Buckeyes Win Season Opener, Defeat Morgan State 89-50

Written November 9th, 2013 by Eric

The Ohio State Buckeyes welcomed the Morgan State Golden Bears to Value City Arena to open the season. From the get-go the Bucks had no trouble with the Bears, eventually closing out a 89-50 victory. The Buckeyes were led in scoring by Lenzelle Smith Jr. who dropped 18 points and added 7 rebounds and 2 assists to his stat line. He was joined in double digits by Shannon Scott’s 16, LaQuiton Ross’s and Sam Thompson’s 14, and Marc Loving’s 10. LaQuiton Ross also added 11 rebounds for a double double on the day. Morgan State was led in scoring by Justin Black with 13, followed by Ian Chiles with 12, and Anthony Hubbard with 11.

The game started with two incredible surprises. The first was the starting lineup which was a three guard, two forward arrangement of Aaron Craft, Shannon Scott, Lenzelle Smith, Sam Thompson and Amir Williams. The particular surprise is that Sam Thompson was replaced by LaQuinton Ross at the first dead ball less than a minute into the game. The second big surprise was the shooting of Shannon Scott who hit three of four three point attempts in the first four minutes of the game, including hitting his first three straight.

Given the talent on this team, and the distribution of scoring, it is possible that we will see a variable starting lineup during the season. During the exhibition, the Buckeyes started a 2 guard, 3 forward lineup. That could have been an experiment for a game that didn’t count, but it could be a sign that Matta will start players in reaction to the opponent’s strengths. Either way, it’s something worth paying attention to during the season.

The Buckeyes displayed the typically strong defense of Matta teams, but also displayed a nice tendency to distribute the basketball. On several occasions, players passed on an ok shot to provide a pass to a player with a better look. The Bucks also used the dribble drive to open up shooters on the arc, forcing Morgan State’s defense to collapse into the lane. Interestingly, this team seemed to favor the three point shot more than previous OSU teams, shooting roughly 50% of their shots beyond the arc. Considering the opponent, this is clearly a sign that this team is more of a shooting squad than an inside game.

Morgan State found themselves in a hole early, but quickly regained their composure and began to keep pace with the Buckeyes. The Golden Bears were not bashful about this game, and fought hard on the defensive end to limit the Bucks chances. They were also aggressive on offense, and displayed hustle to make something of their fast break chances. By playing tough, the Bears were able to close the gap in the shot attempts column which allowed them to keep the Buckeyes from opening a bigger lead on them.

As the half came to a close, the Bucks finally began to get some traction on the scoreboard. The defense began to put pressure on Morgan State, forcing turnovers and creating fast break opportunities. As we’ve learned in previous years, when the OSU defense is playing well the offense starts to turn on. That seems to be just as true this year, as the defense led the Buckeyes to a 19-4 run over a six minute span to end the half. The Buckeyes finished the half with a surprisingly small lineup, running Ross at the 5, with Craft, Smith, ADV and Sam Thompson rounding out the group.

Impressively, the Buckeyes shooting was helped out by the great passing from the team. For the first half, the Bucks hit 17 shots with 9 assists. The shots taken were generally quality open looks with few questionable decisions. Lots of open looks were available from the perimeter, and the Buckeyes did not hesistate to take advantage of it.

The big guys down low are playing with better toughness than they have since Jared Sullinger left. They fight hard for rebounds and have greatly improved in boxing out opponents down low. But one big concern is their presence on the offensive end. Amir Williams continues to struggle at taking the ball to the rim, continuing to have it poked away down low. It also seems like the Bucks aren’t necessarily looking to feed the ball down low, preferring to score either on the perimeter or with the dribble drive. We’ll have to see if that changes down the line.

The Buckeyes had a very solid shooting day today hitting 47.7% (31-65) from the floor and 44% (11-25) from three point range. Morgan State responded with a more pedestrian 30.8% (20-65) from the floor and 16.7% (3-18) from three. Ohio State dominated the stat sheet in rebounds (55-33), assists (18-7), and blocks (5-0).

The Buckeyes next play Ohio University in Value City Arena on Tuesday, November 12th. You’ll be able to see that game at 8 PM Eastern Time on the Big Ten Network.

1 Comment

  1. KenNo Gravatar
    November 9th, 2013 at 3:15 pm

    Nice recap, Eric. Let’s see how this team does on Tuesday; I’m looking forward to it!

    [Reply]

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