Buckeyes Make Short Trip For Home Game

OSU men's basketball squad, led by captain Velimir Radinovic, will be considered the home team as Virginia Tech comes to Columbus for Saturday's game at Nationwide Arena. The game is being played there as a dry run for NCAA men's basketball tournament games there in March.

Ohio State will host Big East opponent Virginia Tech Saturday (2 p.m., ESPN-Plus) in a special game at Nationwide Arena in downtown Columbus.

The game is a dry run for the NCAA men's basketball first- and second-round games scheduled for Nationwide in March.

OSU practiced on the Nationwide floor, which is actually the Value City Arena floor transported in from the Schottenstein Center -- sans the Value City Arena logo.

"On the plus side, we like to think we have an opportunity always to be an NCAA (tournament)-type team," said OSU coach Jim O'Brien. "If you get into the NCAA, these are the type of places you have to play in -- foreign environments and big arenas.

"So, from that standpoint, this is nice. This is a beautiful building.

"The down side is you do not want to give up any advantage from playing in the arena where we always play. To be fair, Virginia Tech is coming here for a one-game scenario. We are not returning the game. I thought to be fair to them we would play this game away from Value City Arena. This is a good game for us and hopefully it will be a good environment."

Ohio State (2-3) is at somewhat of a crossroads following a 73-53 home loss to Georgia Tech Wednesday night. The loss was OSU's third double-digit defeat of the young season, leaving O'Brien scratching his head.

"My expectation is that our guys are going to come out and play as hard as they have ever played before," O'Brien said. "If they don't I will be very disappointed. We've had a lot of discussion the last couple of days about the state of affairs with our team. If they don't understand how I feel right now, they will never understand.

"But I do think they will get this message and I will be surprised if our guys don't come out and get all after it tomorrow."

Virginia Tech (3-2) opened the year 2-0 with wins over New Hampshire and Western Carolina. The Hokies then lost at home to Virginia 80-65 before defeating Morgan State 76-66 on Monday. Last night, they dropped a 94-92 heartbreaker to Old Dominion in overtime at home.

Seth Greenberg, formerly of South Florida, is in his first year as the coach at Virginia Tech.

"They're very quick," O'Brien said. "I think they're trying to figure it out like we are. They're in a tough situation. They just played last night and four guys played 40-plus minutes and now they have to play here tomorrow. It won't be easy for them.

"But we have to play well. This is not a game that will be easy for us. We're going to have to play better than we have in some stretches this year."

The Hokies are led by 6-7 power forward Bryant Matthews, who averages 27.4 points and 10.8 rebounds per game. He has carded 36 and 37 points in his last two games.

"This kid Matthews, he has been their leading scorer and rebounder in every game they've played," O'Brien said. "In the last two games, he's been in the 30s. We know he's going to be a tough match-up. A lot of pretty good teams have had a hard time of guarding him."

Tech has three other players in double figures in 6-3 freshman guard Jamon Gordon (14.4 ppg), 6-2 freshman guard Zabian McDowell (10.6 ppg) and 6-9 sophomore forward Philip McCandies (10.0 ppg).

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Maybe the only positive out of the Georgia Tech game was the play of center Velimir Radinovic, who had 12 points and nine rebounds. Radinovic made all four of his shots from the floor after getting just six shots (and making five of those) in the team's first four games.

"The onus is upon me to yell for the ball," Radinovic said after practice Friday. "I just need to be aggressive and get open for them. It does get a little frustrating, but I just have to pull guys aside and let them know it will come back out to them, too, so they can have some open shots."

Radinovic said the team is working hard on cohesiveness after stumbling through these early season games.

"We are making an emphasis on being together," he said. "We have to be a cohesive unit. We've been pretty scattery. Someone needs to take that leadership role and try and get on the guys when things like that happen.

"The last game was completely embarrassing. We all have to look within ourselves and step up."

Radinovic said the team is looking forward to playing this game in a different setting, albeit just down the road from their home arena.

"I think it will be fun," he said. "It will be a different atmosphere. Hopefully, the fans will be excited about it. We need to come out and play hard for the whole 40 minutes.

"This place kind of reminds me of the United Center (in Chicago) or the arena at Penn State."

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