Buford, Buckeyes, Bust Out Of Road Slumps, Reclaim Top Spot In Big Ten
By Ben Axelrod
Earlier this week, Ohio State senior guard William Buford said that he knew what he needed to do to snap out of a month-long shooting slump.
On Saturday, he proved it.
Buford scored a game-high 15 points in 28 minutes and sophomore forward Deshaun Thomas added 14 points as the No. 6 Buckeyes (17-3, 5-2) picked up a 79-45 road win over Nebraska (10-9, 2-6). The win launched OSU back atop the Big Ten standings and into a three-way tie for the conference lead with Michigan and Michigan State.
Perhaps fittingly considering how conference play has began not only for the Buckeyes, but for the rest of the league, OSU’s win over the Cornhuskers didn’t start out as a pretty one.
Nebraska jumped out to an 8-5lead in the first four minutes of the game before a 19-6 OSU run put the Buckeyes up 24-14 with five minutes left in the first half. A weaving Aaron Craft found junior forward Evan Ravenel for a buzzer-beating jump hook to give OSU a 36-20 lead heading into halftime in Lincoln.
The second half wasn’t any kinder for the Huskers, who fell behind by as many as 34 points after intermission. The Buckeyes stretched what was a 12-2 run to close the first half into a 17-2 run to put the game well out of reach early in the second half.
Nearly a week after scoring a career-high 28 points against Indiana, sophomore guard Lenzelle Smith, Jr. scored two points on 1-of-4 shooting and committed four personal fouls. OSU sophomore Jared Sullinger added 14 points and five rebounds for the Buckeyes.
OSU’s big lead allowed OSU coach Thad Matta to delve into his bench and give extended minutes to freshmen Sam Thompson, Shannon Scott, LaQuinton Ross and Amir Williams, as well as sophomores Jordan Sibert and J.D. Weatherspoon. Sibert, who’s fallen out of the Buckeyes’ rotation lately, scored six points.
The Buckeyes forced Nebraska into a season-high 25 turnovers and no Nebraska player scored in double-digits. The strong defensive effort was certainly a welcome one for an OSU squad that has struggled with its defensive intensity away from Columbus.
Also welcomed for the Buckeyes was the outburst from Buford, who went 6-of-12 from the field, including three makes from beyond the 3-point arc. The senior guard’s three 3-pointers were the most he’s made since he sank five 3-pointers on Dec. 28 against Northwestern.
Buford will look to continue his improved play and the Buckeyes will look to maintain their place atop the standings on Wednesday when they’ll host Penn State (10-10, 2-5) at 6:30 in their first meeting with the Nittany Lions this season.
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