Kentucky vs Ohio State 3/25/11 Friday 9:45PM (CBS) Jim Nantz/Clark Kellogg
UK leads series 10-8, UK is 0-5 in the NCAA Tournament against Ohio St.
Head Coach-Thad Matta
Career Record-291-87-- 11 Seasons (77%)
At OSU- 189-56-- 7 Seasons (77%)
Big 10 Record—16-2
Big 10 League Champions and Big 10 Tourney Champions
3 PT%-42.4% (8 PG)
3 PT%-39.6% (7 PG)
Probable Starting Lineup
David Lighty F 6’5” Sr………………..…12.1
William Buford G/F 6’5” Jr……………..14.6
Jared Sullinger C 6’9” Fr………………...17.1
Jon Diebler G 6’6” Sr……………………12.6
Aaron Craft G 6’2” Fr…………………....7.1
Other Key Players
Dallas Lauderdale C 6’8” Sr……………...4.3
Deshawn Thomas F 6’6” Fr………………7.7
Living in the Columbus area, I am very familiar with the OSU program. This OSU team ranks among 3-4 best Buckeye teams I have ever seen and depending on how they finish in the NCAA…..this team might arguably end up being their best ever and rank along with the great Lucas/Havlicek teams of the early 60’s that went to 3 straight Final Fours winning one NCAA championship and losing in the finals twice.
A look at the OSU players:
Jon Diebler is the all time leading scorer in Ohio high school basketball history..….he averaged 40 points PG in high school. Diebler struggled in his freshman year at OSU shooting from the perimeter, but has significantly improved each season and now is arguably the best perimeter shooter in college basketball. He has hit 110-220 for 50%. In two recent Big 10 games, Diebler was 17-20 from the perimeter. Being 6’6”, Diebler is difficult to stop and he has great range.
David Lighty was a freshman on the OSU team that had Oden, Cook and Conley (all in the NBA) ….and they lost to Florida in the NCAA championship game. Early in his junior year Lighty suffered an injury and missed the rest of the season. He got a redshirt, so he is a 5th year senior. Lighty has improved a lot over his career at OSU and is a solid shooter including from the perimeter where he is hitting 43.5%. In addition, Lighty is very athletic and a very good defender.
Jared Sullinger is 6’9” and weighs 280lbs. He is a bull in the paint with outstanding footwork that allows him to get to the rim and often draw fouls. In addition, Sullinger is a solid defender that seldom fouls….only fouling out once this season. Although Sullinger doesn’t shoot much from outside the paint, he has demonstrated that he can shoot and make shots outside the paint when necessary. Jared is a terrific rebounder. Pencil Sullinger in as a lottery pick in the NBA if he decides to go pro.
William Buford is an all around player who excels on both offense and defense. Very athletic….good shooter and hits 44.4% from the perimeter.
Aaron Craft is a freshman that usually doesn’t start, but comes in after a few minutes and plays most of the game. Craft is a tough hard nose kid that was a QB and safety on his high school football team. Craft is 6’2” and weighs 195-200 lbs. Honestly, Craft is already recognized as arguably the best defender in the Big 10. Frankly, the kid is amazing hall hawking and has 69 steals this season. Importantly, Craft is an excellent PG and has 175 assists. Although Craft doesn’t shoot a lot, when he does he is accurate and hits 39% from the perimeter.
Dallas Lauderdale, a senior, was a starter last season and usually starts for 3-4 minutes and then is replaced by Craft. Basically, Lauderdale is a backup center to Sullinger. Although, Lauderdale’s skills don’t compare to Sullinger’s, Dallas is a good defender and can score around the basket. He gives coach Matta a senior veteran to rest Sullinger when necessary.
Deshawn Thomas is a freshman and a very good one. He was a high school all star in Indiana high school basketball. Thomas plays with a swagger and loves to shoot the ball.
He is very athletic.and can hit the boards with authority. Thomas is a bit of a streak shooter and can get hot from the outside. Thomas will start for the Buckeyes next season and he will likely make the NBA one day.
Coach Thad Matta is not a charismatic coach, but he is IMO, an elite coach in recruiting and coaching. In his 11 seasons as head coach (he is only 44 now) Matta has never failed to win 20 games. He was successful in his one year at Butler and very successful in his 3 years at Xavier which included an Elite 8 in the NCAA. At Ohio State, he is likely to go down as the greatest coach in Buckeye basketball history. Matta had the terrific recruiting class of Oden, Cook and Conley….and his current team includes several future NBA players. Looking forward….Matta has signed 4 recruits in the top 50 for OSU next season.
Obviously, Ohio State is a formidable opponent for UK….very deserving of their number one ranking. The Buckeyes are obviously a great perimeter shooting team and have an All American center in the pivot In addition, OSU is a very solid defensive team. However, they are not a deep team and basically play 7 players.
Importantly, Kentucky matches OSU in over all talent and UK is also a very good perimeter shooting team. The Cats defense has improved over the season and Liggins is an outstanding defensive player. Certainly, Josh Harrellson improvement this season has been remarkable and while Josh isn’t an All-American center….he is a darn good center who comes to play with a blue collar tough attitude.
Kentucky will likely be the most talented team OSU has faced this season. UK’s young freshmen have matured greatly and are really no longer freshmen. Some of the keys for UK winning are the following:
- Guard the perimeter and make any perimeter OSU shots difficult.
- Harrellson needs to stay out of foul trouble in guarding Sullinger.
- Try and get Sullinger in foul trouble.
- Take good shots….Cats will need to hit from the perimeter to offset 3’s by OSU
- Minimize TO’s
- Play with great intensity
- Put Liggins on Diebler
- PLAY GREAT DEFENSE
- All hands on deck…everyone needs to play hard and smart
- UK must bring it’s A+ game!