Thomas Keys Win

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Last updated: 12/29/2012 6:57 PM

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Men's Basketball
Thomas Keys Buckeyes in Final Non-Conference Bout
By Brandon Castel

It started slow, but the Buckeyes eventually found their footing during a 87-44 blowout of Chicago State in the final non-conference game of the 2012-13 season.

Preseason All-American Deshaun Thomas scored 17 points and grabbed eight rebounds during Ohio State’s first game since the Buckeyes dropped a 74-66 game against visiting Kansas last Saturday.

Some of the offensive issues that plagued OSU against the Jayhawks carried over to the first half of Saturday’s game in Columbus, which also happened to be the first game on Ohio State’s new floor at Value City Arena.

The 10th-ranked Buckeyes (10-2) fell behind 12-10 in the first seven minutes against the visiting Cougars (3-12), as Thad Matta’s group returned from Christmas break with a lackluster performance in the early going.

Thomas tied the game at 12 on a layup with 11:40 to play in the first half, and his next two baskets keyed a 16-5 Buckeyes run. Ohio State took a 26-17 with 3:57 left in the half and led 37-24 at the break, thanks to a 27-12 run to close out the first half.

After scoring 16 points against Kansas, Thomas had 12 of his game-high 17 points in the first half of Saturday’s game. Lenzelle Smith, Jr. also added 11 points in the first half, while sophomore Amir Williams added four points, four rebounds and a block in the first start of his Ohio State career.

After 40 games coming off the bench, Williams was tabbed as the starting center against Chicago State, a move that turned out to be beneficial for everyone. Senior Evan Ravenel went to the bench, but chipped in with five points and 10 rebounds in 16 minutes off the bench.

The Buckeyes shot 55 percent in the first half, but they were a combined 2-of-9 from behind the arc. Those two makes came from Smith Jr. and Aaron Craft, but Ohio State was much better from long range in the second half.

Thomas hit one of his two bombs from behind the arc, but really showed off his passing ability in this game. He tied a career-high with four assists, but should get some extra credit for degree of difficulty.

Sophomore splashed down a pair of shots from behind the arc, finishing with 15 points and three rebounds in 21 minutes off the bench. Freshman Amedeo Della Valle knocked in a trio of threes, to finish with a career-high 11 points, and the Buckeyes shot nearly 60 percent from the floor in the second half as they pulled from Chicago State for a 43-point win.

The Buckeyes outrebounded Chicago State 36-19 in this game, and scored all 12 of the game’s second-chance points. They had 40 points in the paint and assisted on 20 of their 33 made baskets against a Chicago State team that was clearly overmatched from the get-go.

It was the final tune-up for the Buckeyes before they open Big Ten play on Wednesday when they host Nebraska (9-4) at 6:30 p.m. ET on Big Ten Network.

Box Score

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