Virginia Military (3-1) at (3) Ohio State (4-0)
Wednesday, November 23rd, 7:00 p.m. (et)
The Sports Network
By Scott Haynes, Senior College Basketball Editor
FACTS & STATS: Site: Value City Arena (19,049) -- Columbus, Ohio. Television: BTN. Home Record: VMI 2-0, Ohio St. 4-0. Away Record: VMI 0-1, Ohio St. 0-0. Neutral Record: VMI 1-0, Ohio St. 0-0. Conference Record: VMI 0-0, Ohio St. 0-0. Series Record: Ohio State leads, 2-0.
GAME NOTES: The Virginia Military Keydets set their sights extremely high, as they take on the third-ranked Ohio State Buckeyes this evening at Value City Arena.
The Keydets are 3-1 on the young season, albeit against suspect competition to date. VMI has victories over The Citadel (103-100), Alice Lloyd (101-74) and UMBC (84-79) and a loss to Air Force (75-65).
Ohio State is 4-0 on the season, playing its first four games as part of the Global Sports Event. Three of the four wins come by lopsided scores, including an 85-50 blasting of North Florida last time out. This game represents the fifth in a season-opening eight-game homestand for Thad Matta's squad.
This marks the third meeting between these two teams. Ohio State posted a pair of routs of VMI in 2006 and 2007.
VMI's victory over UMBC featured a pair of outstanding performances by Stan Okoye and Keith Gabriel. Okoye finished 9-of-12 from the floor in the game, with 24 points, six rebounds and four steals. Gabriel knocked down 8-of-17 shots and matched Okoye's total with 24 points as well. Michael Sparks and Nick Gore also finished in double figures with 11 and 10 points, respectively. The offensive numbers on the season certainly reflect the lack of competition to date, with VMI averaging 88.2 ppg. Gabriel leads six Keydets in double figures with an impressive 19.3 ppg. Okoye is second at 16.3 ppg, followed by Jordan Weethee with 10.3 ppg. Further depth is found in Ron Burks, Gore and Rodney Glasgow, who are all netting 10.0 ppg.
All-American Jared Sullinger dominated North Florida this week, posting game- highs of 27 points and 13 rebounds in leading the Buckeyes to a 35-point romp. Sullinger was joined in double figures by Deshaun Thomas and William Buford, who chipped in with 16 and 13 points, respectively. Ohio State destroyed North Florida in just about every facet of the game, forcing 23 turnovers, while outrebounding the Ospreys 44-31. Sullinger has been unstoppable in the early stages of the season, converting 60 percent from the floor and leading Ohio State in both scoring (20.5 ppg) and rebounding (9.8 rpg). Buford (14.5 ppg) and Thomas (12.8 ppg) provide balance. The team is shooting a respectable .468 from the field and averaging 81.0 ppg, but has been much more impressive at the defensive end, holding opponents to 51.8 ppg and .380 shooting, while holding a +7.8 rebounding margin and forcing 22.5 turnovers per game.
The Keydets can score with most teams, but the Buckeyes do not fall into that category. Sullinger may be the best big man in the country and with him leading the charge, expect another lopsided score in favor of Ohio State.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Ohio State 88, Virginia Military 63
11/23 10:40:34 ET