No. 1 Ohio State (22-13) vs. No. 2 Mississippi (24-10)

Date: Tuesday, April 1, 9 p.m.
Television: ESPN2
PBP: Ron Franklin
Analysts: Fran Fraschilla and Bill Raftery
Sideline: Allen Hopkins
Arena: Madison Square Garden (19,763)
Location: New York, N.Y.
Tickets: Ticketmaster (212-307-7171)

Ohio State is making its eighth appearance in the NIT all time. Overall, the Buckeyes have a 16-7 record in NIT postseason tournament competition. Ohio State won the event in 1986, 73-63 over Wyoming, and advanced to the finals in 1988 before a loss to Connecticut 72-67. The Buckeyes last played in the NIT in 2003, a first round loss to Georgia Tech in Atlanta (72-68).

Ohio State enters the semifinal round of the 2008 MasterCard NIT with a 22-13 overall record after wins vs. UNC Asheville (84-66) March 18, California (73-56) March 24 and Dayton (74-63) March 26. Thad Matta, head coach of the Buckeyes, will lead Ohio State against semifinal opponent Mississippi (24-10). Ohio State is the No. 1 seed and the Rebels are a No. 2 seed. The winner of the game between the Buckeyes and Mississippi will take on the winner of the contest between No. 2-seeds Florida and Massachusetts April 3 (7 p.m./ESPN).

The game with the Rebels will be the first meeting for the Buckeyes against Ole Miss. Ohio State is 28-25 in games vs. Southeastern Conference members. The Buckeyes defeated Florida earlier this year in Columbus 62-49 and fell to Tennessee 74-69 Jan. 19 in Knoxville. Ohio State faced the Gators in the NCAA championship game last season in Atlanta (L 84-75). The Buckeyes are 6-4 all-time in the Florida series and would meet Massachusetts for the first time.

Four Ohio State players average double figures in the three NIT games to date. Senior Jamar Butler and freshman Kosta Koufos lead with 53 points (17.7 ppg.). Senior Othello Hunter (10.7 ppg.) and sophomore David Lighty (10.0 ppg.) also contribute double digits offensivley. Hunter leads the team with 7.7 rebounds in NIT postseason play.
Kosta Koufos is connecting on 73 percent of his shots during postseason NIT competition (24-33). He knocked down 9 of 11 shots in the recent win over Dayton (21 points).
David Lighty leads the team with eight steals in the three NIT games. He also has contributed nine assists while shooting 50 percent from the field (11-22) and has gone 5-5 from the foul line.
As a team, the Buckeyes are averaging 77 points a game while holding three NIT opponents to 61.7 points a contest. Ohio State is connecting on 53 percent from the field (90-169) while holding opponents to 44 percent (74-169).
Ohio State has appeared in eight NIT postseason events since 1979.
Thad Matta is making his first postseason NIT appearance as a head coach. In eight seasons his teams have advanced to postseason play seven times. Ohio State was ineligible in 2005.
Six Big Ten teams were selected to participate in the 2008 NCAA and NIT postseason events. Wisconsin, Michigan State, Indiana and Purdue competed in the NCAA tournament while Ohio State and Minnesota qualified for the NIT.
Mississippi is one of 18 teams on the 2007-08 Ohio State schedule that qualified for either the NIT (8) or the NCAA (10). The Buckeyes are 11-11 vs. teams who qualified for postseason, 7-1 vs. the NIT field and 4-10 vs. the NCAA qualifiers.
Ohio State finished 15-3 in Value City Arena this season and 2-0 at St. John Arena. VCA played host to the first NIT game in the 10-year history of the facility vs. UNC Asheville March 18. The Buckeyes are 63-6 overall at VCA under Thad Matta and 67-6 in Columbus, which includes three wins at St. John Arena and one at Nationwide Arena in downtown Columbus.
The Buckeyes began the year in the preseason NIT with wins over UW Green Bay and Columbia in Columbus before traveling to New York for games against Syracuse and Texas A&M. The Buckeyes defeated the Orange 79-65 and then fell in the title game to the Aggies 70-47.

Jamar Butler became the 25th player in Ohio State history to reach 500 points in a single season with his 20-point effort March 24 against California. In 35 games this season the Lima, Ohio, native has 518 points, good for the No. 36 spot on the single season scoring chart at Ohio State. Greg Oden, a freshman a season ago for the Buckeyes, scored 501 points in 32 games played. A player has scored 500 or more points in a single season 37 times with Jerry Lucas (1960-62) and Michael Redd (1997-2000) leading the pack with three 500-plus seasons. Freshman Kosta Koufos moved to 496 points this year with 21 points against Dayton last Wednesday.

Ohio State’s lone National Invitation Tournament title game was played March 26, 1986, a 73-63 Buckeye victory over Wyoming at Madison Square Garden in New York. Dennis Hopson, Ohio State’s all-time leading scorer, led the Buckeyes with 26 points while Brad Sellers added 17 and a game-high 12 rebounds. Fennis Dembo lead Wyoming with 27 points. The Buckeyes defeated Dayton March 26 of this year in Columbus 74-63 to advance to NIT semifinals.

Ohio State played two games 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 faced Virginia Military Institute (W, 90-57) 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 429-151 record at St. John for a winning percentage of .740 after knocking off California in the NIT second round March 24, 73-56. More than 6.6 million fans have witnessed Ohio State men’s basketball games in the historic venue.

Six teams that won the regular season and/or postseason league titles in their respective conferences played Ohio State this season. The Buckeyes defeated Coppin State of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference, 47-39 Dec. 10. The Eagles won their league tournament to qualify for the 2008 NCAA Tournament. Ohio State downed UMBC Dec. 29 in Columbus, 92-83. The Retrievers won both their regular-season and the America East Conference tournament championships to secure the league’s automatic bid to the 2008 NCAA Tournament. The Buckeyes took on Atlantic Coast Conference champion and No. 1-ranked North Carolina in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge Nov. 28 (L 66-55) in Columbus and then traveled to meet No. 10 Butler, the Horizon League regular season and tournament champions (L 65-46) in Indianapolis Dec. 1. Another road game at Southeastern Conference champion Tennessee (L 74-69) set the stage for Ohio State’s lone matchup with Wisconsin (L 58-53) in Columbus Feb. 24. The Badgers won the regular season and Big Ten tournament titles. Ohio State also defeated Horizon League runner up Cleveland State 80-63 Dec. 18 in Cleveland.

When Ohio State battled No. 19 Michigan State for the second time in less than a week March 14, the game marked the fifth ranked opponent in six games for the Buckeyes. The stretch started with No. 11 Wisconsin Feb. 24 (L 58-53). No. 12 Indiana (L 72-69) followed Feb. 26. Ohio State then traveled to Minnesota (L 71-57) and returned home for wins over No. 15 Purdue (80-77 OT, March 4) and No. 17 Michigan State (63-54, March 9). Ohio State ended the season vs. five ranked foes in seven games a season ago.

Senior Jamar Butler was named 2008 First Team All-Big Ten by the league media and to the second team by the conferences coaches March 3. Butler ended the regular season averaging 14.6 points and 6.0 assists to lead the Buckeyes. He has made 95 3-pointers to become Ohio State’s all-time leader in that category along with his school record 562 career assists. Koufos, a third team All-Big Ten selection (coaches and media) and All-Freshman Team honoree (coaches), contributes 14.0 points and a team-leading 6.6 rebounds a game. He also has blocked 61 shots on the year to lead the Buckeyes and had a team-high 197 field goals. Another Ohio State freshman, Jon Diebler, was selected as the Buckeyes’ Big Ten Sportsmanship Award honoree.

Jamar Butler was named the Big Ten Player of the Week March 3 after he led Ohio State to a pair of wins over ranked opponents to close out the regular season. In wins over No. 15 Purdue (3/4) and No. 17 Michigan State (3/9), Butler averaged 22.5 points while making 58 percent of his field goals (11-19) and 100 percent of his foul shots (16-16). He also connected on 7-of-12 3-pointers (.583). Butler set the Ohio State record for games played (134) in the start vs. the Spartans March 14 in the 2008 Big Ten Tournament quarterfinals. The weekly honor was the second of the season for an Ohio State player. Freshman Kosta Koufos earned the honor in November.

Seven members of the Ohio State men’s basketball program were recognized before the final home game of the regular season against Michigan State March 9. Othello Hunter, Matt Terwilliger and Jamar Butler along with managers Anthony Calo, Levi Robinson, Kevin Rohrbacher and Matt Ullmer took part in pregame ceremonies along with members of their respective families. Over the last four years, the senior class has won a school record 103 games, two regular-season Big Ten titles, the 2007 Big Ten Tournament title and has appeared in two NCAA tournaments, including the 2007 NCAA National Championship game.

The Buckeyes are 9-7 all-time in Big Ten Tournament play since the event began in 1998. The Buckeyes were the No. 5 seed in 2008 and have won five of the last seven league tournament games.

Year (seed) W/L Opp. (seed) Score
1998 (11) L Indiana (6) 71-78
2000 (1) L Penn State (9) 66-71
2003 (8) W Iowa (9) 66-64
W Wisconsin (1) 58-50
W Michigan St. (5) 55-54
L Illinois (2) 59-72
2004 (9) L Indiana (8) 69-83
2005 (6) W Penn State (11) 72-69
L Wisconsin (3) 49-60
2006 (1) W Penn State (8) 63-56
W Indiana (5) 52-51
L Iowa (2) 60-67
2007 (1) W Michigan (8) 72-62
W Purdue (5) 63-52
W Wisconsin (2) 66-49
2008 (5) L Michigan State (4) 60-67

Jamar Butler has played in all but one game in his Ohio State career, a total of 137. Senior classmate Matt Terwilliger has made 116 appearances during his career. The pair will go down as the winningest Buckeyes all-time with 103 victories. Seniors on the 1963 team finished with 98 career wins for the second-most wins in school history, three NCAA championship game appearances, the national title in 1960 and four Big Ten titles, which includes three outright titles from 1960-62. Seniors on the 1964 and 1992 teams each finished their careers with 89 victories. The 1964 seniors also had four league titles (two outright in 1961 and ’62) to go with two NCAA title game appearances those same years. The 1992 veterans had two Big Ten titles (one shared) and made three NCAA tournament appearances. To date, Butler and Terwilliger have back-to-back outright league championships and two NCAA tournament appearances, including an NCAA title game experience and school-record 35 wins a year ago.

Total Wins 4-year Career *Seniors
103 2005-08 Jamar Butler. Matt Terwilliger
98 1960-63# Richard Reasbeck, Douglas McDonald
89 1961-64# Donald Flatt, LeRoy Frazier, Donald DeVoe, Gary Bradds
89 1989-92 Jamaal Brown, Steve Hall, Chris Jent, Bill Robinson

#Freshmen were not eligible during period
*4-year players in Ohio State program (Freshman and Varsity rosters)

Ohio State recruit B.J. Mullens was named the Ohio Gatorade Player of the Year last week. The 7-1 center, the first player to commit to the Buckeyes after Thad Matta and his staff took over the program in the summer of 2004, averaged more than 25 points and 15 rebounds during his senior season at Canal Winchester (Ohio) High School.

Two future Ohio State men’s basketball student-athletes were named to the 2008 McDonald’s All-America squads Feb. 27. William Buford and B.J. Mullens represented Ohio State and the nation’s top high school recruits March 26 at the Bradley Center in Milwaukee, Wis. Buford, who will be a freshman guard for the Buckeyes next year, played for the East team. He scored six points for the victorious East squad (107-102). The 6-5 guard, who was named Ohio State Mr. Basketball, played for Libbey High School in Toledo, Ohio, the state runner-up in Division II. Mullens, a 7-1 center from Canal Winchester (Ohio) High School, represented the West. Mullens, who was the runner up in Ohio’s Mr. Basketball balloting, also signed with the Buckeyes last November and will be a freshman next season. He had 12 points in the loss. Both Mullens and Buford were First Team All-Ohio selections.

Thad Matta, Ohio State head coach, has added a total of five McDonald’s All-Americans to the Buckeye men’s basketball program in his four years in Columbus. Twelve past and future 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 last April. Ivan Harris, Greg Oden, Mike Conley Jr., and Daequan Cook, all former McDonald’s All-Americans, played for the Buckeyes last season. Clark Kellogg (1979), Perry Carter (1987), Treg Lee (1987), Jim Jackson (1989), Charles Macon (1992) and Greg Simpson (1992) 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.

With 1,277 career points, senior Jamar Butler stands in the No. 24 spot on the all-time scoring list at Ohio State. He scored 20 points vs. California March 24 at St. John Arena in round two of the NIT and added 12 in the quarterfinals vs. Dayton last Wednesday. He is just eight points back from No. 23 Clark Kellogg (1,285 points, 1980-82).

Senior Jamar Butler set the career assist record at Ohio State with six helpers at Northwestern Feb. 13. At the 2 minute, 52 second mark of the second half, Butler fed freshman Jon Diebler for a 3-pointer that put Ohio State up 57-42. The bucket was Butler’s sixth assist of the game and No. 517 of his career (569). Kelvin Ransey (1977-80) is No. 2 with 516.

Butler has connected on 235 career 3-pointers to own the Ohio State record for made 3s in a career as well. He passed Brent Darby (2000-03) and Scoonie Penn (1999-2000) with a 4-of-8 effort from long range against VMI Nov. 25. Butler ranks No. 1 all-time in 3-pointers attempted (632) and No. 8 in career 3-point shooting percentage (235-632/.372). He also holds the single season record for made 3-pointers at Ohio State with 97.

Senior Jamar Butler scored a game-high 21 points at Michigan State Jan. 15 to reach 1,000 career points as a Buckeye (1,277). He became the 43rd Ohio State men’s basketball player to reach the milestone. Brent Darby was the last guard to reach 1,000 points for the Buckeyes. He did so from 2000-03 and stands No. 21 on the all-time scoring list with 1,368 career points. Butler moved to the No. 24 spot in career scoring at Ohio State with 21 in the recent matchup with UNC Asheville. Next up is No. 23 Clark Kellogg (1980-82) with 1,285.

Butler made the first four foul shots against Minnesota Jan. 26 before a miss ended a school-record streak at 38-consecutive foul shots. It broke the Ohio State record for consecutive makes set by Sean Connolly as a sophomore (25) in 2000-01. Butler has currently made 22-consecutive foul shots after a miss at Minnesota.

Butler’s Made FT Streak

Coppin State (12/10/07) 1-2*
Presbyterian (12/15/07) 1-1
Cleveland State (12/18/07) 0-0
Florida (12/22/07) 2-2
UMBC (12/29/07) 9-9
at Illinois (1/3/08) 8-8
Northwestern (1/6/08) 0-0
Iowa (1/9/08) 0-0
at Purdue (1/12/08) 4-4
at Michigan State (1/15/08) 6-6
at Tennessee (1/19/08) 3-3
Illinois (1/22/08) 0-0
Minnesota (1/26/08) 5-7#

*Made second attempt // # missed fifth attempt

No Ohio State men’s basketball coach had won 20+ games in each of the first four years as head coach until Thad Matta accomplished the feat with the win vs. UNC Asheville last week. Of the 13 head coaches in Ohio State history, nine have recorded tenures of four or more years. Only Fred Taylor (1959-76) won 20 or more games in four-consecutive years (1960-63/25, 27, 26, 20, respectively). Matta’s teams won 20 games in 2005, 26 in 2006, 35 a season ago and are 22-13 with at least one game remaining this season.

Thad Matta has guided the Buckeyes to 103 victories in 138 games at Ohio State. In eight 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 four at Ohio State (20, 26, 35, 22). He has averaged 25 wins over his career for a total of 205 after a 74-53 win vs. Dayton last Wednesday. With 22 wins to date this season he has eclipsed the 200 mark for his career and reached 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).

Senior Jamar Butler rates No. 1 nationally in free throw percentage at 94.2 percent (81-86). As a team, Ohio State is No. 11 defensively in field goal percentage defense (.389) and rates No. 5 in fewest personal fouls committed per game (14.3).

As a head coach, Thad Matta’s teams have played in the NCAA tournament in six of eight years. The 2004-05 Ohio State team, Matta’s first in Columbus, was held out of the event by the university but nonetheless finished with a 20-12 record and a win over No. 1 and previously unbeaten Illinois in the regular season finale. In six seasons as an assistant coach, Matta was part of five NCAA tournament appearances at Miami (Ohio), Western Carolina and Butler. The 1998-99 Butler squad played in the postseason NIT, advancing to the second round.

When it comes to conference tournaments, Matta’s teams regularly play in the title game. As an assistant, Matta helped Western Carolina to the Southern Conference title in 1996 and Butler to the Mid-Western Collegiate Conference championship in 1998 and 2000. As a head coach, Butler won the MCC in 2001 with Matta at the helm. Xavier won the Atlantic 10 in 2002 and 2004 and in four chances at Ohio State, Matta has directed the Buckeyes to the title game twice, winning the 2007 event. Matta has been associated with nine regular-season conference champions, including five as a head coach.

The Buckeyes have had at least one player record a double-double in 12 games this season and are 9-3 in those games. Ohio State is 528-250 alltime when a player records any combination of 10 or more points, rebounds, assists, steals or blocks. Ohio State is 128-51 in games when at least two Buckeyes manage a double-double (3x this year vs. Northwestern, UMBC and Tennessee) and 14-1 when three Buckeyes do so in a single game (once this year vs. UMBC). Senior Jamar Butler handed out 11 assists and grabbed a career-high 10 rebounds in the Northwestern win Jan. 6 (62-51). It is the first time an Ohio State player recorded a double-double without scoring 10 or more points. According to Stats, Inc., Butler’s double-double without scoring a point has not been done in Division I since the 1996-97 season.

In four seasons at Ohio State, Thad Matta’s Buckeyes have had at least one player record a double-double in 51 games. Ohio State is 43-8 in those games, including victories in 33 of the last 38. Two players managed double-doubles in a single game four times (vs. Davidson in 2006 in the opening round of the NCAA tournament when J.J. Sullinger (13 pts./13 rebs.) and Terence Dials (19/13) led Ohio State to a 70-62 victory and this season against Northwestern (Jan. 6) when freshman Kosta Koufos (17/12) and Jamar Butler (11 assts./10 rebs.) helped secure the victory (61-52); at Tennessee (Othello Hunter 17 pts./14 rebs; Evan Turner (21/10) and at Michigan (Koufos 18/11; and Turner 16/11). Ohio State had a rare outing vs. UMBC earlier this year when three Buckeyes (Hunter, 13/10; Butler, 22/12 assts.; Koufos, 22/12) recorded double-doubles in the same game, a feat accomplished just 15 times in OSU history (14-1 record).

Jamar Butler turned in one of the better individual performances in Ohio State history with his 32 points, a career high, at Illinois Jan. 3 in a 74-58 Ohio State victory. He scored 15-consecutive points in the second half to turn an Ohio State deficit (37-36) into an insurmountable lead (51-39). Butler’s 15-consecutive points scored in a game are the most since Michael Redd scored 17-consecutive points in a 30-point effort at Wisconsin Jan. 2, 1999, a 78-74 Ohio State victory. Butler followed the Illinois effort with an 11-assist, 10 rebound double-double in the home win (62-51) vs. Northwestern Jan. 6.

Jamar Butler is the first Ohio State guard to reach 500 assists (569/school record), 200 made 3s (235/school record) and 100 steals (133). He reached 1,000 career points (1,277) and became Ohio State’s 43rd player in the 1,000-point club with a 21-point effort at Michigan State Jan. 15. He currently is No. 24 all-time in career scoring.

Thad Matta, now in his fourth season as head coach of the Buckeyes, has an overall win percentage of .746 (103-35) after 138 games at Ohio State. 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 45-21 record in Big Ten regular-season play (.682) 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.

The contest was the first matchup between Dayton and Ohio State since the teams faced off Dec., 17, 1988 in Columbus. The Buckeyes won the match up 104-76.
Overall, OSU is 4-2 against the Flyers and 30-13 overall against the Atlantic-10.
The attendance was 19,049, marking the 11th sellout crowd for Ohio State this season, including a sellout March 24 in St. John Arena (13,276). The Buckeyes are 8-3 in sellouts this year and 47-10 all-time in VCA sellouts.
The Buckeyes are 3-2 all-time in NIT third-round games. Overall, Ohio State is 16-7 in the NIT.
In his career, Ohio State head coach Thad Matta is 8-1 against Dayton but this was his first meeting with Dayton while coaching the Buckeyes.
The Buckeyes have won 50-consecutive games against unranked opponents in Columbus (47 in Value City Arena, two in St. John Arena and one in Nationwide Arena). Their last loss to an unranked team was vs. Minnesota, Jan. 19, 2005 (60-56 OT).
Under Matta, OSU is 59-1 against unranked opponents in Columbus, including a 55-1 mark in VCA, 3-0 in St. John Arena and 1-0 in Nationwide Arena.
The game Wednesday was the latest date (March 26) the Buckeyes have played in a home arena in a season. The game also is the latest the Buckeyes have played in the state of Ohio since April, 6 1900, the second season of the OSU basketball program. That game was played at Mount Union University in Alliance, Ohio, in which the Buckeyes lost, 10-6.
During the postseason NIT the Buckeyes are shooting 53.3-percent (90-of-169) from the field.
The Buckeyes grabbed the lead in the second half, building on a run started at the end of the first half. With 1:04 left in the first, the Buckeyes trailed 31-26 but turned that deficit into a 49-37 lead with a 23-6 run that ended at 11:54 of the second half with back-to-back 3-point baskets from Jamar Butler and freshman Jon Diebler. The run was started in the first half on free throws from senior Matt Terwilliger and sophomore P.J. Hill. In the second half alone the run was 19-6.
Senior Jamar Butler had seven assists to increase his total to 209 assists this season. He is only the second Buckeye to have 200 or more assists in a season, along with Mike Conley Jr. (2006-07 season), who holds the record with 238.
The seven assists marked the 23rd time this season Butler handed out five or more assists. During his time at Ohio State, the Buckeyes are 56-17 when he records at least four assists.
Terwilliger scored four points and Ohio State improved to 33-1 when he scores at least four points.
Butler scored 12 points to increase his career scoring to 1,277 career points, good for 24th place all-time in the Ohio State records. No. 23 on the list is Clark Kellogg (1980-82) with 1,285.
Butler did not go to the free-throw line for the third-consecutive game as his made FT streak remained at 22.
The win for the Buckeyes is their 17th on the season at home for the second-most in school history, trailing only the 18 wins a season ago. The 35 home wins over the past two seasons is the best two-year total in school history.
All 13 Buckeyes who dressed for the game saw playing time for the third-consecutive game.
Kosta Koufos had double-digit points for the 17th time in the last 18 games with 21 points on 9-of-11 shooting. It was his fifth game of the season with 20 or more points.
Four Buckeyes scored in double figures for the fourth time in five games. Koufos led the team with 21 points, followed by Butler (12), Evan Turner (11) and Diebler (10).

Eleven Ohio State men’s basketball games sold out for the 2007-08 season with crowds of 19,049: North Carolina, Florida, Illinois, Minnesota, Michigan, Indiana, Wisconsin, Purdue, Michigan State, Dayton and California (13,276 at St. John Arena).

Ohio State opponents North Carolina (No. 1 in ESPN/USA Today and No. 1 in the AP polls), Tennessee (6/5), Indiana (24/RV), Michigan State (20/18), Wisconsin (5/6), Butler (10/11) and Purdue (18/20) give the Buckeyes one of the strongest schedules nationally.

Upper Sandusky (Ohio) High School retired the No. 23 during ceremonies Dec. 8 to honor star guard Jon Diebler, a freshman on the Ohio State men’s basketball team. Diebler led the nation in scoring as a senior in 2006-07 with 41 points a game. He owns the career-scoring record in the state of Ohio with 3,208 career points.

Kosta Koufos, a freshman forward from Canton, Ohio, led Ohio State to a 2-1 record the week of Nov. 26, which included a win over No. 21 Syracuse at Madison Square Garden in New York. Koufos averaged 18.7 points, 9.3 rebounds and recorded six blocks for the Buckeyes to earn Big Ten Player of the Week honors. He set a career high with 24 points against the Orange and then recorded his first-career double-double with 22 points and 14 rebounds in a home victory over VMI at St. John Arena Nov. 26. Koufos connected on 50 percent of his shots from the field for the week and hit 69 percent (9-13) against the Keydets.

Freshman Kosta Koufos averaged 17 points and 7.0 rebounds in the two NIT Season Tip-Off games in New York. The 7-0 forward also blocked four shots and made 3-of-5 3-pointers. Butler, a preseason All-Big Ten selection, averaged 15.5 points while knocking down 55 percent of his 3-point attempts (6-11). He scored 13-consecutive points for the Buckeyes in the first half vs. Texas A&M Nov. 23 and led the team at the event with seven assists and four steals. Both Koufos and Butler were named to the all-tournament team.

Ohio State is 3-3 in preseason NIT appearances after the pair of victories in Columbus Nov. 12-13 and a split in New York (Nov. 21, 23) to open the 2007 season. The Buckeyes first participated in 1989. DePaul downed Ohio State Nov. 15, 1989, 71-53. Ohio University defeated the Buckeyes 78-67 in Ohio State’s last appearance (Nov. 16, 1994).

In an 11-day stretch starting with the NIT Season Tip-Off games in New York, Ohio State’s roster of 13 players played in three of the most storied venues in college basketball history. The NIT games were played in Madison Square Garden, tabbed the world’s most famous arena and the host of countless college basketball games. The Buckeyes next played in St. John Arena, the home of Ohio State basketball from 1956-57 to 1997-98. St. John has hosted 580 Ohio State men’s basketball games in which the Buckeyes have won 429 (.740 winning pct.). After playing No. 1 North Carolina Nov. 28 in Ohio State’s current home, Value City Arena, the Buckeyes took on No. 16 Butler at Hinkle Fieldhouse in Indianapolis. The facility was used to film the movie “Hoosiers” and has been the home court for the Bulldogs since 1928.

Kyle Madsen, a sophomore from Dublin, Ohio, played in a game Nov. 12 that counted for the first time 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 Nov. 12-13 in the opening rounds of the NIT Season Tip-Off and scored a career best six points vs. Texas A&M in the finals.

More than 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 65 home wins in the last four years under Thad Matta, including a school-record 18-0 campaign a year ago.

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.