Thomas Lifts Buckeyes to Tournament Title

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Last updated: 11/19/2012 3:17 AM

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Men's Basketball
Deshaun Thomas Lifts Buckeyes to Tournament Title
By Brandon Castel

Deshaun Thomas loves himself a good tournament.

Much liked he did for the bulk of the NCAA Tournament back in March, Thomas asserted himself as the best player on the floor during Ohio State’s two-game trip to Connecticut over the weekend.

The team’s preseason All-American scored 56 points and grabbed 18 rebounds as the 4th-ranked Buckeyes (3-0) knocked off Rhode Island and Washington on their way to a championship at the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame Tip-Off Tournament in Uncasville, Conn.

After going for 25 and 10 in Ohio State’s 69-58 win over Rhode Island (0-3) on Saturday, Thomas tied his career-high with 31 points in a 77-66 win over Washington (2-2) in Sunday’s tournament title game.

The junior out of Fort Wayne, Ind., scored 26 points in the first half as the Buckeyes avoided another slow start against the Huskies. Thad Matta’s team led 31-21 at the half and outpaced Washington by one in the second half for an 11-point victory.

Junior point guard Aaron Craft stayed hot at the offensive end with 18 points and four assists. He now has 13 or more points in all three of Ohio State’s wins to start the season.

Senior Evan Ravenel made his third-consecutive start and turned in a strong performance with 12 points, four rebounds and a blocked shot in 30 minutes against the Huskies. That helped the Buckeyes overcome a combined 0-10 effort from Sam Thompson and Lenzelle Smith, Jr., who did manage to contribute 10 rebounds between the two of them.

Matta likely won’t be too pleased with the performance of his defense on Sunday. The Buckeyes actually trailed Washington 18-17 in the early going, but closed out the first half on a 24-13 run.

They allowed UW to stay in the game with outside shooting, something that has to concern Ohio State’s coach early in the year. The Huskies 9-18 from long range on Sunday, with C.J. Wilcox and Abdul Gaddy doing most of the damage.

Wilcox was 4-8 behind the arc and paced Washington with 18 points, while Gaddy was 3-4 from outside with 15 points. Center Aziz N’Diaye chipped in with nine points and 11 rebounds, but the Buckeyes won the battle on the boards 30-24. That included 12 offensive rebounds, four of which were grabbed by Thomas.

For the weekend, he was 21-38 from the floor, 8-9 from the free throw line and 6-13 from behind the arc. He is now averaging 25 points and seven rebounds through the first three games of the year.

The Buckeyes will be back in action on Friday – the night before the Michigan football game – against Missouri-Kansas City (6 p.m. ET, Big Ten Network).

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