North Carolina (7-3) vs. Ohio State (9-1)
Chicago, Ill. - United Center
Saturday, 1:00 p.m.
CBS (Verne Lundquist, Greg Anthony)
“They are a tremendous basketball team. Their size is something that Carolina has always had. I think one of the biggest things I’ve noticed is their ability to do interior passing. They do a great job at that. They are going to try to pound the ball inside on us and we are going to have to do a great job with that.” – Ohio State head coach Thad Matta
"They really do a good job of guys shooting shots that they can make. And they have good shooters. That was like us in '09 and '90, which were the two best shooting clubs that I ever had. Everybody could shoot, and they took good shots, too, because they knew their limitations. So it's a little bit of both. It's a challenge playing them because, man, they shoot the ball so well and they turn you over.
Season to Date: No. 12 Ohio State enters Saturday’s contest with a 9-1 record. The Buckeyes’ soft early season schedule resulted in double-digit margins in all nine victories against the likes of Sacred Heart, Campbell, Colgate, High Point and North Carolina A&T. Thad Matta’s squad lost its lone game against a ranked opponent with a 64-55 defeat at then-No. 5 Louisville.
Rookie Punch: Freshman guard D’Angelo Russell wasted little time in establishing his scoring presence on the OSU roster. The 6-foot-5, 180-pounder leads the Buckeyes in scoring with 18.0 points per contest, while also rounding out his game with 5.2 assists and 4.4 rebounds per contest. The 2014 McDonald’s All-American is shooting 47.8 percent from the floor and 43.1 percent from long range. He’s also connecting on 84.8 percent of his free throw attempts. Russell is currently the No. 2 scoring freshman in the country and was named Big Ten Freshman of the Week on Dec. 8.
Scoring the Ball: Ohio State’s schedule – ranked 329th nationally by kenpom.com – has played a role in its ability to post gaudy offensive statistics, but credit is still due. According to kenpom.com, the Buckeyes rank third nationally in effective field goal percentage (60.3), sixth in 2-point field goal percentage (59.1) and 14th in 3-point field goal percentage (41.8). Of the 10 Buckeyes that have attempted a shot this season, seven are shooting above 53.0 percent and nine of 10 are shooting above 46 percent. Those numbers would be even more impressive had it not been for a 30.4 percent shooting effort in the loss at Louisville.
Old & Young: Matta’s 11th team in Columbus boasts a rather unique roster breakdown. Six Buckeyes are at least in their fourth year of eligibility while five others are in their first year. The four-man senior class of Scott, Sam Thompson, Amir Williams and Trey McDonald has 120 career wins, which ranks third all-time in school history and is nine short of tying David Lighty’s career record.
Dishing it Out: Senior guard Shannon Scott ranks fourth nationally with 7.3 assists per game, although his assist total has dropped significantly over the last seven games. The Alpharetta, Ga. native – and son of former Tar Heel great Charlie Scott - dished out 41 assists in the first three contests, but has managed just 37 since then. One aspect of his game that hasn’t let up is his ability to create turnovers. Scott has 30 steals on the season and he’s notched at least one in 37 of his last 38 games, including all 10 games this season.
Last Meeting: No. 6 North Carolina defeated No. 15 Ohio State, 77-73, in the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic at Madison Square Garden on Nov. 19, 2009. Deon Thompson led the Tar Heels with 15 points and 12 rebounds, while Will Graves added 14 points and five rebounds. UNC shot 49.1 percent from the floor and 46.7 percent from 3-point range. The Buckeyes, who trailed by 14 at halftime, shot 42.6 percent for the game.
Series History:UNC leads the all-time series with OSU, 10-2, and have won five straight.
3 Shannon Scott (6-1, 185, Sr.) - 8.1 ppg, 7.8 apg
0 D’Angelo Russell (6-5, 180, Fr.) - 18.0 ppg, 5.2 apg
2 Marc Loving (6-7, 215, So.) - 11.3 ppg, 56.7% 3FG
12 Sam Thompson (6-7, 200, Sr.) - 10.2 ppg, 4.4 rpg
23 Amir Williams (6-11, 250, Sr.) - 7.9 ppg, 5.7 rpg
1 Ja’Sean Tate (6-4, 190, Fr.) - 6.4 ppg, 4.8 rpg
15 Kam Williams (6-2, 175, Fr.) - 9.8 ppg, 44.4% 3FG
31 Anthony Lee (6-9, 230, Sr.) - 5.0 ppg, 3.0 rpg
33 Keita Bates-Diop (6-7, 190, Fr.) - 4.6 ppg, 2.5 rpg
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