Buckeyes Bound Past Roos in Impressive Fashion
By Brandon Castel
It was supposed to be a trap game. Not just because it fell on the eve of Ohio State’s annual rivalry football game with Michigan, but also because Thad Matta’s Buckeyes will face their biggest test of the season next Tuesday at Duke University.
Photo by Jim Davidson
With so much going on, it would have been easy for these Buckeyes, a group that is ranked No. 3 in the country coming off a Final Four run a year ago, to look past a team like the University of Missouri-Kansas City.
Instead, the Buckeyes (4-0) put together what was easily their most complete victory of the season, cruising from start to finish for a 91-45 victory over the visiting Roos.
“I was excited to see our guys play from start to finish,” Matta said after the game.
“Going into the game we didn’t want Kansas City to be comfortable on offense because they run their offense very well. We had to disrupt them, and I thought our guys did that very well.”
Coming off their championship at the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame Tip-Off Tournament last week, the Buckeyes raced out to a 20-3 start on Friday night at Value City Arena.
The game quickly got even more out of hand, with Ohio State shooting 68 percent from the floor in the first half and 61 percent for the game, while making six of nine shots behind the arc.
They held the Roos to just 23 percent shooting in the first – including 0-6 behind the arc – and carried a ridiculous 53-18 lead into the locker rooms at halftime.
“We knew we had another gear in us,” said junior forward Deshaun Thomas.
“When we got up big, we kept our foot on the gas, kept playing hard as a team, and it showed.”
Ohio State’s preseason All-American led the Buckeyes again with 21 points and eight rebounds in just 22 minutes, but this was a total team effort. The Buckeyes had 10 different players score in the game and five of them finished in double-figures.
“What you saw was guys doing what they were supposed to do,” Matta said.
“I think one of the biggest challenges for this team is that we continue to embrace humility and know that we’re not a finished product. There’s still a lot of role definition to do. Tonight was a step in the right direction in terms of that concept.”
The game was so one-sided early on, Matta was able to get sophomore Trey McDonald and freshman Amedeo Della Valle some valuable playing time in the first half. Della Valle, the team’s only rookie, finished with three points, five rebounds and a pair of blocks.
It was sophomore point guard Shannon Scott who really stole the show in the first half. Scott had seven of his career-high 10 assists in the first half and finished with a double-double (10 points and 10 dimes). He was 4-7 from the floor with three rebounds and two steals in 24 minutes off the bench.
“I could not be happier for Shannon in terms of him letting go, getting into the flow and having a sixth sense of what we need to be doing,” said Matta.
“He’s a talented young man and works extremely hard. Is he going to get a double-double every night? I don’t know. Tonight he used his talents on both ends of the floor.”
Ohio State forced UMKC into 18 turnovers and out-worked them 40-30 on the glass. The Roos shot 26 percent for the game and went 1-15 behind the arc against OSU’s high-pressure defense.
Shooting guard Lenzelle Smith, Jr. added 13 points and six rebounds while LaQuinton Ross and Sam Thompson each chipped in with 11. It was an all-around nice win, but the Buckeyes know it’s going to be 10 steps up next week when they travel to Durham to face the Blue Devils.
“They’re a great team,” Scott said.
“They have us circled on their calendar, so we know they’ll be ready. We’re going to need to have a great week of preparation to be at our best.”
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