Top-10 foes collide in Gainesville this evening, as the fourth- ranked Ohio State Buckeyes come calling on the ninth-ranked Florida Gators in a nationally-televised showdown at the O'Connell Center.
Thad Matta's Buckeyes are primed for a big season and one of the real favorites to win the Big Ten this year. The team has a great blend of productive veterans on the roster, but what separates this team is the abundance of youthful talent that could carry OSU far in the postseason. That youth was on full display in the season-opener, as the Buckeyes made light work of NC A&T, 102-61.
Billy Donovan's Gators are back among the SEC elite this year and definitely among the favorites to take home the conference crown. Florida opened its much anticipated 2010-11 season with a solid 77-60 victory at home against UNC Wilmington.
This is the 11th meeting in this series, with Ohio State holding a 6-4 series advantage, including a win in the last meeting in Columbus in 2007.
The Buckeyes are young and extremely talented, as evidenced by the season- opening rout of NC A&T. Ohio State's freshmen class combined for 60 points and 27 rebounds in the lopsided victory. Deshaun Thomas led all scorers with 24 points. Jared Sullinger posted a double-double with 19 points and 14 rebounds, while Aaron Craft chipped in eight points and nine assists in the victory. Veterans like Dallas Lauderdale (12 pts, 13 rebs), William Buford (11 pts, seven rebs, four assists) and David Lighty (10 pts, seven rebs) got into the act as well, as OSU shot a solid .487 from the floor, while owning the glass with a 60-22 edge in rebounding. They certainly all won't come that easy for the Buckeyes this season, but it was a nice adjustment to live action for the younger players on the roster heading into this matchup with the Gators.
Speaking of Florida, the team is much more veteran-driven, with three seniors in the starting lineup, a junior and a sophomore. It was seniors Chandler Parsons and Alex Tyus that led the charge in the season-opening win against UNC Wilmington, netting 16 and 13 points, respectively. Sophomore guard Kenny Boyton chipped in 10 points to the cause, while Vernon Macklin and Erving Walker finished with nine points apiece. Erik Murphy was productive off the bench, finishing with 10 points in 16 minutes of action. The Gators shot a solid .479 from the floor in the game and held a 36-22 advantage on the boards, while converting 20 turnovers into 24 points.
The young Buckeyes can really do themselves a service by posting an early season victory over a top team on the road. With the strong play both inside and out, look for OSU to do enough to pick up that win here.
GAME NOTES: Top-10 foes collide in Gainesville this evening, as the fourth- ranked Ohio State Buckeyes come calling on the ninth-ranked Florida Gators in a nationally-televised showdown at the O'Connell Center.
FACTS & STATS: Site: Stephen C. O'Connell Center (12,000) -- Gainesville, Florida. Television: ESPN. Home Record: Ohio St. 1-0, Florida 1-0. Away Record: Ohio St. 0-0, Florida 0-0. Neutral Record: Ohio St. 0-0, Florida 0-0. Conference Record: Ohio St. 0-0, Florida 0-0. Series Record: Ohio State leads, 6-4.