State in the 2005 opener 81-52 and handed VMI a 107-69 defeat in the Black Coaches Association Classic a year ago. Ohio State defeated Green Bay (91-68) to open the 2007-08 season in Columbus.

Five Buckeye Games Sold Out
Tickets to several Ohio State men’s basketball games are sold out for the 2007-08 season. Games vs. North Carolina, Florida, Indiana, Wisconsin and Michigan State have been sold out. Pairs of tickets vs. Minnesota are in short supply as are single game tickets vs. the Golden Gophers. Tickets remain for VMI, Coppin State, Presbyterian, UMBC, Northwestern, Iowa, Illinois, Michigan and Purdue. To order tickets call 1-800-GO-BUCKS or go online at OhioStateBuckeyes.com.

Buckeyes Earn 1st Preseason NIT Victories
Ohio State is 2-2 in preseason NIT appearances after the pair of victories in Columbus last week to open the 2007 event. The Buckeyes first participated in the 1989. DePaul downed Ohio State Nov. 15, 1989, 71-53. Ohio University defeated the Buckeyes 78-67 Nov. 16, 1994 in Ohio State’s last appearance.

Ohio State vs. The Big East
The Buckeyes are 68-46 all-time against current Big East opponents and 3-1 in games vs. Syracuse. Ohio State defeated Georgetown in the NCAA National Semifinals a year ago to advance to the NCAA title game. Ohio State also defeated Cincinnati in Indianapolis last year in the first meeting between the two intrastate rivals since 1962.

Ohio State vs. The Big East

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 3-1
Villanova 2-1
West Virginia 9-5
Totals 68-46

Koufos, Butler Lead Buckeyes in Tune Ups
Jamar Butler, a preseason All-Big Ten selection at guard, averaged 14.5 points with five assists a game during the two-game exhibition season. The Lima, Ohio, native made a team-high six 3-pointers and 5 of 6 foul shots. His 10 assists led a team with seven newcomers, including five true freshmen. Kosta Koufos, a freshman center from Canton, Ohio, led the squad with 17.5 points and 9.5 rebounds a game. He connected on 65 percent of his field goals (15-23) over a total of 46 minutes in the two exhibition contests.

Madsen ready for Game Action
Kyle Madsen, a sophomore from Dublin, Ohio, played in a game that counts for the first time last week in more than two years. The Dublin Coffman High School graduate played at Value City Arena in the 2005 Ohio High School Boys Basketball Tournament before going to Vanderbilt for the 2005-06 season. He redshirted in his first year in Nashville, Tenn., before transferring to Ohio State, where he had to sit out the 2006-07 season to satisfy NCAA transfer rules. He played in both games last week in the opening rounds of the NIT Season Tip-Off.

The Buckeyes on This Date
Ohio State has played just once before on Nov. 21. The Buckeyes dropped a game at San Francisco (76-65) in 2003 while on a trip out to Hawaii for the Maui Classic. Ohio State has played twice on Nov. 23, a win over Circleville (26-5) in 1900 and most recently in 1996, a loss at South Florida (60-56).

Ohio State vs. the 2007 NIT Field
The Buckeyes have faced nine of the 15 possible opponents in the 2007 Dick’s Sporting Goods NIT Preseason Tip-Off. Ohio State has a 18-14 all-time record vs. the current field.

Opponents Ranked High in Preseason
North Carolina (No. 1 in ESPN/USA Today and No. 1 in the AP polls), Tennessee (7/7), Michigan State (12/12) and Indiana (8/8) all are ranked among the Top 15 teams in both polls. Ohio State also could face Texas A&M (T 15/15) or Washington (rv/rv) if the Buckeyes advance to the finals of the NIT Season Tip-Off at Madison Square Garden in New York Thanksgiving week. The Buckeyes open with Syracuse (25/rv) in the NIT semifinals. Other teams receiving votes for Top 25 consideration on the Buckeye schedule are Butler (rv/25), Florida, Wisconsin and Illinois. The Buckeyes edged the Badgers in the home finale a year ago to claim the league title and met Florida for the national championship in early April. Thad Matta is a Butler graduate (1990).

Noting the Columbia Game
The game last Tuesday was the first meeting between the Buckeyes and the Lions since Feb. 2, 1931 when Columbia edged Ohio State, 30-29, in Columbus.

Ohio State improved to 34-18 all-time vs. the Ivy League. Columbia was the only team without a loss to Ohio State before the Buckeyes’ 68-54 win. Princeton is the most familiar with Ohio State, facing the Buckeyes 13 times.

Ohio State has won the last 27-regular season games at Value City Arena. Matta holds a record of 50-3 at VCA and a 52-3 mark in Columbus in four years, including a school-record 18-0 campaign in 2006-07.

At the helm of the Buckeyes, Matta is 34-4 in regular-season nonconference games.

Ohio State has held its opponents to 70 or fewer points in 33 of its last 41 games, winning all contests.

The Buckeyes have won 34 of their last 35 games when leading at halftime and is 71-8 when leading at the halfway mark under Matta.

The Buckeyes have shot 50 percent or better in both NIT games. Ohio State was 35-for-67 (52.2) against Wisconsin-Green Bay Monday night and was 26-for-52 (50.0) vs. Columbia.

Senior guard Jamar Butler tied his career-best of seven rebounds set vs. Michigan State Jan. 15, 2006.

Butler improved to a tie for third all-time in career 3-point field goals made with 147. Currently, the Lima, Ohio, native is sixth in career 3-point field goals attempted with 397.

Butler set a personal-best of 11 3-point attempts last Tuesday. His previous high was 10 vs. VMI Nov. 10, 2006.

Sophomore David Lighty played a career-high 39 minutes against Columbia. Lighty’s previous career-best was 30 minutes against Penn State (Nov. 12, 2006). Lighty also tied his personal best of four assists, also tallied last Monday vs. Green Bay.

Ohio State is 8-1 when Lighty starts. The Buckeyes’ lone loss with Lighty as a starter came at North Carolina last season (Nov. 29, 2006).

The Buckeyes are 9-1 when Othello Hunter is a starter. The Buckeyes’ lone loss with Hunter as a starter came at North Carolina last season (Nov. 29, 2006).

Freshman Kosta Koufos lifted Ohio State to its largest lead of the game after knocking down a jumper at the 6:32 mark to give the Buckeyes a 57-41 lead in the second half.

Freshman Jon Diebler scored his first field goal, a 3-pointer, as a Buckeye, 16:18 into the first half.

Ohio State limited Columbia’s John Baumann to 12 points (4-for-12) in 35 minutes of play after he scored 21 points (7-for-11) for the Lions in 36 minutes of action Monday night against Delaware State.

The Buckeyes went on a 12-0 run over 2:41 (15:28-12:47) in the second half that included three 3-pointers (2 by Jamar Butler and 1 by Evan Turner) to take a 48-35 lead.

Ohio State held Columbia without a field goal until the 4:51 into the first half.

The Buckeyes finished the first half on a 14-3 run over the final 6:29 to erase a 4-point (23-19) deficit to create a 7-point Buckeye advantage at the break (33-26).

Buckeyes Return to St. John for Single Game This Season
Ohio State will play one game this season in St. John Arena, the home court of the Buckeyes from 1956-57 through 1997-98. Because of a scheduled event over the Thanksgiving weekend at Value City Arena, Ohio State will take on Virginia Military Institute at 8 p.m. Nov. 25 at St. John in just the second men’s basketball game played at the venue since the opening of Value City Arena for the 1998-99 season. Overall, the Buckeyes own a 427-151 record at St. John for a winning percentage of .739. More than 6.6 million fans have witnessed Ohio State men’s basketball games in the historic venue. Tickets are available by calling 1-800-GO BUCKS or online at OhioStateBuckeyes.com.

Butler Picked to Preseason All-League Team
Jamar Butler was selected to the 2007-08 Preseason First Team All-Big Ten squad by a panel of 22 media members who regularly cover Big Ten basketball. The honor was announced Oct. 27 at the annual league media day in Chicago. Ohio State was picked to finish third in the league race behind favorite Michigan State and Indiana. The Buckeyes are the two-time defending outright regular season champions and defending postseason league tournament winners.

Value City Arena Celebrates 10 Seasons as Home of The Buckeyes
Nearly 2.5 million fans have passed through the doors at Value City Arena since the facility opened for business in 1998-99 for men’s basketball. Ohio State fans have ranked among the Top 10 nationally in attendance in five of the nine years the facility has played host to the men’s basketball program. Buckeye fans have been treated to 48 home wins in the last three years under Thad Matta, including a school record 18-0 campaign a year ago.

Home Win Streak Alive
Ohio State won all 18 home games in 2006-07 to set a school record for home wins in a season. The Buckeyes have won the last 27 games at Value City Arena, which will celebrate its 10th season as Ohio State’s home court in 2007-08. In four season, Thad Matta has directed Ohio State to a 50-3 record at VCA and to a 52-3 mark in Columbus. The Buckeyes have played one game each at St. John Arena and Nationwide Arena in downtown Columbus over the last three years.

Situation Familiar for Matta
Thad Matta is familiar with the situation he finds the Ohio State men’s basketball team facing in 2007-08, his fourth in Columbus as head coach of the Buckeyes.

One starter returns from a record-setting 2006-07 season that ended with Ohio State winning a school-record 35 games, advancing to the program’s ninth Final Four, appearing in the NCAA title game, winning its second-consecutive outright Big Ten regular-season title and the program’s first postseason league tournament championship.

Senior Jamar Butler, who guided the Buckeyes to an outright league title as a sophomore in 2005-06, is the lone holdover among the starters from a year ago. He was in a similar position as a junior and will be sufficiently equipped to lead the Buckeyes again this season.

Butler will have support from three other returning letterwinners. Seniors Matt Terwilliger, Othello Hunter and sophomore David Lighty, all are back after significant contributions to Ohio State’s run toward the NCAA title a year ago.

The Newcomers
For the second-consecutive season, Matta has recruited one of the nation’s top incoming freshman classes. Five Buckeyes will be playing as rookies on a college campus. A sixth, sophomore Kyle Madsen, is eligible to compete after spending his freshman season as a redshirt at Vanderbilt and a transfer year at Ohio State a year ago. He will have three years of eligibility in Columbus. Another newcomer, junior college transfer P.J. Hill, also will have three seasons to play as a Buckeye.

Matta attracted a mix of size and skill in the 2007 class.

Jon Diebler, a 6-6 guard from Upper Sandusky (Ohio) High School, is the most prolific scorer in Ohio High School history. He led his team to the state title game as a senior after winning the championship as a sophomore. He scored 3,208 points as a prep standout. His average of just over 41 points a game as a senior not only led the state of Ohio but was the top scoring average nationally a year ago.

Kosta Koufos, a 7-0 post player from GlenOak High School in Canton, Ohio, gives the Buckeyes several options. He can perform well in the paint but is equally comfortable shooting 3-pointers, a rarity for a player of his exceptional size. His rebounding and ability to block or alter shots also will contribute significantly to Matta’s game planning strategy this year.

Dallas Lauderdale will play center at 6-feet-8-inches. His size, strength and general physical build is expected to add depth to the Buckeye frontcourt, which will be much deeper this season. Lauderdale, who competed against Koufos on several occasions while playing for Solon (Ohio) High School, has the size and strength to handle the rigorous Big Ten battles down low.

Evan Turner is a 6-6 guard from Chicago, where he starred for St. Joseph’s High School, one of the premier high school programs in the state of Illinois. With long arms and a wiry frame, he adds rebounding assistance as well as a scoring touch and an ability to get to the basket.

Eric Wallace was the last freshman recruit to commit to the Buckeyes for this season. He is likely to become a fan favorite with his exceptional leaping and acrobatic dunking ability. A native of Winston-Salem, N.C., Wallace also will be looked upon to rebound and contribute defensively. He played at Hargrave (Va.) Military Academy a season ago.

P.J. Hill, a junior college transfer from Minneapolis, joined the Buckeyes during the summer and will have three years of eligibility in Columbus. He played for one season at Midland (Texas) College, the 2007 National Junior College Athletics Association National Champions.

Hill (6-1, 160) was a point guard for the 29-8 Midland squad that won the NJCAA title for the first time since 1982 when Spud Web played for the Chaparrals. He averaged 6.5 points and nearly three assist a game a season ago. He played his high school basketball at Minneapolis North.

Lighty the International Captain
Sophomore David Lighty spent part of last summer playing for the United States Under-19 World Championship team that traveled to Serbia in July. Lighty was named team captain before the team began play in the event. The U.S. squad won the silver medal going 8-1 overall after a loss in the final (74-69) to tournament host Serbia.

Lighty started all nine games, averaged 23.7 minutes, second on the team, and shot 69 percent (31-45) from the field. He averaged 8.8 points and 3.9 rebounds in his first international competition. Lighty is the only sophomore returning from the 2006-07 squad that featured three Ohio State freshmen drafted in the first round of the 2007 NBA Draft (Greg Oden, No. 1/Portland, Mike Conley Jr. No. 4/Memphis and Daequan Cook No. 21/Philadelphia).

Butler for 3…Titles
Jamar Butler is the most experienced Buckeye on the 2007-08 roster after starting his first three seasons in Columbus in Thad Matta’s multiple point-guard offense. Butler led the Buckeyes to an outright Big Ten title as a sophomore and then teamed with Mike Conley Jr. to repeat the feat in 2007. Butler is among the top returning guards in the Big Ten and will again lead a squad primarily made up of newcomers when the season gets underway for his senior season. In 102 games as a Buckeye, Butler owns 360 career assists and is on pace to become a 1,000-point scorer (759 to date), the 43rd in Ohio State history and first since Terence Dials (1,566 pts. from 2002-06).

Matta Closing on 200 Wins, 100 at OSU
Thad Matta has guided the Buckeyes to 81 victories in 103 games at Ohio State. In seven seasons as a head coach, Matta has never failed to reach the 20-wins plateau in one season at Butler (24 wins), three at Xavier (26 wins each year) and three at Ohio State (20, 26, 35). He has averaged 26 wins over his career for a total of 183. Another 20-win season would eclipse the 200 mark for his career and the 100-win mark at Ohio State, a total only four previous head coaches have reached at Ohio State of the 13 who have led the men’s basketball program (Fred Taylor/297, Harold Olsen/260, Eldon Miller/174 and Randy Ayers/124).

Travel Indiana
Ohio State will make four trips to the state of Indiana in 2007-08. Traditional trips to West Lafayette and Bloomington to take on Big Ten foes Purdue and Indiana, respectively, will be supplemented by a pair of trips to Indianapolis to take on Butler (Dec. 1) and to participate in the Big Ten tournament in March (13-16). Indianapolis will be the host city of the annual league postseason tournament for the next five years.

The Schedule
Tennessee, North Carolina, Syracuse and Florida are certain opponents for the Ohio State Buckeyes in 2007-08. Add possible meetings against Texas A&M or Washington in the Preseason NIT along with a road game at Butler and one can imagine why Thad Matta, a former Butler Bulldog (class of 1990), had trouble sleeping last summer. Then there is an expanded Big Ten Conference schedule of 18 regular-season games, up from a 16-game schedule used from 1998-2007. All this after losing three student-athletes in the first 21 picks in the 2007 NBA Draft.

The Buckeyes have been here before. The team lost four starters after winning the 2006 Big Ten title and responded with another league crown in 2007 and a school record 35 victories. The constant from the situation in 2006-07 is point guard Jamar Butler, who helped lead the Buckeyes to back-to-back league crowns and an appearance in the NCAA title game last season. With four returning letterwinners and a slew of newcomers, the Buckeyes again hope to use the difficult schedule as a springboard to postseason play.