Buckeyes Look Forward To MSU Challenge

Ohio State will take a four-game winning streak into Wednesday night's game at No. 13 Michigan State. Click here for comments on the challenge of playing at the Breslin Center as well as some factoids on this match-up.

Members of the Ohio State men's basketball team had just disposed of Michigan in what was, perhaps, their most impressive showing to date.

The Buckeyes rolled to a 72-46 win over UM, forcing the Wolverines into 29 turnovers. The win helped OSU improve to 16-7 overall and 5-4 in Big Ten play.

Reporters dutifully asked questions about the all-too-easy win over the struggling Wolverines. After all, OSU had successfully followed its own four-game losing streak with a four-game winning streak. Moreover, the Buckeyes were assured of a winning season after slumping to a 14-16 final mark a year ago.

All was right with the world.

But then the questions turned to Wednesday night's game at 13th-ranked Michigan State, certain to be a tall order for any team.

The game will be OSU's only meeting with Michigan State (15-4, 6-2) during the regular season. And it will be in MSU's raucous Breslin Center.

"Michigan State is a real good team," OSU guard J.J. Sullinger said after the win over UM. "For us, it starts right now. We have to prepare ourselves so we can go up there and win.

"I am sure our coaches will do a good job of preparing us in practice. We will be up on their sets and what they do. I think we're getting better every day. I think we're playing good defense and rebounding the basketball."

OSU coach Thad Matta has jumbled his lineup in recent weeks, moving junior Je'Kel Foster and freshman Jamar Butler into the lineup and bringing seniors Brandon Fuss-Cheatham and Tony Stockman off the bench. The results have been three straight double-digit wins over Northwestern, Purdue and Michigan. OSU has shown good scoring balance in each of those wins.

"We have more people contributing, especially with Jamar and Je'Kel," Stockman said. "We have a lot of weapons stepping up their game. I think that helps us in getting ready for the game on Wednesday."

Matta was asked after the Michigan game if his team's recent success would prime them to pull off the upset at Michigan State.

"I hope so," he said. "I think confidence is something that can help you or hurt you. We want our guys to have confidence in this system as opposed to confidence in themselves. That's important for everybody involved. One of our biggest objectives is to play with confidence in what we've worked on and executing the things that we do."

Matta said he has enjoyed seeing his team compete and gut out wins of late. He hopes that carries over to Wednesday.

"These guys still feel their were some losses we had early on that we shouldn't have had," he said. "They have enjoyed playing and, most importantly, enjoyed competing. They enjoy the competition and they enjoy the battles."

Also Notable

* OSU is 1-1 against ranked teams this year, losing at No. 1 Illinois (84-65) and winning at home against then-No. 14 Iowa (81-69).

* Matta is 10-10 all-time against ranked teams in his fifth year as a college head coach. The loss at Illinois made Matta 2-3 all-time on the road against ranked teams.

* Ohio State is 1-9 on the road against ranked teams dating to a 2001 win at then-No. 14 Iowa. The lone win was a 65-59 win at then-No. 21 Purdue last year.

* The Breslin Center has historically been a house of horrors for Ohio State. It opened for the 1989-90 basketball season, replacing historic (but archaic) Jemison Field House.

This will be OSU's 13th visit to Breslin. The Buckeyes are 1-11 all-time at the Breslin Center. The lone win was a 78-65 win in the Big Ten championship season of 1992. OSU's losses at Breslin have ranged from one point (67-66 in 1997) to 15 points (81-66 in 1993, 75-60 in 1994 and 71-56 in 2001).

* MSU leads the all-time series 57-46. Since OSU swept the season series in 1992, MSU holds a commanding 17-3 edge.

* The Spartans won the only match-up last year, 84-70 in Columbus.

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