"Having finals made it a bit difficult," said OSU swingman J.J. Sullinger. "But once finals were over, I think everybody has been tuned in. We just had to fine tune a lot of little things."
OSU opened the year 3-3, evening its mark last Saturday with a 62-57 win over Virginia Tech last Saturday in a game moved downtown to Nationwide Arena.
Sullinger shared five points of emphasis for the Buckeyes during their off-week.
"I think one thing we have really been work on has been our defense," Sullinger said. "We have been working on defensive principles. We've been doing a drill with six men on offense and four on defense. You can't give up any open shots or you get screamed at.
"We've also been working on rebounding. We can only give them one shot. We can't keep giving people second and third opportunities.
"When we run our offense, we have to look to score within the offense. We have to cut hard and screen hard and be more precise.
"Obviously, we have been working on our free throw shooting.
"The last thing has been to work hard and play hard all the time. We can't take lapses. If we need to take a breather, we have to call for a sub."
Sullinger highlighted the win over Virginia Tech with his first career double-double with 22 points and a career-high 11 rebounds.
"It was neat, but ultimately we just want to win," said Sullinger, who netted OSU's first 12 points in that win. "We just want to win. That's all we want to do. The next night, the next guy could have a double-double and be happy. But if we don't get the win, none of us are happy."
Sullinger revealed that getting big men Terence Dials and Velimir Radinovic involved in the offense has been another point of emphasis.
"We have got to get the ball inside," he said. "Velimir is a good player. But if you feed him and get him involved, that makes him that much better. We still want that presence. Hopefully, by the start of the Big Ten, people will know Velimir Radinovic's and Terence Dials' names. Both of them are good players and we have to feed them the ball."
* Tony Stockman leads Ohio State with an average of 15.5 points a game. He has connected on 88 percent of his foul shots (14-16). With a total of 13 steals, Stockman is third among Big Ten players with an average of 2.17 thefts a game. Sullinger averages 13.8 points a game, second on the team, and is the squad leader from 3-point range with a .476 shooting percentage (10-21). He also is connecting on 57 percent of his field goal attempts (31-54).
* Dials, who missed the majority of 2002-03 with a back injury, is the team's leading rebounder and third leading scorer. He is averaging a near double-double with 9.3 points and 9.0 rebounds, including a career-high 14-rebound effort in Ohio State's 77-71 win over Central Michigan at the Maui Invitational. Dials also has been consistent at the foul line, making 26-of-36 attempts (.722). His eight assists rank third (tie). Among Big Ten players, Dials ranks fourth in rebounding.
* The game against Ohio State will be the fifth in six starts for Samford (2-3) away from home. Samford, a member of the Ohio Valley Conference, opened at Purdue and lost 66-50. A home win over Bryan College (94-61) preceded a loss at New Orleans (62-60) and a win at Winthrop (66-64). The Bulldogs then fell to Southern Mississippi 81-61.
Senior guard Tyson Dorsey was named to the Brother's Heat and Air Shootout All-Tournament team for his performance last weekend. He scored 14 points in the Bulldogs' 66-64 victory over Winthrop. He added six points on 2-4 shooting against Southern Miss. For the weekend, he was six of 12 from behind the arc.
Eddie Harper, a 6-5 forward, and Phillip Ramelli, a 6-10 center, are the only two Bulldogs to be in double figures in every game this season. The two have combined for 40 percent of the Bulldogs offense. The four seniors on the squad combine for 60 percent of Samford's point production.