In a competitive match-up between the Ohio State Buckeyes and the Minnesota Golden Golphers, Ohio State came out on top with great play by Evan Turner and true Freshman William Buford. Minnesota made several runs to take an early lead and to pull within 3 at the half, but Ohio State was able to stifle the Golphers with their defense and make enough shots from mid-range and beyond the 3 point line to pull out the victory.
By Steve Patterson
After early wins against Miami (FL), Notre Dame and Butler. And now recent wins against ranked teams Purdue and Minnesota, Ohio State should have clearly made their case for inclusion in the NCAA tournament. If they can win the games they are supposed to win to finish out their Big Ten schedule, they will finish 22-7 and be ranked in the top 4 of the league. The noly thing left to consider for Ohio State at this point is bringing back forward David Lighty for March Madness or red-shirting him and saving a year of eligibility.
Tuning Up Their Play
The Buckeyes have clearly made a number of moves and improved their play from the first time they met Minnesota and fell to them 68-59. The team has improved their point guard play, increased their points in the paint, and gotten into a rotation that allows them to stay in games and make runs when needed. Moving Evan Turner to the point guard position when PJ Hill is on the floor has allowed the team to have the ball in their best players hands early in the shot clock and allowed more quick baskets before their opponent's defense is set. At the same time, Hill is able to guard the opponents point guard aggressively on the other end of the court.
The increased minutes for BJ Mullens and the improved focus by Turner, Buford, Jeremie Simmons, and Jon Diebler to drive to the rim has improved the teams shooting percentage and created passing opportunities that were not available when the team was more reliant on outside shooting. Finally, Coach Thad Matta has begun to regularly rotate offense for defense at the end of halfs to improve the teams play. Hill and Dallas Lauderdale are substituted in for defense and Simmons and Mullens are substituted in for offense quite often.