Five Things We Learned in OSU's win over Indiana

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Last updated: 02/27/2011 11:06 PM
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Men's Basketball
Five Things We Learned
By Brandon Castel

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Heading into Sunday’s game against Indiana, Ohio State was hoping to have a chance to lock up at least a tie for the regular season Big Ten championship.

That went out the window with Purdue’s 20-point win over Michigan State in East Lansing, but the Buckeyes played like a team on the brink of a championship.

Deshaun Thomas scored 22 points off the bench and William Buford added 15 as Ohio State beat the Hoosiers 82-61.

We take a look at the five things we learned from Sunday’s win.

1. Indiana is really, really bad. This falls under the “tells us something we didn’t already know” category, but as someone who had not seen the Hoosiers up close this season, I was blown away by how bad they were. I was in New Orleans covering the Sugar Bowl when Ohio State buried them by 18 in Bloomington, and this game was much, much worse. The Buckeyes have faced some bad teams this year, but no one anywhere near this bad. Northwestern and Iowa are the other two teams at the bottom of the Big Ten standings, and both of them are considerably better than Tom Crean’s squad. They don’t seem to have one guy who wants the ball or one guy who changes the game at either end. Ohio State could have won this game with without Jared Sullinger and William Buford.

2. Crean is a bit of a baby.  Anyone who saw Crean’s haftime tirade had to wonder what was up with this guy. It’s no secret that there is no love lost between he and Thad Matta, but Sunday was a little ridiculous. Crean said he marched out to where Matta was talking to the referees because he didn’t think there should be a “free conference with the officials at halftime.”

That’s fine, but maybe Crean should have been more worried about the fact his team was down 15 points at halftime despite the fact OSU was without Sullinger for all but three minutes. Crean continued his trantrum after the game, which Indiana lost by 21 points, by refusing to do his post-game press conference in the designated interview room. Instead, Crean forced reporters to wait 30 minutes in the hallway before allowing them into his personal dressing room, where he sat perched on the counter top.

3. Thomas has something special about him. There is no arguing that Deshaun Thomas has had an up and down freshman year, with more downs than ups. This guy was one of the great scorers in all of high school basketball, but hadn’t found his niche with the Buckeyes. Matta kept telling him to be ready and that this team needed him, and when the time came, Thomas delivered. There are few bench players in the country who can light up the scoreboard like Thomas. When his shot is on, and he’s feeling it, Thomas is as dangerous at the offensive end as they come. He can shoot the three and he’s not afraid to go inside for tough baskets around the rim. He demonstrated both Sunday, along with his ability to rebound the basketball. He may never put it all together this year, but Thomas has something special. If he stays for 3-4 years, he could become one of the premier players in all of college basketball.

4. Sullinger needs to stay out of foul trouble. The Buckeyes are fortunate Thomas played as well as he did Sunday, because they got very little from Sullinger. They are also fortunate they were playing Indiana, because they still would have won the game without both of them. There’s definitely a noticeable difference with this team, however, when Sullinger is not on the floor. He played only three minutes in the first half because of foul trouble, and the Buckeyes seemed lost offensively until Thomas started knocking down shots. If Sullinger isn’t on the floor, then they almost have to have someone nailing shots the way Thomas did, or William Buford has shown he can do. More importantly, Sullinger has to find a way to stay out of foul trouble. He has to realize teams are going to try to get him out of the game and he has to be smarter than what he showed Sunday against Indiana. When he’s in the game, teams must defend Ohio State much differently than when he’s on the bench. His ability to draw double-teams is something Dallas Lauderdale cannot bring to the table, no matter how well he plays.

5. Buckeyes are fortunate to have Lauderdale. With the emergence of Sullinger this season, there are many who have forgotten what Lauderdale meant to this team last year. He hasn’t always played well, but Lauderdale was the starting center on a team that won the Big Ten and went to the Sweet 16 a year ago. He is still considered a starter, but certainly doesn’t play starters minutes. In fact, he really isn’t thought of at all…until the Buckeyes need him. They needed him in a big way Sunday with Sullinger in foul trouble, and Lauderdale delivered. He gave them eight points and six rebounds off the bench to go with his defense. He isn’t always in position, but he’s a formidable foe at the rim. Lauderdale won’t be the key to winning a national title this year, but you count on him having to come up big in at least one game during the tournament if the Buckeyes are going to get that far.  

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