Buckeyes Focused on Hoops

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Last updated: 12/21/2013 8:05 AM
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Men's Basketball
Buckeyes Foused on Hoops, not Hoopla, in Big Apple
By Rob Ogden

If you can make it there, you can make it anywhere. 

In the words of Frank Sinatra, the Buckeyes will try to make it in New York Saturday night when they face Notre Dame in Madison Square Garden.

It's Ohio State's first trip to the Garden since 2009. Senior Lenzelle Smith Jr. has never been to New York, but said he knows the significance of playing atop Pennsylvania Station.

"It's the mecca of basketball," Smith said. "Some of the greatest basketball players of all time have played there. There's some magic in that building and I hope we can experience that Saturday."

It's the arena where Michael Jordan once dropped 55 points and Kobe Bryant scored 61. Oh, and the same place Thad Matta won the 2008 NIT.

Evan Turner registers a dunk in The Garden vs. U Mass in the 2008 NIT.
Photo by Jim Davidson
Evan Turner

That game is not to be discussed though, said point guard Aaron Craft.

"He doesn't bring up the NIT very often," Craft said. "I don't think he even knows where that trophy is."

He was right.

"I honestly don't," Matta said.

"Jake Diebler's mother asked me if she could have a piece of the net. I told her she could have the whole thing."

All-time, Ohio State is 20-12 in games played at Madison Square Garden, including that 92-85 win over Massachusetts in 2008.

Most recently, the Buckeyes beat California in the 2K Sports Classic in 2009.

Ohio State last played Notre Dame on Dec. 6, 2008. Evan Turner scored 28 points as the unranked Buckeyes toppled the No. 7 Fighting Irish in Indianapolis.

Saturday's game will be the culmination of the Gotham Classic, which saw Ohio State knock off Bryant, North Dakota State and Delaware in conniving fashion in Columbus.

Matta said Saturday's game won't feel much different. There will be no time for sight-seeing, he said. The Buckeyes won't do much more than they would on a trip to Champaign or West Lafayette.

"Quite honestly, when the ball gets tossed up, I don't know if I'm in New York City, Los Angeles or Columbus," Matta said. "I've got a job to do."

Saturday night, the job for the No. 2 Buckeyes is to get to 12-0.

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