New-Look Buckeyes Cruise Past Walsh in Exhibition
By Brandon Castel
COLUMBUS, Ohio — Thad Matta said he didn’t think his team was ready to play in their closed scrimmage against Ohio University last week.
After a tough week of practice, the Buckeyes looked ready to go Sunday against Walsh University in their exhibition tune-up before the start of the regular season.
Photo by Jim Davidson
A slimmed down Jared Sullinger picked up where he left off as the National Freshman of the Year. The sophomore forward scored 15 points and added six rebounds in Ohio State’s 95-49 win at Value City Arena.
“We turned it up a little bit,” said junior Evan Ravenel, a transfer from Boston College.
“Last Sunday coach wasn’t pleased with our defense. We didn’t come to play. All week in practice we’ve been going really hard. I thought we were better today.”
Senior William Buford led the Buckeyes with 17 points and five assists while sophomore Jordan Sibert chipped in with 15 points off the bench, including four threes. Ohio State shot 60.7 percent from the floor against the Cavaliers and outrebounded them 46-22 in their lone exhibition game of the season.
“As I said before, this team has a long way to go,” Matta said after the game.
“But there are pieces to the puzzle that could be pretty good for us.”
The main piece to that puzzle is Sullinger, who showed off his newly-sculpted body to go with a more well-rounded offensive game—one that included him knocking down a 15-foot jump shot and a three-pointer from the top of the arc.
“Jared definitely expanded his game,” said Ravenel, Sullinger’s roommate.
“He could do those things when I met him, but he didn’t need to last year. With a different team he expanded his look and it makes us a better team.”
The Buckeyes opened with returning starters Sullinger and Buford on the floor along with point guard Aaron Craft—their sixth man a year ago. Deshaun Thomas and Lenzelle Smith Jr. joined them in the starting lineup, and freshman Shannon Scott was Matta’s first substitution at the timeout.
Thad Matta gives words of encouragement to Shannon Scott
Photo by Jim Davidson
“I talked to Shannon at halftime and told him to breathe,” Matta said after Scott turned the ball over twice, missed both of his shots and committed two fouls in the first half.
“He was so uptight. I remember first time I played as a freshman. He needed something to go right for him, but he’s been tremendous in practice.”
Scott was much better in the second half, but he was overshadowed by fellow freshman Sam Thompson. The Chicago native scored nine points (4-of-4 shooting), grabbed five rebounds and dished out three assists. The lanky wingman also had four steals and two blocks in 17 minutes before tweaking his groin late in the game.
Ravenel chipped in with four points and eight rebounds in 11 minutes while Smith added six points, eight rebounds and three assists from the two-guard spot.
“It was great to be able to rotate so many guys in the game today,” Matta said.
“I think it was good for them. We were able to get them in there to get them used to playing in front of people.”
The Buckeyes will play in front of people for real this coming Friday when they open the regular season against Wright State University (9 p.m. ET, Big Ten Network) before hosting the University of Florida on Nov. 15.
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