According to Lauderdale, Matta sought him out and spoke to him in the hallway outside his hallway to challenge him to play better than he had in the Big Ten tournament. Against the Gauchos, the junior set two career highs with 12 rebounds and eight blocked shots while playing one of his most effective games of the season.
In Lauderdale's words, the coach jokingly threatened him that if he did not play better, he would essentially step on his neck.
One day later, Matta was asked about the exchange between the two. As it turns out, there was a little more to the story than Lauderdale had initially let on.
"I had been on him all week," the coach said. "When we broke film Thursday night, he left a scouting report in there, which kind of pushed me over the edge.
"And so I took it to his room, and I basically said, ‘I don't believe that your mind is ready to go if you can't carry ten pieces of paper upstairs; therefore, we'll find out tomorrow night at 9:30 whether you're ready to go or not.' And he was. To his credit, he did a good job responding."
And now you know the rest of the story.
A Buckeye At Heart: As part of the West regional, Xavier is also suiting up in Milwaukee and will play Pitt after OSU and Georgia Tech are done. In addition to being the prior stop for Matta, the Musketeers have another tie to the Buckeyes – one that involves the football team.
As OSU was putting together its 2007 recruiting class, one name under consideration for a scholarship was two-star wide receiver prospect Greenfield (Ohio) McClain wide receiver Dante Jackson. Also a talented basketball player, Jackson was a three-star shooting guard prospect ranked No. 26 nationally at his position.
In the end, Jackson narrowed his choices to Dayton or Xavier and selected the Musketeers because he liked the direction in which he felt the program was headed. However, things could have turned out much differently for Jackson, who is averaging 6.3 points per game as a starter.
"It's funny because I loved Ohio State football and still do," he said. "It was one of those things that I would've gone and played football if they would've offered a scholarship over playing basketball. They didn't and I took what I felt like was the best opportunity for me."
That meant giving up the sport, something Jackson said he was eventually fine with. OSU was recruiting him in both sports but never wound up issuing him a scholarship offer.
"It was difficult, but once I found out that Ohio State wasn't going to offer for football it made it pretty easy because I only wanted to play at Ohio State," he said.
The three-star prospect from Marietta (Ga.) Walton committed to the Yellow Jackets after also landing scholarship offers from Marquette and Miami (Fla.). On the eve of his team's game against the Buckeyes, Rice said he received a phone call from his father.
"He said to go out there and win for him and the rivalry," Rice said.
Some Final OSU Quotes: Here are a few final thoughts on the Buckeyes from some Georgia Tech players.
Sophomore guard Iman Shumpert: "They're really good at grinding out wins. We've played a lot of teams down the stretch but they're a team that is really comfortable down the stretch. Teams like that, it's always down to the wire. You never want to be on the wrong end of those close games. It's going to be tough."
Senior swingman D'Andre Bell on Evan Turner: "I've seen a bit of him. He's a very talented player, very long and big. The ball is in his hands 80 percent of the time. He's a playmaker."
Shumpert on having to stop Turner: "He's a handful. He's aggressive. He brings the ball down. He's not like (Oklahoma State guard James) Anderson where he's catching the ball on the wing and then starting to operate. You see it coming the whole time."