The Buckeyes are 11-0 all-time against the Big South Conference, while UNCA is symmetrically 0-11 all-time against the Big Ten. Ohio State is 4-0 on the current seven-game home stand and 8-0 at home overall, while UNCA is just 2-5 on the road this season. The Bulldogs have won two straight games, although against dubious competition in NAIA private school, Montreat College (86-57), and Division II foe, King College (90-72).
OSU forward Jared Sullinger, fresh off of his fifth Big Ten Freshman of the Week award – and there is no truth to the rumor that this will henceforth be known as the Jared Sullinger Award for Awesomeness – leads the Buckeye attack with 18.5 points per game, and is also the team’s leading rebounder, grabbing 9.6 per outing. Senior guard Jon Diebler is second in scoring, at 13 points per game, and is shooting nearly 50% from beyond the 3-point line. “Threebler” needs just six more 3-pointers to equal Dee Brown (Illinois) for sixth on the all-time Big Ten list.
As if the Bulldogs didn’t have enough to worry about with Sullinger leading Ohio State’s inside game and Diebler drilling treys from the Short North, they still have junior guard William Buford (12.3 points per game), senior guard/forward David Lighty (11.6) and freshman forward Deshaun Thomas (10.2) to deal with. And on the defensive end, they’ve always got to be aware of shot-blocking center Dallas Lauderdale. The senior is swatting 2.5 shots per game, while chipping in 5.2 points and 5.4 rebounds.
Junior guards Matt Dickey (16.7 points per game) and J.P. Primm (16.5) pace the Bulldogs in scoring. Dickey and Primm also lead a defense that is sixth in the nation in steals per game (10.8), so the Buckeyes will have to be careful with the basketball. Sophomore center D.J. Cunningham (11.4) also averages double figures offensively, and pulls down a team-high 9.7 rebounds per game as well. At 6-foot-10, Cunningham possesses the size to go up against Ohio State’s big men, and the native of Waterford, OH, will want to perform well upon his return to the Buckeye state.
Notes: Tonight’s game will be broadcast on the Big Ten Network…The Bulldogs are 0-2 against ranked opponents this season, falling at #25 North Carolina (80-69) and at #16 Georgetown (87-72)…Lauderdale has 184 career blocks for Ohio State, and needs just three more to tie Brad Sellers for third on the Buckeyes’ all-time list…Lighty is scheduled to make his 99th career start for Ohio State. He has participated in 105 Buckeye victories, leaving him just six wins shy of having the most in school history.