Jan. 15, 2015
Ohio State vs. Minnesota
Date: Thursday, January 15, 2015 | Time: 7:00
p.m. ET | Venue: Value City Arena | Location: Columbus, Ohio
Radio: ESPN 1460AM
Online Coverage: Live Video | Live Stats | Game Notes | Twitter Updates
Setting the Scene
Ohio State returns home for a pair of contests this week starting with a clash against Minnesota on Thursday evening.
Tip-off is set for 7 p.m. from Value City Arena.
Ohio State (11-6, 3-2) comes into the game off a record-setting week on the road. The Bucks scored 103 points in a blowout at Indiana on Thursday but then surrendered 100 points in a 100-94 loss in overtime at Michigan on Sunday.
Minnesota (14-2, 3-1) has lost just twice this season with one of those losses coming last Sunday at home to No. 12 Maryland.
The game will be streamed live for a fee on BTN Plus.
The game can also be heard on ESPN 1460 AM in the Columbus area and on www.OhioStateBuckeyes.com.
Nothing Easy Down Low
Thursday's game between Ohio State and Minnesota will feature two of the country's best shot-blocking teams.
Ohio State, behind Alexa Hart's 63 blocks, leads the B1G at 6.3 blocks per game and is ninth nationally.
Minnesota is right behind the Buckeyes at 6.2 blocks per game. Amanda Zahui leads the B1G with 65 blocks this season.
Quick Buckeye Did You Knows??
The Buckeyes have been on the right end of two historic blowouts this season. The 42-point victory over No. 18 West Virginia (96-54) was the largest margin of victory over a ranked team. The 54-point blowout of Indiana (103-49) on Jan. 8, was the largest margin of victory for the Buckeyes in a B1G game.
Ohio State is No. 8 in the country in scoring offense at 82.4 ppg. The school record for points per game in a season is 83.2 set by the 1992-93 team.
The Buckeyes lead the conference and are ninth nationally in blocked shots per game at 6.3.
Kelsey Mitchell (24.9 ppg) and Ameryst Alston (21.5 ppg) make up the top-scoring back court in the country.
A Quick Look At Minnesota
Despite losing the B1G Preseason Player of the Year Rachel Banham to a knee injury in mid-December, the Gophers have started the year 14-2 overall and 3-1 in the conference.
Minnesota fell for just the second time this season when it was defeated 77-73 at home by Maryland last Sunday.
Banham was averaging a team-best 18.6 ppg and had a 2-to-1 assist to turnover ratio through the first 10 games.
Forward Amanda Zahui has picked up some of the slack for Banham as she is averaging a double-double with 16.6 points and 11.7 rebounds per game. Zahui has swatted a B1G-best 65 shots and is second in the country with 12 double-doubles.
Shae Kelley (15.8 ppg) and Carlie Wagner (10.3 ppg) are the other two Gophers averaging in double-figures.
Minnesota is second in the B1G and 10th in the country at 6.2 blocked shots per game.
Marlene Stollings is in her first season at Minnesota. She took over following two successful seasons at VCU where she led one of the top turnarounds in the nation in 2013-14.
Series History vs. Minnesota
Ohio State and Minnesota are meeting for the 69th time on Thursday.
The Buckeyes hold a 53-15 lead in the all-time series but Minnesota has won four of the last five meetings.
OSU has lost just twice in 28 contests at home against Minnesota but one of those came in the teams' most recent meeting, a 57-56 UM victory on Feb. 21, 2013.
The Buckeyes scored 117 points in a 117-64 win at Minnesota on Jan. 12, 1996. That is the most points OSU has ever scored in a B1G game.
McGuff vs. Minnesota
Head coach Kevin McGuff is 1-1 all-time against the Gophers.
McGuff guided Xavier to a victory at the Junkanoo Jam in the Bahamas in 2009 and then dropped a 74-57 decision at Minnesota last season.
Hey! I Know You Guys
Minnesota head coach Marlene Stollings and assistant coach Nikita Lowry Dawkins both make a return to Columbus on Thursday.
Stollings played two seasons for the Buckeyes in 1993-94 and 1994-95 before transferring and Dawkins was one of the best to ever don the Scarlet and Gray.
Dawkins helped lead the Buckeyes to three Big Ten Championships and four NCAA Tournament appearances from 1985-89.
Stollings is a Chillicothe, Ohio native. She averaged over five points per game and made 52 three-pointers in her two seasons.
During her playing career, Dawkins earned Kodak All-America First Team and Street & Smith All-America First Team honors, Chicago Tribune Player of the Year recognition, All-Big Ten First Team accolades.
She was inducted into the Ohio State Athletics Hall of Fame in 2000.
Dawkins would go on to win four gold medals, three as a player and one as a coach, with USA Basketball after she left Columbus.
Last Year vs. Minnesota
Ohio State dropped a 74-57 decision at Minnesota to close out the regular season.
Raven Ferguson led three Buckeyes in double-figures with 16 points off the bench.
Martina Ellerbe added 13 points and Ameryst Alston, playing with an injured left shoulder, scored 11 points and added nine assists.
Cait Craft finished with nine and Lisa Blair recorded four blocks and five rebounds in her first career start.
After a solid start, Ohio State dug itself in a hole when it shot just 26 percent from the field in the first half and the game swung in favor of Minnesota about midway through the half.
Ohio State trailed by only three, 18-15, with 7:23 left before a 14-1 run by Minnesota put the Gophers up, 32-16, with 2:36 remaining. The Buckeyes hit only one field goal, a three-pointer by Ellerbe, in the final 7 minutes and Minnesota would lead 35-21 at the half.
The Gophers were quick to start the second half as well and pushed the lead to 47-26 about 5 ½ minutes in.
The Buckeyes, however, kept fighting and trimmed the Gopher lead to 10 on a few occasions behind the play of Alston, Ellerbe, Craft and Ferguson.
After a jumper by Alston cut the lead to 65-55 with 3:53 left, Minnesota answered coming out of a timeout with the next five points to end the Buckeye comeback.
Rachel Banham led Minnesota with 27 points and seven assists while Amanda Zahui had 14 points and 18 rebounds.
Last Time Out
Michigan came out on the better end of physical back-and-forth battle and claimed a 100-94 overtime victory in Ann Arbor last Sunday.
The Wolverines got a game-high 36 points from Shannon Smith and 24 points on six three-pointers from Katelynn Flaherty.
The other big stat in favor of Michigan was on the glass as the Wolverines led 45-31 and had 25 second-chance points.
Ohio State had seven players score in double-figures led by 17 a piece from juniors Cait Craft and Ameryst Alston. Shayla Cooper added 16 points, Amy Scullion had a season-high 11 points and freshmen Asia Doss and Alexa Hart each finished 10 points.
One of the stories of the day was Michigan's ability to limit the nation's leading scorer and Kelsey Mitchell. Mitchell scored a season-low 13 points with all of them coming in the second half and overtime.
After falling behind early, the Buckeyes stormed back at the end of the first half and scored the first six points of the second half to take its first lead of the day. A push and shove second half gave way to a 76-70 lead for the Buckeyes with four minutes left in regulation.
Michigan made a run to retake a 79-78 but a lay-in and two free throws from Mitchell put Ohio State in front 82-79 with one minute left. Flaherty answered with a deep three-pointer to tie the score on the next possession and the teams failed to score in the final 50 seconds.
The Wolverines then got a lay-in from Smith and another three-pointer by Flaherty in the first minute and a half of overtime to set the tone.
The Buckeyes had their chances as UM missed four-straight free throws but grabbed the rebound each time. That allowed Michigan to score seven-straight points in the extra frame and put the game away.
Buckeyes At A Glance
The Buckeyes have won seven of the last nine games and are 11-6 on the year and 3-2 in the B1G.
Ohio State is coming off a record-setting week in which is scored 103 points in a blowout at Indiana and then surrendered 100 points in an overtime loss at Michigan.
The 103 points were the most points an OSU team has scored against IU and it was the Buckeyes' first 100-point B1G game since 1996.
Freshman Kelsey Mitchell and junior guard Ameryst Alston are the best scoring guard combo in the country.
Mitchell leads the country in scoring at 24.9 ppg. She had a season-high eight assists at IU and has dished-out a team-high 68 assists She has already set the school-record for three-point field goals in a season with 57.
Alston is not far behind Mitchell at No. 2 in the B1G and 13th nationally in scoring at 21.5 points per contest and has scored 20 or more points in six of the last eight games.
Sophomore transfer Shayla Cooper became eligible on Dec. 22 and has shown why she was a highly touted recruit. She has averaged 11.8 points in her six games including a career-high 19-point performance in the win over Northwestern.
Freshman Alexa Hart is the team's best low-post threat as she is averaging 10.8 points and 7.7 rebounds per game. She is shooting a B1G-best 63.8 percent from the floor and has blocked 63 shots which is second in the B1G and is fourth nationally.
Freshman guard Asia Doss has started every game this season and is averaging 6.1 points and 5.0 rebounds per game. She is a quick guard who is disruptive on the defensive end and also rebounds well.
Center Lisa Blair has worked herself into a more substantial role this season. She notched the first double-double of her career with 11 points and 12 rebounds against Western Michigan and then scored 10 points, grabbed seven rebounds and had five blocks in the win over No. 16 Rutgers.
The team was crippled by injuries in the month of October as three players -- Mykala Waterman, Chelsea Mitchell and Kianna Holland -- all suffered ACL injuries and will miss the season.
Redshirt-sophomore Kalpana Beach missed the last two seasons with knee injuries and has missed seven more games this season.
One Tough Schedule
The Buckeyes have faced a daunting schedule so far this season and navigating their way through the rest of the Big Ten slate won't be easy either.
The Big Ten has been pegged by many sites as the toughest conference in the country.
Because of that and the fact that the Buckeyes faced a challenging non-conference schedule, RealTimeRPI.com has ranked Ohio State's schedule as the toughest in the country.