After a tough, hard-fought, game against the Rhode Island Rams, the Buckeyes took on the Washington Huskies in their final game of the Hall of Fame Tip-Off. After an even start in the early going, the Buckeyes took a lead late in the first half and never relinquished it on the way to a 77-66 win. DeShaun Thomas led all scorers with 31 points, tying his career high, while also picking up 8 rebounds and 4 assists. Aaron Craft followed with 18, and Evan Ravenel with 12 as Buckeyes with double digits in scoring. Washington’s C.J. Wilcox led their team with 18, and was joined by Abdul Gaddy (15) and Scott Suggs (11).
The Buckeyes did a much better job today of warming up into this game from the get go rather than slowly easing their way into it. DeShaun Thomas pretty much took care of that by himself with his incredible early shooting. As a whole, though, the team did enough to keep the game competitive until they were able to get one of their patented late first-half runs and go into the half up 10. They were then able to stave off Washington through the second half to maintain that lead, mostly, through the end.
Overall, the team is improving from game to game. This is definitely what we wanted to see in the early going, especially with the young guys down low. Players are stepping up and taking care of their roles on the floor, and are quickly learning how to play their positions better. Amir Williams in particular is showing growth as he begins to move around in the paint a bit on offense. A lot of this has to be due to the improved playing time for everyone.
1. DeShaun Thomas scoring early. Tank clearly took over this game from the beginning. He started out 7/7 shooting through the first 8 minutes and ended up scoring 18 points in 12.5 minutes of play. He ended up tying his career high with 31 points, originally picked up against Loyola in the first round of the 2012 NCAA tournament.
2. Team defense. With a few exceptions, the Buckeyes did a very good job of working together on defense. They pulled a few turnovers out of the Huskies simply by overwhelming their ball-carrier and forcing him to make a bad pass. They made good use of the sidelines as an extra man as well.
3. Fast break effort. The Buckeyes have always been very good at the fast break, but they really took advantage of Washington on a couple great plays. The most beautiful was a cherry-picking pass to Thomas for an unguarded reverse layup.
4. Youth time on the floor. Matta allowed Amir Williams, LaQuinton Ross, and Shannon Scott to play their time and make their mistakes. And they certainly made their share of mistakes, but the lessons they learn in the early season will pay dividends come February.
5. High intensity through 40 minutes. Every single Buckeye gave their full effort their entire time on the court tonight. It was refreshing to see Washington begin to close the gap, only to have the Buckeyes adjust and run away with the score. Before Washington could react, OSU had a 13
1. Perimeter defense. Washington started shooting 66% from the floor, and the opponent’s three point shooting is still a big issue. Worse yet, the players are suffering miscommunication on the perimeter and occasionally giving up wide open looks. This especially needs to improve late in games when teams are likely to be popping plenty of treys.
2. Amir Williams’ free throw shooting. We were spoiled the last 2 years with Jared Sullinger being such a good free throw shooter. Amir Williams is going to spend lots of time drawing fouls this year, but unless he can hit his shots from the charity stripe, it won’t mean much.
3. Fouling. Buckeye teams in the past have always been characterized by high steals, high fouls drawn on the other team, and low foul play. For today, the Buckeyes seemed to have issues with some of the fouling. Aaron Craft ended up with 4 along with Shannon Scott, and Amir Williams picked up a triplet.
The Buckeyes will next face the UMKC Kangaroos in Value City Arena on Friday, November 23rd. You’ll be able to see that game on the Big Ten Network.