Wildcats Visit Value City Arena for Lone Meeting with Buckeyes
Sam Thompson
Lenzelle Smith Jr. scored 12 points and had six rebounds in the Buckeyes' last home game against Northwestern.

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Date: Feb. 19, 2014
Ohio State Buckeyes (20-6, 7-6) vs. the Northwestern Wildcats (12-14, 5-8)
Site: Value CIty Arena (18,809)
Game Time: 7:00 p.m. ET
Television: BTN
Talent: Eric Collins (play-by-play)
Stephen Bardo (expert analysis)
Radio: OSU-IMG Sports Network (56 stations)
Satellite Radio: Sirius 85/XM 85
Local Radio: WBNS FM-97.1 AM-1460 Radio
Radio Talent: Paul Keels (play-by-play)
Ron Stokes (expert analysis)

Buckeyes Among National Stat Leaders
After 26 games, Ohio State ranks No. 4 nationally in 3-point field goal percentage defense (.273), No. 8 in scoring defense (58.5 ppg.), No. 12 in fewest fouls per game (16.1) and No. 19 in scoring margin (12.0 ppg.). Aaron Craft is No. 7 nationally in total steals (65).

Ohio State in the Big Ten
The Buckeyes are holding opponents to 58.5 points per game to lead the Big Ten in scoring defense. The Buckeyes are No. 3 in scoring margin (+12.0 ppg.), No. 1 in 3-point percentage defense (.273) and field goal percentage defense (.397) and No. 2 in steals (7.5 spg.). The Buckeyes are No. 1 in turnover margin (+3.4). Junior Amir Williams is No. 1 in the conference in field goal percentage (84-139/.604). Aaron Craft and Shannon Scott are No. 1 and No. 2, respectively, in steals (2.5/2.2). Craft is No. 3 in assists (4.6).
Noting the Illinois Game

  • Illinois leads the all-time series vs. Ohio State 101-68. The Illini own a 60-24 record in Champaign.
  • Ohio State has held Illinois to fewer than 40 points 33 times with 15 wins in those games. Ohio State last held Illinois under 40 Jan. 12, 1946, a 41-35 win for the Buckeyes in Columbus. The last time Ohio State held Illinois to less than 40 points in Champaign was an 18-13 OSU win Jan. 13, 1936.
  • As a ranked team, Ohio State holds a record of 25-11 against Illinois. In the last 16 games in which OSU has been ranked vs. Illinois, the Buckeyes have won 15 times.
  • Ohio State has won nine of the last 11 meetings in the series.
  • The Buckeyes own an overall record of 762-678 against current Big Ten members.
  • Ohio State has held opponents to under 50 percent shooting 25 times this season (Illinois: 28.3 percent, 15-53).
  • Illinois shot 31.3 percent from 3-point range (5-16). Ohio State entered the game second in Division I in 3-point field goal percentage defense (27.1 percent).
  • Ohio State posted 10 steals and six blocks, while forcing 13 turnovers ... held a 17-2 advantage in bench points.
  • Ohio State went on a 12-0 run at 11:57 in the second half vs. Illinois after a put-back dunk by Trey McDonald.
  • Thad Matta is 270-79 during his career at Ohio State and 372-110 overall as a head coach.
  • In 14 seasons as a head coach, Matta owns an overall record of 140-58 vs. Big Ten members, including a mark of 137-56 while coaching the Buckeyes.
  • As a head coach, Matta has recorded at least 20 wins each season (14), 10 at Ohio State.
  • Matta is 14-5 against Illinois.
  • At the helm of the Ohio State program, Matta is 48-23 in the month of February.
  • Aaron Craft led all scorers with 14 points. He has 1,218 for his career, passing Luke Witte (1,211) for 34th all-time ... has collected 11 multi-point performances this season.
  • Craft dished two assists. He is Ohio State's all-time assist leader with 650 for his career. He needs 25 assists to pass Dee Brown of Illinois (674) for sixth on the all-time Big Ten list.
  • LaQuinton Ross had nine points with six rebounds and is one point shy for 700 in his career.
  • Marc Loving scored eight points vs. the Illini off the bench ... scored eight-consecutive points for the Buckeyes in a span of four minutes in the second half beginning at 9:58.
  • Shannon Scott had three assists. Scott needs six helpers for 300 in his OSU career.
  • Scott posted three steals vs. the Illini ... has notched at least one steal in all but two games in 2014.  

Bob Cousy Award Names Craft a Finalist
The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame announced Feb. 17 the 23 watch list finalists for the 2014 Bob Cousy Collegiate Point Guard of the Year Award. Senior Aaron Craft made the list of 23. Named after Hall of Famer and former Boston Celtic Bob Cousy, the annual honor recognizes the top point guards in men's college basketball. The original watch list of 80 candidates was narrowed down to the list of 23 by a nationally based committee. Beginning Tuesday February 18th through Monday March 10th, fans from around the country will have the chance to vote for the top point guard in college basketball - fans can vote at www.cousyaward.com.

Craft Among Senior CLASS Award Finalists
Aaron Craft was named a finalist for the 2014 Senior CLASS award Feb. 12. Fans have a vote in selecting the 2014 Senior CLASS Award winner in men's basketball at http://go.osu.edu/Vote4AC. Thirty men's basketball student-athletes were named candidates at the start of the season. To be eligible for the award, a student-athlete must be classified as an NCAA Division I senior and have notable achievements in four areas of excellence - community, classroom, character and competition. Media, coaches and fans will select the winner, who will be announced at the 2014 Final Four. Craft, a two-time first team academic All-American, is the third Buckeye in the last four years to make the initial list of candidates. David Lighty (2011) and William Buford (2012) each advanced to make the final list of 10 finalists.

NABC Names Craft to 2014 Good Works Team
Aaron Craft was named one of five men's basketball student-athletes in NCAA Division I to the 2014 AllState Good Works Team. The group, along with 15 others from Division I and II in men's and women's basketball, will convene at the 2014 Final Four to be recognized for their career community service efforts. The National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC) and Allstate Insurance Company announced the 202 nominees for the 2014 AllState NABC and WBCA Good Works Teams® Dec. 3. The award recognizes a select group of college basketball student-athletes who have made significant contributions to the greater good of their communities through volunteerism and civic service. In its second year, the AllState NABC and WBCA Good Works Teams® honor players at all levels of college basketball who represent the sport's finest in the areas of leadership and charitable achievements amongst their peers. The student-athletes nominated for this prestigious award embody the true spirit of teamwork and giving back.  

Craft Earns 3rd Career B1G POW, 2nd of 2014
Aaron Craft averaged 12.0 points while recording 10 assists and nine steals in a pair of wins last week. The Buckeyes downed No. 17 Iowa on the road and then dispatched Purdue at home last Saturday. Craft scored 17 points while handing out six assists and recording six steals at Iowa, the best single-game numbers in the Big Ten since 2001. Craft moved to No. 7 all-time in assists (650) in Big Ten history while also taking over the No. 1 spot in career steals (313) since the NCAA officially recognized steals in 1985-86. Craft has earned three career Big Ten POW honors and two this season.

Craft Makes Capital One All-District IV
For the third-consecutive year, Aaron Craft has qualified for Academic All-America consideration. He was named Capital One Academic All-District IV Jan. 30 and is on the ballot for the 2014 CoSIDA Capital One Academic All-America team. Craft is a two-time Capital One Academic All-American, winning as both a sophomore and junior. In 2013 he was named the Academic All-America of the year in men's basketball. Craft is Ohio State's only two-time Academic All-American. There have been just three Big Ten student athletes in men's basketball to be named a three-time CoSIDA Academic All-American.

Three-Time Big Ten Academic All-Americans
Men's Basketball
Steve Grote, MICH, 1975-76-77
Shon Morris, NU, 1986-87-88
Chris Hill, MSU, 2004-05-06

Vote Thad Matta
After the first round of the third annual Coaches' Charity Challenge, head coach Thad Matta is leading all coaches with 35 percent of votes and a 17-point percentage lead over Matt Painter of Purdue. With 48 coaches participating at the start, the field is now set at 24 and votes have been reset to zero. For the next week, fans can vote once a day at VoteCoachMatta.com to help Matta advance to the round of 16.  The Coaches' Charity Challenge is a fan-vote contest that will run for 10 weeks in a tournament-style format. Contributions from the contest have exceeded 300,000. Matta won the challenge in 2012 and 2013 earning 100,000 for the Ronald McDonald House of Charities of Central Ohio. He is once again supporting RMHC.        

The Northwestern Series
Ohio State leads the all-time series with the Wildcats 113-45. Ohio State has won the last eight meetings overall and the last 29 games played in Columbus. The Buckeyes last fell to Northwestern in Columbus Feb. 24, 1977. Ohio State is 66-14 overall vs. Northwestern in Columbus. As a ranked team, Ohio State is 36-2 vs. the Wildcats. The Buckeyes have won the last 16 games as a ranked team in the Northwestern series. Lenzelle Smith Jr., an Illinois native, averages a team best 13.0 points per game in the Northwestern series. Senior classmate Aaron Craft contributes 9.3 ppg. in the NU series. Junior Amir Williams is Ohio State's top rebounder vs. the Wildcats with 6.0 rpg.    

A Look at the Wildcats
Three Wildcats average in double figures offensivley for the the 12-14 Wildcats. Drew Crawford (15.6 ppg.), JerShon Cobb (.12.4 ppg.) and Tre Demps (10.7 ppg.) pace Northwestern offensively. Crawford also leads the squad in rebounds with 6.8 a game. Northwestern started the conference season 0-3 but then rattled off wins in five of the next seven league games. The Wildcats enter the game at Ohio State following three-consecutive losses vs. Nebraska, at Michigan State and most recently at home vs. Minnesota.    

For more on the Buckeyes click on the Ohio State Notes link above.