Previewing Ohio State

After three low-level opponents, the young Tar Heels face their first tough test of the 2009-10 season: No. 15-ranked Ohio State. The game is expected to tip-off Thursday around 9:15 p.m. at Madison Square Garden and will be televised by ESPN2.

North Carolina (3-0) vs. Ohio State (2-0)
New York, N.Y. - Madison Square Garden
9:15, ESPN2 (Dan Shulman, Dick Vitale, Bob Knight, Doris Burke)

Quotables

"You're going to have the ball in the hands of the guy that handles it most of the time, which is your point guard. And what decisions, what options are you going to give him? An option for the last four years was to throw the ball to Tyler [Hansbrough]. An option the last three years was if you can't throw the ball to Tyler and you can't penetrate, you have Wayne [Ellington] or Danny [Green] on the wing. And so we don't have any of those proven scorers… It's going to be interesting to see who can do it when the defense is aimed to stop you." – Roy Williams on who would possibly take the last shot of a close game

"Just because Evan plays the point doesn't mean you have to play him with your point guard, because he doesn't play the point exclusively during the game. He's one of the few players I've seen in the course of one game to play the 1, 2, 3 and 4… Everybody on our perimeter and possibly even one of our post guys will end up guarding Evan. They do present some real matchup difficulties for us." – Roy Williams on defending OSU's 6-foot-7 point guard Evan Turner

PREGAME NOTES

Season to Date: No. 15 Ohio State enters Thursday's contest with a 2-0 record. The Buckeyes defeated Alcorn St. (100-60) and James Madison (74-44) in the opening rounds of the 2K Sports Classic benefiting Coaches vs. Cancer. OSU is connecting on 49.6 percent of its field goal attempts, while holding its opponents to 32.7 percent shooting.

A Luxury of Five: Head coach Thad Matta returns all five starters and five other letter winners from a squad that posted a 22-11 (10-8 Big Ten) mark in '08-09. The Buckeyes lost in the NCAA Tournament's opening round to Siena in a double-overtime 74-72 contest. Ohio State led the Big Ten in field goal percentage (48.1) last season, while also ranking fourth in the league in field goal percentage defense (40.6). Junior David Lighty is also back after receiving a medical red-shirt last season after breaking his foot seven games in.

A Potential Nightmare Matchup: Junior Evan Turner excelled on the wing for Ohio State last season, leading the Buckeyes in scoring (17.3 ppg), rebounding (7.1), assists (131) and steals (58). The 6-foot-7, 210-pounder shifted over to the point guard position this fall and has performed marginally well, averaging 19 points, 17 rebounds and seven assists per outing. The Preseason All-Big Ten member and All-America candidate delivered the program's second-ever triple-double against Alcorn State, totaling 14 points, 17 rebounds and 10 assists.

Tall and Short: When Ohio State takes the Garden floor on Thursday night, it may take you a few minutes to figure out which Buckeyes are playing the various positions. Turner's 6-foot-7 frame makes him the second-tallest starter next to 6-foot-8 forward Dallas Lauderdale. The other forward, junior David Lighty, stands 6-foot-5, joining 2-guard William Buford at that particular height. Toss in 6-foot-6 wing Jon Diebler and you have a very balanced line-up that's tall in the backcourt and short in the frontcourt.

Thriving Against the Big Boys: The Buckeyes are 2-2 in the last four games against opponents ranked in the top-10.

Last Meeting: Wayne Ellington (23 points, eight rebounds) directed North Carolina to a 66-55 victory at Ohio State in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge on Nov. 28, 2007. As Ty Lawson (ankle) watched from the bench, the Tar Heels held the Buckeyes to 27.1 percent shooting, including a 3-for-24 stretch to begin the second half. Deon Thompson added 14 points and eight rebounds.

Series History: North Carolina leads the all-time series with Ohio State, 9-2. The most recent wins occurred in the 2006-07 and 2007-08 seasons as part of the ACC/Big Ten Challenge.

Projected Starters:
44 William Buford (6-5, 200, So.) - 15.5 ppg, 3.0 rpg
33 Jon Diebler (6-6, 210, Jr.) – 14.5 ppg, 58.3% 3pt
23 David Lighty (6-5, 225, Jr.) – 11.0 ppg, 5.0 apg
21 Evan Turner (6-7, 210, Jr.) – 19.0 ppg, 17.0 rpg, 7.0 apg
52 Dallas Lauderdale (6-8, 260, Jr.) – 2.0 ppg, 4.0 rpg

Top Reserves:
2 Jeremie Simmons (6-2, 175, Sr.) – 10.0 ppg
3 Walter Offutt (6-3, 190, So.) – 5.5 ppg, 1.5 apg
15 Kyle Madsen (6-9, 250, Sr.) – 5.0 ppg, 4.0 rpg
45 Zisis Sarikopoulos (7-0, 265, So.) – 2.0 ppg, 2.5 rpg
4 P.J. Hill (6-1, 170, Sr.) – 0.0 ppg, 2.0 spg

OSU Info
Schedule
Stats
Roster & Bios

Photo Gallery


Buford ... Turner


Diebler ... Lauderdale


Lighty ... Matta


Inside Carolina Top Stories