January 13, 2011

Notebook: Bucks to be No. 1?

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ANN ARBOR, Mich. - Ohio State freshman big man Jared Sullinger played in his fourth Big Ten Conference game on Wednesday night.

And for the fourth time in as many games, the 6-foot-9 forward experienced the physicality of what he will be facing for the remainder of the regular season. If he needed a reminder, it was probably what he thought as he continually picked himself off the floor.

"They were basically bringing the kitchen sink on Jared, and I'll think he'll learn from this game," Ohio State head coach Thad Matta said after Ohio State's 68-64 victory over the gritty Wolverines. "He had some turnovers and he lost his balance a little bit. This will be something good from this and if he wants to be a great player he'll learn from it."

The Buckeyes' previous time out on the floor in a close home win over Minnesota, Matta mentioned it was the most physical game he had seen in the paint. That was a natural assumption given the Gophers are probably the most post-oriented team in the conference.

But on Wednesday, the Wolverines did everything they could to keep Sullinger off-balance, and signs of his frustration were evident in a time out in the second half where he punched the ball out of Michigan point guard Darius Morris' hands.

"They loaded the box on me," Sullinger said. "It seemed like at times there was five guys around me."

With Sullinger's signs of frustration prevalent for the first time this season, the freshman better get used to it. It may be the new game plan for opposing teams once they get their hands on the game film.

Bucks to be new No. 1

Before the Buckeyes hit the road to Ann Arbor to take on the dangerous Wolverines, Matta said he felt like Duke was the best team in the nation.

But Matta admitted he'd like to see Ohio State (17-0, 4-0 Big Ten) at the top, but Duke had to lose first.

"I'd like to be No. 1. That means we keep winning," Matta said in Columbus Tuesday. "(Duke) is the defending national champion and until they get knocked off, they're very, very deserving of that. The rest of us are kind of swinging it out."

Matta probably didn't realize he'd get his wish so soon.

While there is no telling Ohio State will move into the top spot in the polls on Monday, Duke was knocked off by Florida State, 66-61, in Tallahassee on Thursday night, making it seem like the Buckeyes are just a win over Penn State away from taking the top spot over.

Florida State is a common opponent for Ohio State and Duke, but the Buckeyes knocked off the Seminoles on their home floor 58-44 early in the season.

Matta talks Weatherspoon

Ohio State freshman J.D. Weatherspoon was declared academically ineligible to participate in the remainder of the season roughly 10 days ago.

Weatherspoon wasn't a big part of Ohio State's rotation, but Matta discussed what the freshman must to do to get back in the good graces of the program.

"He's got to learn to train his mind to understand what's important," Matta said last week. "He needs to get a lot more serious and have an understanding of why he's really here. Basketball is part of if, but it is a small part of it in my mind."

Ari Wasserman is a staff writer for BuckeyeGrove.com. He can be reached at Ari@BuckeyeGrove.com.


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