The Winthrop Eagles arrived in Columbus ready to give the Buckeyes more than they wanted, and despite the 65-55 final score they certainly succeeded. The Eagles took advantage of a seriously hot-handed shooting night from beyond the arc, hitting 38.5% of their three point attempts to keep the game close most of the way through. DeShaun Thomas led all scorers with 21 points to go with his 9 rebounds. He was joined in double digits by Lenzelle Smith’s 14, and Derrick Henry’s 12.
The first half was easily described by the microcosm that was the last 10 seconds of the period. The Buckeyes put together a good play, got a wide open look for Thomas from long range. He missed it, which was quickly followed by a missed put-back by Aaron Craft. The Buckeyes for the half went 10-29 shooting, combined with a number of sloppy, unfocused plays that cost them possessions (but with limited actual turnovers). In response, Withrop sank a number of looks from outside, and took it to the Buckeyes inside to force OSU into 8 first half fouls – one of their highest totals of the season for a half.
Unfortunately, there was not a big change at the start of the second half. The Buckeyes struggled to get traction with their continued shooting slump, and Winthrop continued to rain in shots from long range. Eventually, DeShaun Thomas shook off his terrible 2-11 shooting start, hitting 5 straight buckets to give the Bucks some much needed momentum. It was enough to give the Bucks a temporary double digit lead, but Winthrop was not going to go away so easily.
Give Winthrop lots of credit. They are a pretty solid fundamental basketball team and simply forced the Buckeyes to play the Eagle’s game. In particular, they used good passing to put OSU’s defense on their heels, and used it to get good shots. They also took advantage of a hot shooting night from long range, far exceeding their usual 29% shooting percentage (they were hitting 50%, 9-18, mid-way through the 2nd period). They ultimately scored 30 of their points from long range – mostly on ugly shots that went in despite
1. This wasn’t against Kansas. If we had started this poorly against Kansas, we’re down at least 15 at the half.
2. Passing, when it happened. DeShaun Thomas put a fantastic pass straight into Amir William’s mitts for the dunk and one. Aaron Craft had another redirection pass to outmove the Eagle’s defense and feed Ravenel down low on another play. When they went to the passing game, the offense was particularly successful.
1. The Bucks completely and utterly failed at taking the Eagles seriously. I’m not sure what was going on in OSU’s minds tonight (other than Kansas, obviously) but they sure did not look like a team that wanted to play this basketball game. They never bothered to get into their offense, probably starting from when DeShaun Thomas put in two quick baskets early in the shot clock. After that, there was limited passing, and even less effort. It only took about 16 minutes of the game for them to finally start to lock in.
2. Evan Ravenel did not have the ball in his hands often enough. This team is a lot better when he gets things going down low early. It forces the opponent to respect Ravenel’s play, allowing the other scorers to find decent looks at the basket.
The Bucks next face the #10 Kansas Jayhawks in Value City Arena on Saturday, December 22nd. You’ll be able to see that game at 4:00 PM Eastern on CBS.