The Buckeye Watch
By Tony Gerdeman
Another good win in a place that's tough to win in. I could get used to this.
The Buckeyes started strong early on offense, but it was how uncomfortable they made the Gophers on the both ends that seemed to be the difference in their 82-69 win over the 20th-ranked team in the nation.
Minnesota never looked relaxed in any facet, and for much of the second half, it didn't even look like they wanted to be playing basketball. When a team can come into your house and make you wish you were somewhere—anywhere—else, then you have just been beaten on several different levels, and possibly on at least three separate dimensions. (Though scientists are still working out the kinks on that theory.)
Regardless of the validity of multi-dimensional basketball theory, there is no arguing that the Buckeyes are now 24-0, and the Gophers can go ahead and suck it.
2:00 Looks like a packed house at Williams Arena, but that place is so dark it's impossible to tell.
2:02 ESPN tells me that Minnesota's Rodney Williams “has been an enigma for far too long”. He's a sophomore. The same could have been said—and probably was—about Evan Turner as a sophomore.
2:03 Trevor Mbakwe is a monster, and like most monsters, you don't ever really see that much of him because he tends to disappear for long periods of time. Still, he is going to make a fine NFLer some day.
2:04 Good sign. David Lighty just hit a deep baseline two. When he's hitting his shots, the Buckeyes haven't been beaten this season.
2:05 Good sign. David Lighty just went to the basket with ease. When he's driving and scoring, the Buckeyes are undefeated this season.
2:10 Good sign. David Lighty just turned the ball over. When he's turning the ball over, the Buckeyes have yet to lose this season.
2:11 Deep three from the top of the world by Jon Diebler. He's now six threes away from the Big Ten record. Buckeyes lead it 12-6.
2:14 Diebler with another three. The magic number is now five. (For Bengals and Browns fans, a “magic number” is a term used to count something down to an historic moment.)
2:15 If Blake Hoffarber isn't part Crispin, I'll eat my hat. Now where did I put that nacho hat...
2:17 So far Thad Matta's remarks that people are getting ridiculous with the fouls on Jared Sullinger aren't working. Sullinger just grabbed an amazing rebound, dipped a shoulder and went straight up with the ball and was called for an offensive foul. He's forced to play as hard as he's getting played, but Ed Hightower simply won't allow it.
2:20 So far Minnesota is allowed to crash down low and the Buckeyes just happen to be the crash test dummies. Nobody ever cares about the crash test dummies. Even when the crash test dummy gets home from work, his wife doesn't even ask how his day went because she already knows. He crashed cars into walls. That's what he does. Sure, the first week or two it provided conversation at the dinner table, but after thirteen years of marriage, what is there to talk about? “How was the wall crashing, honey?” “It was crashy.”
2:22 The Gophers are getting blatant with the way they're hitting Sullinger on both ends. Hey, there's a three-pointer for Buford from the top of the key. He's pretty good today.
2:26 David Lighty with a nice three despite a hand in his face. Buckeyes lead it 28-16 now. Not sure why they're guarding him because Ohio State is undefeated when teams defend Lighty.
2:27 Terrible charging call on Buford just now. He avoided the defender planted in the paint, and hit him with his hip. That's generally a blocking call. Refs, man. If I ever have a son, and he tells me that he wants to be a referee, yeah I'll be disappointed. I'll think about how I wanted him to grow up to be a contributor to society, like a doctor or a hitman. It would definitely take a long time for me to accept it. While at social gatherings, when people ask what my son grew up to become, I will probably just change the subject and say something like, “Can you believe what Supreme Chancellor Bieber said!?”
2:31 David Lighty with a step-back perimeter make. When Lighty is on like this, there is nobody that can beat this team. Buckeyes lead it 30-20.
2:41 Ohio State just blew about six offensive rebounds. Deshaun Thomas was down low and he should've kicked it out, but...y'know...
2:43 Sully misses two free throws, but Thomas grabbed another offensive rebound—his 24th today—and lays it in for two. Buckeyes lead it 36-28 with two minutes to play.
2:44 Thomas has now taken a shot on three of Ohio State's last four possessions. The Buckeyes have two points to show for it.
2:46 The first half is over. Buckeyes lead it 38-30. They're not letting the Gophers set up any type of offense, and the Gophers are obliging by not really trying to.
2:57 Ohio State ended on a 10-0 run according to ESPN. I don't believe that is correct. In fact, I know it isn't.
2:59 The Buckeyes are only shooting 43.7% from the field in the first half. What happens if they get hot in the second?
3:01 Ohio State has eleven offensive rebounds. I think seven of them came on two possessions.
3:03 Game on. Mbakwe gets a quick and-one on Sullinger. Let's see if the calls go both ways.
3:05 Sullinger again gets his shot blocked under the basket. Or “gets his shot blocked”. Even if it's clean, refs still tend to call that stuff. NO BLOCKING THAT ONE, however! An inbounds alley-oop to Dallas Lauderdale punishes the rim. Poor rim. Get away from the rims!! Dallas hates the rims!!!
3:06 Ha! The refs missed Lauderdale blocking a dunk by putting his hand through the bottom of the basket. So typical.
3:09 Offensive rebound and an and-one for Sullinger. I'm not even sure how he grabbed that rebound, but I wouldn't be surprised if there were stray fingers still attached to it. Collateral digital damage.
3:11 Lauderdale has three dunks this half and eight points total. He's done a great job today with Aaron Craft's minutes. Since Minnesota doesn't have a point guard, the Buckeyes don't need as much from Craft, especially when the Gophers' size is such an issue.
3:12 Sullinger just went down hard and is slow to get up. This is exactly what Matta was talking about. Iverson gave him an elbow under the chin. We're going to commercial. I wonder if we'll see a replay.
3:13 Dan Dakich calls it a flop. He's not wrong. He also says Sully should have been called for a foul for his defense. He's just doing what others do to him. Simple.
3:17 This game is getting chippy. Good job by the refs to allow this to happen.
3:18 The Buckeyes are missing free throws like Shaq after 14 cases of Red Bull.
3:21 The Gophers have spent the last five minutes trying to get fouled. The Buckeyes have spent the last 28 minutes trying to score, and the Buckeyes lead 51-41 because of it.
3:23 This game sums up Gopher basketball history pretty nicely. It's not so much basketball as it is battleball.
3:31 There's an and-one for Sullinger against the weaker Ralph Sampson. Another free throw missed, however. He is now 0-5 from the line. He's actually a good shooter, but it's starting to look like he's getting the yips.
3:32 Diebler and Lighty going high and low, leaving an open Diebler for three. Buckeyes lead it 58-44. Diebler moves to third all-time in the conference in three-pointers made.
3:34 Sullinger to Craft, and the pride of Northwest Ohio hits the baseline three. Buckeyes lead it by 15 now with eight minutes to play. Just think where this team would be without contributions from the upper left-hand corner of the state. No Craft, no William Buford, no Ballreich's.
3:41 Aaron Craft blows right by Ralph Sampson who somehow got stuck on him up top. Don't put centers on him if you don't want him to run right by them.
3:44 Craft gets called for a foul underneath fighting 6'9” guys for a rebound. Not sure what the call was. “Under the back”?
3:45 Buford drains a ridiculous three with a hand in his face. Buckeyes lead it 72-56 with just over four minutes remaining. What if players drew a rim on their hand, and when they went up to defend a shot, the shooter would see their hand and forget which rim they're shooting at. Or maybe a scary clown. Nobody's gonna be able to focus on a rim with a scary clown in their face.
3:47 Lighty just ran a 4.38 on his way to the basket for the and-one.
3:52 Beautiful spin move followed by a one-handed release for an easy two by Sullinger. Like a bull in a china shop if the bull knew ballet.
3:54 Ralph Sampson doesn't look like he enjoys basketball. But then, Minnesota doesn't really play basketball, so it's understandable.
3:56 Lenzelle Smith and Jordan Sibert are in the game now with the Buckeyes leading 81-65 with 1:08 to play. I think this one is over.
3:58 Ball game. Buckeyes win it 82-69 and move to 24-0 and 11-0 in the Big Ten.
4:00 Another good win against a good team. This was one of those games people pointed to as a possible loss for the Buckeyes. OSU clearly took the Gophers seriously, but now things are about to get really real. They play at Madison on Saturday and play in a building that they've never won in before. Since this team is doing things that no other Ohio State teams have done, why stop now? They've got five days to figure out how to control the crowd, the refs and Bo Ryan. If they can control those three, the game won't be a problem. But that's one of those things that's easier to say than it is to do. Like flying a plane, or finding a basketball game with three competent refs.
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