Another Big Man

Columbus,Oh - Ohio State had great success with talented freshman 7-footers in recent years. That's what makes B.J. Mullens' development so intriguing.

Bet Mens College Basketball

Mullens, who has had a somewhat limited role as the 15th-ranked Buckeyes have put together the nation's current longest winning streak, looks to continue his progression in a matchup with West Virginia on Saturday.

Oddsmakers from Online Sportsbook have made the Ohio St –3. point spread favorites for Tuesday’s game against the West Virginia. Current College Basketball Public Betting Information shows that 64% of more than 297 bets for this game have been placed on the Ohio St –3.

In 2006-07, freshman center Greg Oden led Ohio State to the NCAA title game, losing to Florida. He jumped to the NBA after dominating in the paint for one season with the Buckeyes.

Last year, Kosta Koufos gave Ohio State a strong inside presence as the team went on to win the National Invitation Tournament, but he also decided to turn pro.

The Buckeyes (9-0) have won 15 straight dating back to its first-round victory in the NIT last season, and they have yet another 7-footer trying to make an impact.

Coach Thad Matta has eased Mullens, considered one of the top big man recruits in the nation, into Ohio State's rotation. But on Monday night, Mullens broke out with a 19-point effort in an 83-59 win over UNC-Asheville.

"It's definitely coming easier," Mullens said. "As the season goes on, it's going to come a lot easier."

Mullens had never played more than 20 minutes nor scored more than 11 points. He dominated versus the Bulldogs, though, going 8-of-11 from the field - including six dunks - while adding eight rebounds and three blocked shots.

"He's growing into it. He's getting better," Matta said. "It's the consistency. He did a better job on his post-ups, he did a better job on his finishes, he moved on penetration, and was a little more active defensively."

Still, Ohio State needs consistency from Mullens with Big Ten play starting Wednesday against Iowa.

For the third straight season, Matta is working with a team comprised almost entirely of freshmen and sophomores.

The Buckeyes have no seniors, and junior captain David Lighty will miss at least six more weeks after undergoing surgery on his broken foot on Dec. 18. Most of the playing time is going to first- and second-year players.

Sophomore swingman Evan Turner leads Ohio State with 16.9 points, 6.8 rebounds and 3.1 assists per game. But he's also turned the ball over 3.6 times a contest, and needs Mullens to draw more of defenses' attention.

Mullens may be headed for another big game against undersized West Virginia (9-2).

The Mountaineers have one player taller than 6-9. Dee Proby is 6-10, but the junior is playing just 8.1 minutes per game.

Alex Ruoff leads West Virginia's backcourt, averaging 17.0 points a contest, and he's coming off an outstanding performance, having scored a career-high 38 to lead the Mountaineers to an 89-54 win over Radford on Tuesday night.

He also set a school record with nine 3-pointers, but missed his last three shots in a bid to become the first player to score 40 points for West Virginia since 1978.

West Virginia coach Bob Huggins fixed a minor flaw in his shooting stroke, and Ruoff shot 12-for-19 overall after making 34.1 percent (15-for-44) in his previous four contests.

"I haven't been shooting it great and I worked with (Huggins) ... and he kind of fixed something with my form with my hand and my thumb," he told the Mountaineers' official Web site. "It's helped a lot and I'm definitely going to listen to whatever he tells me."

Ohio State leads the all-time series with West Virginia 9-5.

Bet Mens College Basketball

Did you like this article? Subscribe to our Basketball news feed for the fastest updates delivered right to you - Click here to Subscribe

Posted: 12/27/08 12:55AM ET

NCAAB Top Stories

Thumbnail Wisconsin vs. Florida Prediction Can Wisconsin pull off the small upset tonight in the Sweet 16 when the Badgers take on Florida at 9:59PM ET?
Thumbnail UCLA vs. Kentucky Pick The featured game of tonight’s NCAA Tournamenthas No. 2 Kentuckytaking on No. 3 UCLAin a battle of historic powers at 9:39PM ET.
Thumbnail South Carolina vs. Baylor Prediction Will Baylor end South Carolina's run tonight in the Sweet 16 when the two programs clash at 7:29PM ET?
Thumbnail Butler vs. North Carolina Pick Will No. 1 North Carolina have any trouble with No. 4 Butler when the two meet up today in the NCAA Tournament at...
Thumbnail Xavier vs. Arizona Prediction Is Arizona laying too many points to Xavier in tonight's NCAA tournament Sweet 16 matchup at 10:09PM ET?

NCAAB Headlines

NCAAB Team Pages