It is a busy holiday week for Ohio State, but that’s just fine as far as Jared Sullinger is concerned.
Sullinger looks to lead the third-ranked Buckeyes to a third win in five days Friday night when they host Valparaiso.
After opening the week with Monday’s 85-50 victory over North Florida behind Sullinger’s season highs of 27 points and 13 rebounds, Ohio State (5-0) defeated VMI 107-74 on Wednesday. William Buford scored 23 points and Sullinger added 17 points and 12 rebounds for the Buckeyes, who shot 67.6 percent and didn’t seem to have any problem keeping up with the Keydets’ up-tempo offense on limited rest.
They also won’t have much rest before facing Valparaiso, but Sullinger isn’t complaining.
“This is a college player’s dream week right now,” the preseason All-American said with a laugh. “Three games in five days, that means less practice.”
Kidding aside, it also means Ohio State has to quickly prepare for opponents. Sullinger believes the quick turnaround between games will benefit the Buckeyes come the NCAA tournament.
“As I’ve said before, this is a midterm for March,” said Sullinger, who has recorded three straight double-doubles and 21 in 42 games since arriving at Ohio State. “You have to be quick with scouting and knowing their offense as well as our own.”
Ohio State will be facing a more conventional offense from the Crusaders after dealing with VMI’s run-and-gun attack. The Keydets came in averaging 88.3 points while taking an average of 69.5 shots.
“We just stayed with it and we were making shots on offense and getting rebounds and pushing it,” said Buford, who made 10 of 16 shots from the field.
The Buckeyes ran their home winning streak to 27 in a row Wednesday, and can tie the third-longest streak in school history, set between 2006-07, on Friday. Following this game, Ohio State, which plays its first eight games in Columbus, has three days off before hosting sixth-ranked Duke on Tuesday.
Valparaiso (5-1) had a busy schedule last week, but should be well rested after not playing since beating Duquesne 84-68 in the 2K Sports Classic on Sunday. The Crusaders won three games in as many days to capture the Valparaiso subregional in the tournament.
Kevin Van Wijk finished with 22 points and nine rebounds against the Dukes, while Ryan Broekhoff had 21 points, 13 rebounds and six assists.
The two juniors lead Valpo, with Van Wijk averaging 17.8 points and 8.6 rebounds and Broekhoff averaging 15.5 points and 9.0 boards.
The Crusaders have won five straight since opening the season with a 73-64 loss to then-No. 16 Arizona.
That marked Valpo’s 34th consecutive loss to a top 25 team since first-year coach Bryce Drew hit one of the most memorable shots in NCAA tournament history, a 3-pointer at the buzzer in a 70-69 win over fourth-seeded Mississippi in the first round in 1998.
The Buckeyes contributed to one of those defeats, as then-No. 3 Ohio State beat the Crusaders 78-58 on Dec. 2, 2006. In the only other meeting between these programs on Nov. 25, 2000, Valpo handed Ohio State a 67-64 loss in the third-place game of the Great Alaska Shootout.