The second-ranked Ohio State Buckeyes make their second trip to the Sunshine State this evening, as they take on the Florida State Seminoles in Tallahassee as part of the ACC/Big Ten Challenge.
Thad Matta's Buckeyes have definitely looked sharp in the early going. The team has won its first five games, all by double digits, with a real statement at nationally-ranked Florida a couple of weeks ago (93-75). OSU has not cooled off since then, making light work of UNC-Wilmington (81-41), Morehead State (63-45) and Miami-Ohio 66-45) in succession in Columbus.
Leonard Hamilton's Seminoles are off to a fast start as well. Florida State has won five of its first six games, with a five-game win streak snapped at rival Florida on Sunday, 55-51.
This series has been completely one-sided, with Ohio State winning all four prior meetings, including a 77-64 victory in Columbus last year.
The Buckeyes are as dangerous a team as any in the country, thanks to a balanced attack that features great veteran leadership and a ton of youthful talent. The backcourt is highlighted by the play of seniors David Lighty (15.5 ppg, 4.2 apg) and Jon Diebler (11.0 ppg), junior William Buford (11.5 ppg) and the emergence of freshman Deshaun Thomas (14.8 ppg). The attack in the frontcourt is spearheaded by another freshman phenom in Jared Sullinger (15.2 ppg, 8.6 rpg). With great scoring depth, OSU is averaging a steady 81.2 ppg. The defensive effort has been solid as well, with the team yielding just 53.4 ppg and outrebounding foes by 9.8 caroms per contest. Lighty was on fire in the second half against Miami-Ohio, netting 19 of his 21 points in the second stanza and leading the Buckeyes to victory. Thomas poured in 15 points, while Sullinger tallied 12 for OSU, which .521 from the floor overall.
Like in years past under Hamilton, it will be FSU's defensive pressure that will dictate how successful the team is. Thus far, it has been stellar, with Florida State leading the ACC in field-goal percentage defense (.333). The team has held each of its first six opponents under 39 percent shooting. Even in the loss to the Gators this past weekend, the Seminoles excelled defensively, holding UF to a mere .381 shooting. Unfortunately, that success did not carry over to the offensive end, as only forward Chris Singleton was able to notch double digits with 10 points. In all, the team scored a season- low 51 points. The hope is that the futility against the Gators was simply an aberration, as FSU comes into this contest averaging a solid 78.2 ppg. Singleton is playing at an All-American type level, leading the team in scoring (16.2 ppg), rebounding (10.0 rpg), blocks (17) and steals (19). Guards Deividas Dulkys (10.5 ppg) and Michael Snaer (9.8 ppg) give the team perimeter balance, combining for 24 of the team's 41 three-pointers to date.
FSU will do its best to slow down the Buckeyes with their pressure defense. However, if OSU gets out to a fast start, it could be another lopsided victory for Thad Matta's crew.
GAME NOTES: The second-ranked Ohio State Buckeyes make their second trip to the Sunshine State this evening, as they take on the Florida State Seminoles in Tallahassee as part of the ACC/Big Ten Challenge.
FACTS & STATS: Site: Donald L. Tucker Center (12,100) -- Tallahassee, Florida. Television: ESPN. Home Record: Ohio St. 4-0, Florida St. 3-1. Away Record: Ohio St. 1-0, Florida St. 2-0. Neutral Record: Ohio St. 0-0, Florida St. 0-0. Conference Record: Ohio St. 0-0, Florida St. 0-0. Series Record: Ohio State leads, 4-0.