The game against Indiana’s premiere urban university kicks off December play: the time when OSU takes on a series of unranked (and sometimes unheard of) teams in preparation for Big Ten match-ups.
The Buckeyes (6-0) are coming off a 58-44 win over Florida State in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge. Also, earlier this week, Jared Sullinger landed Big Ten Freshman of the Week honors for the third time this season.
What to expect
IUPUI may be 4-5, but their record isn’t anything to be taken with a grain of salt. Already, the Jaguars have faced two top-25 teams: No. 12 Gonzaga and No. 25 San Diego State. While they lost to both by more than 15 points, their other three losses were decided in the final minutes. In each of those games the deficit was 2 points or less. The Jags’ last game against Oral Roberts ended in a 65-63 loss, thanks to ORU’s Warren Niles game-winning layup with .2 left on the clock. Leaders for IUPUI are junior Alex Young and senior Leroy Nobles. Young averages 17.2 points per game, while Nobles yields 16.3. Both entered the 1000 point club earlier this season.
What’s important this time around
The Buckeyes put up 93 points in the rematch against Florida, but lately, they’ve barely gotten past 60.
Many would argue that because the early-season schedule is far from top tier, there’s no reason OSU needs to exert any extra energy. Yes, it’s important for this veteran squad to stay healthy, but one thing a team doesn’t want to do is play down to their opponent by getting sloppy. I remember listening to the Miami of Ohio game on my drive to Columbus for OSU/TSUN festivities and assuming the Bucks were all coming off turkey hangovers. At halftime, neither team had gotten to 30 points, and every other shot seemed like a miss. If the Bucks want fans to remain interested during this “slow period,” and keep their Big Ten rivals on their toes, they have to match their powerful defense with an offense that’s equally terrifying.
During the Florida State game, both teams shot less than 40%, yet the Buckeyes came out on top, making it clear they aren’t a team that’s going to back down easily. However, David Lighty, OSU’s leading scorer, is only averaging 14.7 points per game. I’m not saying this is unimpressive; they’re winning games (unlike my Cleveland Cavaliers), and, at the end of the day, the amount of “W’s” is all that really matters. But, I would hate to see down-time December translate into anything less than a no-loss new year.