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Bucks tip off season near full strength

Paul Woo / The Lantern

Coming off last week’s exhibition victory over Walsh, the Ohio State men’s basketball team opens its regular season today against Alcorn State.

The game is the first of two in the preliminary round of the 2K Sports Classic, a tournament that will culminate with two games in New York City’s Madison Square Garden next week.

Perhaps the biggest question for the Buckeyes coming into the game is the person in the center position.

Coach Thad Matta expects to again be without Dallas Lauderdale as he recovers from a broken hand.

But it seems that he will return in the near future. Matta said Wednesday that the trainers are working to provide him with a brace that would allow him to participate in the team’s full practices. Though he won’t play Monday, he should be able to make his return Thursday against James Madison.

In Lauderdale’s absence, senior Kyle Madsen got the start, but both he and sophomore Zisis Sarikopoulos played significant time. Matta was pleased with their performances.

“I thought they did a very good job, I really did,” Matta said. “With those two guys, you’ve got good size.”

On a similar note, the rest of the rotation will be something to watch as the Buckeyes begin regular season play.

As expected, Evan Turner, David Lighty, Jon Diebler and William Buford were in the starting lineup against Walsh.

Jeremie Simmons, P.J. Hill, Walter Offutt and Nikola Kecman all played at least 12 minutes off the bench. 

“We had the luxury of getting guys more minutes and more opportunities to play, giving Evan or John … just more of a two-minute blow here or there,” Matta said. “I hope we can continue that.”

Monday’s game will mark junior David Lighty’s first regular season appearance since last year’s season-ending foot injury. Lighty showed no lingering effects against Walsh, and his return is a welcome sight for his teammates.

“He’s a big part of our team and a big part of what this program stands for,” Turner said. “It was tough to see him go out for a year, but he came back. It looks like he’s playing well. I think we are going to win a lot of games with him on the floor, and I’m just so happy he’s back.”

The Buckeyes take on the Alcorn State Braves at 7 p.m. at the Schottenstein Center.

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