Photo courtesy of MCT
Ohio State may still be excited that Urban Meyer has been hired as the new head coach of the football team, but don’t forget the No. 2-ranked men’s basketball team.
Coach Thad Matta will lead the 6-0 Buckeyes against Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski’s No. 3-ranked Blue Devils Tuesday at the Schottenstein Center in a game some may consider the stiffest test yet for OSU in 2011.
Krzyzewski brings a Duke squad to Columbus, Ohio, that is fresh off a tournament victory at the Maui Invitational in Maui, Hawaii.
A young, star-studded team with some NBA lineage, including junior guard Seth Curry and freshman guard Austin Rivers, has helped the team to a 7-0 start. Curry, brother of former Davidson star and NBA draftee Stephon Curry, averages 15 points per game for Duke while Rivers, son of Boston Celtics coach Doc Rivers and the No. 1-rated recruit according to Rivals.com, is also averaging 14 points-per-game for the Blue Devils.
Sophomore forward Jared Sullinger, who was a highly touted recruit himself, said Rivers will provide a challenge for the Buckeyes defensively.
“He’s a good basketball player,” Sullinger said. “He’s smart. He can shoot the basketball. He can handle the basketball. He’s a crafty scorer. It will be a team effort to stop him from getting to the basket.”
Like OSU, Duke’s roster is young and boasts just a single senior — forward Miles Plumlee.
Matta said he thinks Krzyzewski’s squad has more big-game experience despite the two teams’ comparable youth.
“(Duke) has a cast of guys that have played in a lot of these games,” Matta said. “We’ve got one senior (William Buford) and one junior (forward Evan Ravenel) who had never played for us until this year.”
Matta also said the thing he first notices about Duke is the team’s ability to shoot the ball.
“You got three guys out there that can shoot and shoot from three point range,” Matta said
Calendars still read “November,” and Matta said the early-season test against Duke is an important one.
“You come out of this game, and you’re going to know a lot about your team, and you’re still in November,” Matta said. “That’s the beauty of what we have here. It’s a gauge for what’s coming down the road. I think we’re going to be better in January than we are in November.”
Many Buckeye fans have been looking forward to the matchup against the Blue Devils since the moment the schedule was released, but Sullinger said the Buckeyes don’t focus on their opponents.
“We focused on us and not the opponent,” Sullinger said. “That’s what makes this basketball team good.”
Tuesday’s game tips at 9:35 p.m.