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No. 5 OSU’s LaQuinton Ross snaps out of his slump, hits for 20 in win over Maryland

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Ohio State entered Wednesday night’s Big Ten/ACC Challenge matchup with Maryland ranked No. 5 in the country. The Buckeyes were No. 2 according to Kenpom, which is largely the result of the Buckeye’s stifling defense.

Thad Matta’s team leads the country in defensive efficiency, holding their opponents to 39.0 eFG% (effective field goal percentage), forcing turnovers on nearly a quarter of their possessions and doing so while avoiding fouls.

We knew this was going to happen, however. Aaron Craft might be the best on-ball defender in the country. Shannon Scott may be his biggest challenger for that title. Sam Thompson is an absurd athlete that has the length to bother just about wing player in the country. Add in a big body in Amir Williams in the paint, and, frankly, their defensive prowess should not come as any surprise.

What is somewhat surprising is that the Buckeyes managed to win their first six games, dominating Marquette by holding them to 35 points, despite the fact that LaQuinton Ross has struggled. In his first five games, Ross was averaging 6.2 points and shooting 22.7% from the floor and 22.2% from three. That’s a problem, because the most difficult thing that the Buckeyes have to do this year is replace the scoring of Deshaun Thomas. That was supposed to be Ross’ role.

Well, he’s finally busted out of that slump. On Wednesday night, Ross went for 20 points in Ohio State’s 76-60 win over Maryland. He had 17 points on 6-for-8 shooting, 4-for-5 from three, in the first half. That followed up a 17-point performance — on 6-for-9 shooting, 5-for-8 from three — in a win over North Florida this weekend. Do the math, and Ross scored more points in the last two games than he did the first five, tripling the number of threes he had on the season.

That’s huge for the Buckeyes.

They need Ross’ scoring pop. They need him to hit to averaging around 15 points. They need him to be a go-to guy and a three-point shooter that can spread the floor. That’s his role on this defensive-minded team.

He wasn’t doing that to start the year, but he has the last two games.

North Carolina to wear black jerseys December 19 vs. UCLA

UNC Athletic Communications
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While there have been some alterations made to North Carolina’s basketball uniforms over the years, there haven’t been too many drastic shifts. Of course there was the move to the Alexander Julian-designed argyle print during the 1990’s, and there were also those jerseys in 1999 that had the interlocking “NC” logo as opposed to “North Carolina” on the front.

Friday the program announced a major uniform change for its game against UCLA December 19 in Brooklyn. North Carolina will be wearing black jerseys for the first time in school history. Senior guard Marcus Paige showed off the new look to his teammates, and it’s safe to say that they’re happy with the new uniforms.

Traditionalists probably won’t like the uniforms, and that’s fine. Changes such as these tend to focus more on the younger crowd (especially recruits), which in some instances like the status that can come with having something that’s both new and exclusive.

Villanova forward to undergo hip surgery

Jay Wright
Associated Press
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Two-time defending Big East champion Villanova will be down a man in its front court, as the program announced Friday that freshman forward Tim Delaney will undergo hip surgery. According to the release a torn labrum in Delaney’s left hip is the reason for the surgery, and it has yet to be determined how long the freshman will be sidelined.

“I’m disappointed for Tim,” Villanova head coach Jay Wright said in the release. “Tim had a great summer and preseason. He’s a very coachable young man and was picking up everything we do. The good news is that the doctors tell us this is an injury that can be fixed and we know Tim will be fully committed to his rehab.”

Villanova’s front court rotation will be led by senior Daniel Ochefu, who averaged 9.2 points and a team-high 8.5 rebounds per game in 2014-15. Junior Darryl Reynolds and sophomore Kris Jenkins will also see minutes in the front court, with redshirt freshman guard/forward Mikal Bridges factoring into the competition as well.

Villanova also has Fordham transfer Eric Paschall, but he isn’t eligible to compete in games this season.