Date: Dec. 1, 2007
Opp: No. 16 Butler (6-0)
Site: Hinkle Fieldhouse (10,000)
Game Time: 7:30 p.m. ET
TV Talent: Anthony Calhoun (P-by-P), Larry Conley (Expert Analysis)
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)
Sirius Radio: Ch. 110
Alma Mater Awaits Matta
Thad Matta played for three seasons (1988-90) at Butler University following a transfer from Southern Illinois University after his freshman season in 1985-86. Following his playing career, Matta also worked as an administrative assistant for three seasons at his alma mater from 1992-94 before taking an assistant position for another three years from 1998-2000. His first year as a head coach was with the Bulldogs during the 2000-01 campaign. Butler won the Mid-Continent Conference title and postseason tournament championship that season. The team advanced to the second round of the NCAA tournament and finished with a 24-8 record. Matta then left Indianapolis for Xavier where he coached for three seasons before taking over the Ohio State program in 2004-05.
John Groce, Ohio State’s associate head coach, was an assistant coach with Matta at Butler during the 2000-01 season.
Buckeyes Battle 5-Game Grind
Ohio State is in a stretch of playing five games over a span of 11 days. It started with the semifinals of the Dick’s Sporting Goods NIT Season Tip-Off against No. 21 Syracuse Nov. 21 and No. 16 Texas A&M Nov. 23. The Buckeyes hurried home for the Sunday game against VMI before playing host to No. 1 North Carolina Wednesday in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge. The Buckeyes travel to Indianapolis for a Saturday game at No. 16 Butler before a break for final exams Dec. 3-7.
Playing four teams ranked in the AP Top 25 in a span of five games is the first in regular season play for the Buckeyes since the 1993 Big Ten season when Ohio State took on No. 22 Iowa, No. 23 Michigan State, No. 2 Indiana and No. 5 Michigan from Jan. 9 to Jan. 26. Wisconsin was the unranked team played during that stretch. The Buckeyes played four-consecutive Top 25 teams during the 2007 NCAA Tournament. Ohio State defeated No. 22 Tennessee, No. 5 Memphis and No. 9 Georgetown before falling to No. 6 Florida in the national title game.
Butler Sets Ohio State Record
Senior Jamar Butler has connected on 159 career 3-pointers and owns the Ohio State record for made 3s in a career. 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. 3 all-time in 3-pointers attempted (426) and No. 8 in career 3-point shooting percentage (159-426/.373). He also is moving up the career assist charts. He is currently No. 7 with 389, 12 behind No. 6 Larry Bolden (1974-77/401).
Koufos Earns First POW in Big Ten
Kosta Koufos, a freshman forward from Canton, Ohio, led Ohio State to a 2-1 record last week, including 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 Sunday. Koufos connected on 50 percent of his shot from the field for the week and hit 69 percent (9-13) against the Keydets. He has scored in double figures in each of Ohio State’s five games to date.
Koufos, Butler Lead Way in NIT, Named to All-Tournament Team
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 last Friday and led the team at the event with seven assists and four steals. Both Koufos and Butler were named to the all-tournament team.
Young Buckeyes Experience Historic Venues
In an 11-day stretch starting with the NIT Season Tip-Off games in New York, Ohio State’s roster of 13 players play 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 579 Ohio State men’s basketball games in which the Buckeyes won 428 (.739 winning pct.). After playing No. 1 North Carolina Wednesday in Ohio State’s new home, Value City Arena, the Buckeyes take 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.
Noting the UNC Game
Ohio State recognized the passing of Buckeye great Bill Willis before the start of the game Wednesday. Willis, who played football for the Buckeyes from 1942-44, recently had his No. 99 jersey retired during a ceremony at the Ohio State-Wisconsin game Nov. 3. Willis helped the Buckeyes to their first national championship in 1942 and became the program’s first African-American All-American, earning first-team honors in 1943 and ’44.
The Jerome Schottenstein Center unveiled its $500,000 facility upgrade, which includes a new scorer’s table and lighting features to enhance the fans’ experience.
The matchup against North Carolina marked Ohio State’s first sellout at Value City Arena in the 2007-08 season. The crowd of 19,049 marks the largest crowd in VCA since the March 6 contest against Illinois that attracted in 19,200 spectators. In addition to UNC, games against Florida, Indiana, Wisconsin and Michigan State have been sold out.
Ohio State’s record at VCA when the facility is sold out is 39-8. The Buckeyes are 18-2 in the last 20 sold out games.
The game Wednesday marked the sixth-consecutive year the Buckeyes have participated in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge and holds a 1-5 record.
Ohio State has won six of its last eight games against teams ranked No. 1 in the nation.
Head coach Thad Matta holds a record of 53-4 in Columbus and a 50-4 mark at VCA in four years, including a school-record 18-0 campaign in 2006-07.
At the helm of the Buckeyes, Matta is 36-6 in regular-season nonconference games. North Carolina leads the all-time series with Ohio State, 9-2, winning the last four meetings. Against the ACC, the Buckeyes hold a 33-25 mark and lead the all-time series vs. Florida State, Georgia Tech, Maryland, Virginia and Wake Forest.
Ohio State has held its opponents to 70 or fewer points in 36 of its last 44 games.
Ohio State led 32-29 at halftime Wednesday. The Buckeyes have won 36 of their last 39 games when leading at halftime and is 73-9 when leading at the halfway mark under Matta.
The Buckeyes attempted 33 field goals from behind the arc during the matchup with UNC, which ranks as the fifth-most in OSU history, only three shy of the record set against Florida A&M Jan. 30, 2006 with 36 attempted treys.
In the first 6:43 minutes of play, David Lighty connected to score all of Ohio State’s six points, tying his career-high in made 3-pointers with two. In addition, the 6-5 sophomore pulled down a career-best nine rebounds.
In the game, Ohio State and North Carolina exchanged and tied the lead seven times.
Jon Diebler entered into halftime with four 3s, leading the Buckeyes in scoring with 12 points. The freshman from Upper Sandusky, Ohio, hit for a career-high 19 points, connecting on a personal-best 5-of-14 treys and seven field goals.
Ohio State ended the first half on a 9-2 run giving the Buckeyes a 32-29 ledger at halftime.
Jamar Butler added two more treys to up the school record in career-made 3-pointers to 159. The senior from Lima, Ohio, coveted the Buckeye all-time record after making 4-of-8 3s in the win against VMI Sunday.
Butler dished out five assists in the contest for a career 389, good for seventh on the all-time career list. The senior is only 12 helpers behind No. 6 Larry Bolden (1974-77/401) on the career assist chart. During his tenure at Ohio State, the Buckeyes are 41-8 when Butler has four or more assists.
Butler has scored 10 or more points in all six of Ohio State’s games this season.
Senior Othello Hunter tallied a career-high in blocks, stopping six of UNC’s attempts.
Noting The All-Time Series
Ohio State leads the all-time series with the Bulldogs 30-8. The series dates to the 1924-25 season with Ohio State winning in Columbus Dec. 31, 1924. Ohio State is 11-7 at Butler. The teams last played Nov. 22, 2005 in Columbus, a 79-69 Ohio State overtime victory. The Buckeyes have not played at Butler since 1978, an 87-86 Bulldog victory. Ohio State has already played one Horizon League team this season, a 91-68 vs. Green Bay.
Ohio State vs. The Horizon League
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 (19,049), 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 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 3-3 in preseason NIT appearances after the pair of victories in Columbus Nov. 12-13 and a split in New York 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 Nov. 16, 1994 in Ohio State’s last appearance.
Madsen Ready for Game Action
Kyle Madsen, a sophomore from Dublin, Ohio, played in a game that counts 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.
Opponents Ranked High in Preseason
North Carolina (No. 2 in ESPN/USA Today and No. 1 in the AP polls), Texas A&M (9/9), Tennessee (12/11), Michigan State (13/10) and Indiana (15/15), Butler (16/16) and Wisconsin (20/20) all are ranked among the Top 25 teams in both polls. Other teams receiving votes for Top 25 consideration on the Buckeye schedule are Florida, Syracuse 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).
Buckeyes Succeed in Return to St. John Arena
Ohio State played 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 faced Virginia Military Institute 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 428-151 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.
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.
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.
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 Webb played for the Chaparrals. Hill 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 108 games as a Buckeye, Butler owns 389 career assists and is on pace to become a 1,000-point scorer (854 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 85 victories in 109 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 three at Ohio State (20, 26, 35). He has averaged 26 wins over his career for a total of 187. 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).
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.
Tennessee, North Carolina, Syracuse, Texas A&M and Florida are certain opponents for the Ohio State Buckeyes in 2007-08. Add 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.