First Thoughts; Indiana

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Last updated: 03/06/2013 5:47 AM
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Men's Basketball
First Thoughts From Ohio State's 67-58 Win at Indiana
By Tony Gerdeman

Well this was unexpected.

Leading up to this game, I was expecting a double-digit loss for the Buckeyes, but as the game drew closer, I kept getting this feeling that Ohio State would be able to keep it respectable.

I didn't think they would make it THIS respectable.

Remember when the Buckeyes didn't have have any signature wins? They now have three wins over Top 5 teams, including two in a row by an average margin of victory of 8.5 points.

Ohio State held the #2 Hoosiers to a season-low 58 points, and did it by harassing every shooter they could find, and putting a body on anybody who gave them a stink eye.

The Buckeyes blocked seven Hoosier shots, which helped Indiana to shoot just 39.6% from the field. They also added eight steals (four each by Aaron Craft and Shannon Scott), which further describes the defensive effort put forth by Ohio State.

Offensively, the Buckeyes only put two scorers in double figures, but three others scored at least eight points. That balance underscores the fact that this team can be very, very good whena few shots are falling.

Ohio State didn't shoot 50% in either half, but they had some timely baskets. When you play defense as well as the Buckeyes did tonight, you don't need a perfect offensive game in order to win. You simply need to compete and let the eventual happen.

Great Scott! Look, I've avoided using that header all season, but tonight I had no choice because Shannon Scott was outstanding. No, he still isn't a consistent finisher, but he was a Craftian pest, and that's gotta count for something.

When the score was tied 25-25 late in the first half, it was Scott who stole the ball and advanced it to Aaron Craft, who was fouled while making a layup. Scott then added three more in the second half, including two in the final 3:17.

His first steal of the second half led to an immediate foul, and he sank both free throws. His second steal of the half ended with a Lenzelle Smith dunk. The third came while Indiana was looking to shrink the Buckeyes' eight-point lead. It led to a Lenzelle Smith free throw.

Scott's performance would have been lauded for his defensive performance alone, but he was also pretty darn good on offense. He scored eight points and dished out three assists, but he was also cutting through the lane with relative ease.

If the Buckeyes are going to be as good as they can be, more games like this from Scott will help.

Bizarro Buckeyes. Don't look now, but Sam Thompson has become a much more consistent shooter than Deshaun Thomas. Since the loss to Indiana seven games ago, Thompson is 20-36 (55.6%) from the field over his last six games. Meanwhile, Thomas is 37-99 (37.3%) from the field in that same span.

Thomas finished 6-17 tonight. He looked tired. His shot was short, even his open looks didn't have enough length. He still made some very clutch baskets, however, because that's what All-Americans do.

I'm beginning to wonder if this shooting slump will force him to return to the Buckeyes next season. This is not the way anybody wants to enter the NBA Draft, especially when that player is already a prospect with concerns.

Thompson, meanwhile, was busy taking pull-up jumpers and hitting a three after bobbling a pass. It was really quite surreal. However, it becomes a little more real every single day.

The glimpse that he showed today is why I've said all year long that he's the best pro prospect on the Ohio State roster.

By the way, if Thomas would like to get out of his shooting slump, somebody might want to have him stop jerking his arms down immediately after releasing his shot. There's a reason players don't shoot the ball like that.

Taking Over. There are few things in college basketball more enjoyable to watch than Aaron Craft when he is assertive. When he is commanding the dribble and attacking the basket, it just feels like how basketball should be.

He finished with 15 points on 7-10 shooting, and it seemed like every last one of them were necessary. His four steals were also huge, as was his overall demeanor. This was a very confident Ohio State team, and it was led by Craft.

Quick Thoughts. How about that small lineup for the Buckeyes. Once Cody Zeller went down with foul trouble, Thad Matta was there to jump. With the bigs in the B1G, the small lineup isn't ever going to be customary. ... Evan Ravenel was terrific in this game. Not only did he provide the necessary scoring (eight points) and rebounding (six rebounds), but he brought an energy with him that couldn't be matched by Amir Williams. ... This was simply an amazing win for Thad Matta and his Buckeyes. It was almost as big a win as they got eight years ago today at Illinois.

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