The Buckeyes will attempt to win their 10th straight conference game tonight off Lane Avenue in Value City Arena. The Buckeyes are led by Player of the Year candidate Evan Turner. Since Evan returned from two broken vertabrae in his back - the Buckeyes are 10-2. On the season they are 17-3 with Turner manning the point, and 3-3 with their superstar on the sidelines. Turner is averaging 19 points, 9 rebounds, and 2 steals per game, but the Bucks resurgence has been a team effort.
Dallas Lauderdale's physical play on the inside, Kyle Madsens ability to stretch the paint, Diebler's outside shooting, and David Lighty and WIlliam Buford's athleticism has sparked a team that is playing as well as any team in the country right now. While Ohio State boasts one of the best players in the country - it has become clear that the Buckeyes strongest asset is their sheer volume of 'go-to' players. There are four players on the team that have exploded for 20+ points on more than one occasion.
The Boilermaker's from Purdue come into Columbus tonight to try to put an end to the recent Buckeye dominance. The Boiler's are 21-3, and ranked #4 in the country. Led by two rangy bigmen in Robbie Hummel and JaJuan Johnson, Purdue is in a three way battle for conference supremacy with Ohio State and Michigan State. Another player to watch is guard E'twaun Moore, who leads Purdue in scoring(@17.3/gm). Purdue has quality out-of-conference wins against Tenn, Alabama, and a team that beat Ohio State, West Virginia.
There are three things to watch for tonight that could hurt the Buckeyes. The first is Dallas Lauderdale's ability(or lack of) to stay out of foul trouble. The second, is whether or not Diebler gets opportunities from behind the arc. The third and possibly most important factor will be the Buckeyes free-throw shooting. A win or loss will likely be determined by swings in these aspects of the Buckeyes gameplan. When all cylinders are firing correctly, Evan Turner enters the comfort zone. In other words 'danger Will Robinson', and Turner might just throw up another triple-double. When the engine sputters Turner presses, and the opposition knows it.
One thing is undeniable. Tonight's match-up of #9 vs. #4 will be huge in determining seeds for both the conference tourney and the big dance. Can Ohio State win their 10th straight? Or will Purdue steamroll to their 22 victory of the season?