JEFFREY PHELPS / AP Enlarge
MILWAUKEE - When Ohio State faces Georgia Tech in today's NCAA tournament second-round game, the Buckeyes are confident they can score - as long as they can see the basket amongst the trees.
Georgia Tech will present one of the tallest lineups Ohio State has seen this season, and a unique set of challenges. The Yellow Jackets will have 6-foot-10 freshman Derrick Favors and 6-9 junior Gani Lawal in the starting lineup, and 6-8 senior Zachery Peacock coming off the bench.
Georgia Tech (23-12) outrebounded its opponents by 167 this season, and had 190 blocked shots. Lawal and Favors lead the team in scoring as the Yellow Jackets push the ball inside at every opportunity.
"They've shown game after game they are really trying to pound the ball inside to the big guys," Ohio State coach Thad Matta said. "We've got to do a great job of making it as difficult as we can for them to score - alleviating easy opportunities."
Ohio State (28-7) uses a hybrid lineup of essentially four guards, with 6-8 Dallas Lauderdale in the middle. Lauderdale, who had eight blocks and 12 rebounds in the Buckeyes' first round win over UC Santa Barbara, said the banging around on the inside he expects from Georgia Tech won't be something foreign.
"Playing in the Big Ten, we're used to physical play around the basket," Lauderdale said. "Georgia Tech has a lot of size and some big guys, so we'll just have to be very aware of getting good position, and holding it."
Matta said he took his team through some film review of the Yellow Jackets and went over their tendencies, and discussed in meetings early yesterday how Ohio State will have to defend Georgia Tech's inside strength.
"As we've gone through preparation, we talked to our guys about how we don't want to get burned on something that we know is coming," Matta said.
OSU sophomore William Buford said both teams have distinctly different strengths.
"They have the size and they like to crash the boards. Size is their advantage, but we have four guards out there who can all shoot and score, so that is our advantage," Buford said.
UNFRIENDLY: That was more than a chorus of boos that showered Ohio State when the Buckeyes came out on the Bradley Center floor for Friday night's game with UC Santa Barbara. The crowd of about 18,000 was heavily partisan for the Gauchos, and it wasn't because Santa Barbara chartered a dozen planes and filled the arena with its following.
The assumption was that a lot of local fans, loyal to the Wisconsin Badgers, would cheer the Russian National Team if it were playing the Buckeyes. The reception did not fluster junior David Lightly.
"It's always like that," Lighty said.
WATER BOARDING: After struggling with inconsistency in the Big Ten tournament, Lauderdale came out energized and active against UC Santa Barbara, and had eight blocked shots, 12 rebounds, and two seismic dunks.
Lauderdale joked that a motivational moment with his coach provided plenty of incentive. "Coach sort of held my head under water last night," Lauderdale said.
"We had a little conversation. I had to come out and get the job done, or he would have been down my throat."
KAMPE QUOTE: Oakland coach Greg Kampe, a 1978 graduate of Bowling Green State University and a former football and basketball player for the Falcons, saw his team fall to Pittsburgh in the first round Friday. But a disappointed Kampe, in his 26th season as coach of the Grizzlies, remained philosophical about the outcome.
"There's only one team that finishes happy," Kampe said. "Everybody - 64 of the 65 teams - is going to feel the way that we do now. It just happened earlier than we would have liked it to happen."
FREEBIE FEAST: In its five-point win over Oklahoma State on Friday night, Georgia Tech made 24-of-25 free throws - 96 percent. The Yellow Jackets shot 65 percent from the line as a team this season.
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