The Buckeyes (7-0), who will be facing Western Carolina for the first time in school history, will try to bounce back from a subpar performance in Thursday night’s 75-64 win over the IUPUI Jaguars at their regular home, the Schottenstein Center. Ohio State looked a bit rusty after a nine-day layoff, but turned up the defensive pressure in the second half in winning its fifth home game of the season.
Freshman sensation Jared Sullinger is coming off his record-setting 40-point performance against IUPUI on Thursday night, shattering Michael Redd’s 13-year old OSU frosh mark of 30. Sullinger averages 18.1 points per outing to pace the Buckeye attack, and his 9.9 rebounds per game also lead Ohio State. Senior forward David Lighty chips in 13.4 points per game. Five Buckeyes average double figures in scoring. Ohio State will be playing the second of seven consecutive home games. The Buckeyes won’t venture outside Columbus until a New Year’s Eve visit to Indiana to open the Big Ten schedule.
Western Carolina (4-7, 0-2 in the Southern Conference) will be playing its fourth of seven consecutive road games, looking to end a three-game skid. Friday night the Catamounts lost 73-50 at Campbell, falling to 2-5 on the road this season.
Senior guard Mike Williams leads the Catamounts in scoring, averaging 15.3 points per game, but the Baton Rouge, LA native was held to just two points by the Fighting Camels on Friday. He also leads Western Carolina in assists (37) and steals (22). Senior forward Richie Gordon adds 8.8 points per game and leads Western Carolina in rebounds, with 5.3 per contest.
This would appear to be a mismatch on paper, but the game is played on hardwood, and the Buckeyes found out Thursday that an off night against any opponent can be troublesome.
Notes: Buckeye fans in the area can get a holiday bargain, as the university has announced ‘throwback’ ticket prices as low as $10 at the door for this game…Ohio State is 9-4 all-time against teams from the Southern Conference, with three of those losses coming to Davidson…Located in Cullowhee, NC, Western Carolina will be the third Ohio State opponent from the Tar Heel State in the first eight games this season (North Carolina A&T, UNC Wilmington), and the Buckeyes will play UNC Ashville later this month…Ohio State can equal its best start under Thad Matta (11-0 in 2005-06) with four more victories. The next four Buckeyes opponents are Western Carolina, Florida Gulf Coast, South Carolina and UNC Ashville. Of the four, only South Carolina (6-1) has a winning record…Senior guard Jon Diebler needs three 3-point field goals to tie former Indiana Hoosier A.J. Guyton for seventh on the Big Ten’s all-time list, with 283. Diebler has made at least one 3-point field goal in 23 consecutive games and needs 53 more (about two per game) to tie Penn State’s Pete Lisicki for the most in conference history.