If there was anyone in Buckeye Nation still questioning whether the Ohio State Buckeyes could compete with the top teams in the nation, tonight was a true testament to what Ohio State basketball is about when it’s clicking all cylinders. In tonight’s 85-63 win it became apparent that there is nobody as dynamic as the Ohio State Buckeyes when they are on their A game.
Whether it was scoring in the post, hitting the outside shot, or running the floor, The Buckeyes had it Tuesday night against the Duke Blue Devils. After starting the game on a 11-0 run, The Blue Devils fought back with a 13-2 tear of their own. It looked like we had one of the most competitive games of the season between these two teams.
Early in the first half though,tonight’s hosting team put on a clinic for NBA superstars Dwayne Wade and LeBron James in attendance. If anything could be learned in Columbus on Tuesday night, it was that the NBA’s elite were being taught a lesson from this electrifying college basketball program heading into the holiday season.
The key to winning ballgames isn’t taking your talent to South Beach. All you got to do is put together a team effort on defense, score in the transition, and grind out any type of opposing run with timely defense and control of the basketball.
And then of course it doesn’t hurt when you have a Tank with a heat seeking missile, a senior sharpshooting dagger, and a battering ram in the post.
Deshaun Thomas helped give Ohio State a 19 point lead at the half and added ten straight Buckeye points from the end of the first half and into the beginning of the 2nd. He took his game to a new level — pinpointed the perfect time to shoot, and combining it with finding the open man on the court. He finished the game with 18 points on 8-12 shooting and 5 rebounds.
William Buford continued his hot streak off the screen and in open space. Time after time the Duke guards couldn’t contain him off the dribble. He continued his defensive improvement on the court. He torched the Blue Devils with 20 points on 8-15 shooting and 2-3 from beyond the arc.
Jared Sullinger was a monster in the post, struggling at times early, but putting in another dominant performance. After realizing the Duke defense was keying in on his jumper, he settled in the post — scoring a Buckeye high 21 points. He also brought down 8 rebounds on the night
Aaron Craft continued to take his game to the next level. Big time jumpers, running the offense, forcing turnovers on defense, and dishing the basketball all over the court with precision. His offensive game continues to vastly improve and evolve every night out. He looked as comfortable as he ever has, tallying an OSU high 8 assists and 17 points.
As unbelievable as it is, the backcourt continued to show it’s improvement on defense. Just when you thought it couldn’t get better, Aaron Craft, William Buford, and Lenzelle Smith shut down the likes of Austin Rivers and Seth Curry with authority. Curry, who is considered one of the better three point shooters in the nation, was held to just 1-6 from downtown. Rivers led the Blue Devils with 22 points, and shot extremely well from the field, but was forced to take jump shots, instead of driving to the hoop.
Though Duke shot 49% from the field, their offensive transition game was shut down by the top notch athletic ability of the Ohio State defense. They could never grab momentum after answering Ohio State’s 11-0 run to start the game. A lot of that had to do with Thad Matta sticking to most of his starting five throughout the whole ballgame. The bench tonight contributed less than ten minutes all night, while four starters were in double figures scoring.
The Buckeyes shot 59% from the field and 57% from three point territory.
Up next for the best basketball team in the nation? A Saturday date with the Texas-Pan American Broncs at 12 PM ET.