#### Ignatius L Hoops

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PRESSING THE ADVANTAGE

Ohio State’s last visit to Minneapolis was memorable. The Buckeyes opened the Big Ten tournament with an 81-79 win over archrival Michigan and followed that with a startling comeback from a 20-point halftime deficit closing out top seed Indiana 79-75. And then, the Clarkeyes stomped all over OSU taking the title game 105-72.

Shrugging off the drubbing, Ohio State’s successful season (28-8 overall and 12-6 in conference) continued in the NCAA tournament where they defeated James Madison, North Carolina, and UConn before being bumped off by Virginia Tech.

The Buckeyes and Gophers met twice last season. In the first meeting, OSU erased a 61-55, start of the fourth quarter deficit, with a 28-10 run and turned away the home standing Gophers 83-71.Mallory Heyerled Minnesota with 15 points and 12 rebounds while Ohio State’s freshman star,Cotie McMahon, put up 12 points, 7 rebounds and 4 assists. The rematch a month later in Columbus was a 93-63 Buckeye romp and no one romped more thanMcMahonwith 25 points and 4 rebounds.

This season, after a bumpy start with losses to UCLA and Southern Cal, the Buckeyes (19-3 overall and 10-1 in conference) are close to taking control of the B1G following wins over Indiana and Iowa. Here’s their Big Ten record:

WINS:Penn State 94-84, @ Northwestern 90-60, Rutgers 90-55, Michigan State 70-65, @ Maryland 84-76, Iowa 100-92, @ Illinois 67-59, @ Purdue 71-60, Wisconsin 87-49 and Indiana 74-69

LOSES:@ Michigan 60-69

THE BUCKEYE STARTERS:was last season’s Big Ten Freshman of the Year and she is not having a sophomore slump. The Buckeyes are feared for their press (Indiana turned the ball over 23 times last Sunday which the Buckeyes turned into 21 points). And McMahon is an integral part of a pressing front three that swarm to the ball when they sniff out a dribble. Here’s a double shot of McMahon raising havoc against the Hoosiers.

Cotie McMahon

The easiest way to get McMahon under control is to get her in foul trouble-especially taking a charge on her spin move if you dare.

It’s a double-edged sword because she draws fouls like mosquitoes. Last season in the first game versus Minnesota she drew five fouls and went 6-10 from the line and in the second she drew 7 fouls and went 9-9 from the line. Of course, she’s also OSU’s second leading scorer and their leading rebounder.All stats are for Big Ten games only:6’0” is a sophomore averaging 15.7 points and 7.5 rebounds in 31.5 minutes per game. She had 20 points, 7 rebounds and 5 assists before fouling out late in the Indiana game.

Cotie McMahon

The Buckeye’s leading score is 5’10” graduate guardJacy Sheldonwho averages 17.7 points and 3.4 rebounds in 36.6 minutes. She scored 25 points and had 3 steals against the Hoosiers. Sheldon averages 2.2 steals per game and leads the Big Ten in minutes played. She has struggled from three hitting at a .280 clip.

When you have one of the country’s best defenses, you go out and recruit one of the country’s best defenders.Celeste Taylorwas last season’s ACC Defensive Player of the Year. After two seasons at Texas and two at Duke she decided to go to Colombus to play for head coachKevin McGuff. His third recruiting try was a charm.Celeste Tayloraverages 10.8 points and 4.5 rebounds in 28.5 minutes. She also adds a three-point threat to the lineup.

Taylor Thierryis a 6’1” junior swing player averaging 10.6 points and 5.6 rebounds in 27.6 minutes. She had 11 points, 5 rebounds and 2 steals versus Indiana.

Rebeka Mikulasikovais a 6’4” graduate forward averaging 9.2 points and 3.3 rebounds in 27.7 minutes. She’s an annoyingly good three-point shooter.

OFF THE BENCH:is a 5’10” senior guard averaging 4.8 points and 2.0 rebounds in 17.8 minutes. Harris brings occasional starter experience to the mix.

Rikki Harris

Madison Greenis a 5’8” senior guard averaging 3.1 points and 1.1 rebounds in 12.5 minutes. Green suffered a season-ending injury last season. She returned to the court last December against Penn State.

SOME QUICK STATS:

Ohio State is averaging 80.6 points per game while giving up 67.8. That’s a 12.8 point margin which ranks second in the B1G. Part of that is due to a league leading turnover margin of 7.09. The Buckeyes turn the ball over 12.7 times per game while forcing 19.8.

THE WRAP

Despite preparation, the Ohio State press discombobulated the Hoosiers once again. Indiana’sTeri Morenvoiced her post-game frustration:

“There’s a lot of things I’d like to do different, but you don’t get second chances,” Moren said after the game. “I’ll take all the blame for the press attack today and not putting our kids in the right (positions). And they knew it, and they knew they had to be able to handle themselves. And for two days against our press guys, our scout guys, they did a decent job, but it was still concerning, because their pressure and Ohio State’s pressure looks a little bit different.”

HopefullyDawn Plitzuweitand the Gophers (4-7) can find the right positions against the Buckeyes (10-1) and we can enjoy a battle between the sophomores:Cotie McMahonandMallory Heyer.