Oden, Hunter expected to play against Purdue

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Ohio State center Greg Oden left the
Buckeyes on Tuesday to return to his childhood home in Terre Haute,
Ind., for the funeral of a close friend killed in a car accident
last weekend.

Travis Smith, Oden's best friend from his adolescent years, was
killed in an automobile accident on Saturday night in Muncie, Ind.
Smith was a freshman at Ball State and a member of the golf team.

Also, junior forward Othello Hunter lost both a grandmother and
a grandfather over the past week in their native Africa.

"Sunday was really a tough day, as guys were finding out,"
coach Thad Matta said. "We've got a great group of guys and they
feel the pain and the hurt that a couple of their teammates are
going through."

Both players are expected to play when they the fourth-ranked Buckeyes visit
Purdue on Wednesday night.

Oden, who went to high school in Indianapolis, learned of
Smith's death after the Buckeyes beat Michigan State 66-64 on
Saturday night.

The 7-foot freshman practiced with the team on Sunday and Monday
before leaving to attend visiting hours at the funeral home. He
remained in Indiana on Tuesday afternoon and evening, missing the
Buckeyes' practice and trip to West Lafayette, Ind., and was to attend Smith's funeral on Wednesday morning. Oden will then rejoin
his teammates.

"He is going through a lot right now," guard Jamar Butler
said. "He's a tough kid. He's going to deal with it. He'll be
fine. Over time, he'll get better and better."

Hunter, who often teams with Oden in the frontcourt, remained
with the team. He is from Winston-Salem, N.C., and played last
season at Hillsborough Community College in Tampa, Fla.