Sam Thompson put his full game on display tonight with a 20 point/10 rebound double-double to lead OSU in a rout of their 1st round opponent Iona, 95-70.
Ah, the ebbs and flows of NCAA tournament basketball. Ohio State went on a tear midway through the 1st half (from about the 17 minute mark to the 9 minute mark) expanding their lead from 6-5 to 27-8. Times were good and we settles in to watch the rout. Except if you’re at all familiar with OSU basketball this year, it wasn’t about to last. Over the next seven minutes, the Gaels outscored the Bucks 25-10 to pull within 4 points, 37-33. Ohio State strung together the final 6 points to go into the break with a 43-33 lead.
Even though the Buckeyes shot well in the 1st half, 50% FG, 75% 3-pt, 80% Ft, it was the defense that powered this team. Ohio State (read Aaron Craft) forced 7 turnovers and converted them into 13 points, several on Sam Thompson you-know-whats.
In addition to the 7 turnovers, OSU blocked 5 Iona shots, 3 by Evan Ravenal.
Ohio State needed to come out and regain their focus in 2nd half to put Iona away. Knowing a good thing when they see it, OSU right away went to their strengths; Sam Thompson, DeShaun Thomas and defense. At the 15 minute mark, led by Craft and Shannon Scott, OSU had already forced 5 turnovers and expanded the 10 point halftime lead to 20 points. At about the 10:30 mark Iona’s David Laury fouled out. At that point, any semblance of a front court game went to the bench as well. At about the same time with the 25-point or so lead, Thad began to rest his starters. At the 5:38 ,ark, in an effort to spark his offense, Thad inserted Amedeo Della Valle (FHM).
In somewhat of a defense of Iona, as good as David Laury (14 points, 8 rebounds) and Sean Armond (17 points, 4 assists, 6 rebounds) played tonight, this was an athletic mismatch, without any doubt at all. The Gaels played true to form with a very upbeat pace, but were often enough stymied at the offensive end by OSU’s length, quickness and athleticism.
The Ohio State box score looked pretty good; hard to look bad when you win by 25 points. Aaron Craft ( 4 points,7 assists,6 steals) Sam Thompson ( 20 points, 10 rebounds) DeShaun Thomas (24 points, 3 rebounds) Evan Ravenal (11 points,4 rebounds,3 blocks). For the full box score, go here, it was a thing of beauty.
On Sunday, Ohio State plays the winner of the Iowa State – Notre Dame game, played played later tonight.