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Last updated: 12/18/2013 10:27 PM
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Men's Basketball
First Thoughts From Ohio State's 76-64 Win Over Delaware
By Tony Gerdeman

COLUMBUS, Ohio — The Buckeyes (11-0) secured their 11th win of the season with a decisive enough victory over the Delaware Blue Hens (5-6). Delaware kept things close throughout, but Ohio State was always able to keep the Blue Hens at arm's length, and things never really got all that uncomfortable.

It was, however, a departure from the recent blowouts that the Buckeyes have enjoyed. There was a lack of energy from Ohio State, but they were always able to get the stops and scores when they needed them. Any time Delaware would cut the game to where their bench began to get excited, the Buckeyes would quickly answer and sit everybody back down.

The slow start for Ohio State might be a concern, but I think we can chalk it up to being a midweek opponent that nobody really cares about. It's clear that the Buckeyes are looking for larger game. They'll get it against Notre Dame this weekend, though the Irish are more of a sickly moose than a raring buffalo.

Are You Giving Us All That She's Got, Mr. Scott? I'm not really sure what's going on with Shannon Scott's offense this season. He went scoreless against Delaware, and has now gone seven-consecutive games without scoring in double figures. He still can't finish in the lane, and his perimeter shot apparently wasn't in school this semester.

That being said, I still fully expect him to have some games in the Big Ten where he dominates in doing what he does. An 8-0 run almost by himself, spurred by steals and assists, and a pull-up jumper or two. Right now, the Buckeyes are getting enough from Shannon Scott to win the non-conference games, but I believe once they need more from him, he'll be right there to give it. He's too talented to remain so passive.

The Craft Carrier. We saw an aggressive Aaron Craft on offense throughout this game, and I think it stems from the fact that he could sense the team needed to have a constant fire lit under it. Craft drove several times, finishing with the second-highest number of field goal attempts on the team (10), and they came with a purpose. When things are going well on offense, he is more than happy to distribute and get everybody else involved.

In this game, however, he finished with just two assists because his scoring was needed more than his passing. He only hit three shots, but he went to the free throw line seven times and finished with 12 points. I don't think he'll feel the need to spark the team much this season, but it's good to see that he recognizes when he needs to do so.

A Nice Balancing Act. Ohio State had five scorers in double figures against Delaware, which is probably why they can withstand Shannon Scott not scoring at all. Perhaps the best part about their scoring is how efficiently it came.

LaQuinton Ross scored 19 points on 13 shot attempts, Lenzelle Smith scored 14 on just six attempts, Amadeo Della Valle scored 10 on seven attempts, Amir Williams had 11 on seven attempts, and Craft finished with 12 on 10 attempts. You never want to have more field goal attempts than points, and combined these five players scored 66 points on just 43 field goal attempts. The secret, of course, was the 30 free throw attempts, of which they hit 21.

The Running of the Bucks. One of the great strengths of this team is the runs that they can go on to either build a lead or completely leave the competition behind. They can deny the opposition several possessions in a row without even allowing a shot attempt, all the while scoring from any spot on the floor. Four minutes later, and you've got a 12-0 run and a five-point lead is now 17 points.

I'm interested to see this continue into the Big Ten schedule, because runs like the Buckeyes had in this game – the 15-0 run spanning two halves, for instance – are as much about defense as they are offense. Ohio State can even struggle to shoot in games and still be able to pull out an 8-0 run over a period of time because of their constant annoyance on defense. That's a tremendous weapon to have. Even when a team is struggling to score – like the Buckeyes were tonight – they can make the opponent struggle even more.

A Return to Form. LaQuinton Ross appears to be fully back to the LaQuinton Ross that we all expected before the season started. He scored a game-high 19 points and played a team-high 31 minutes, and the way his season has gone, the 31 minutes is the much more impressive number.

Over his last six games, Ross is averaging 17.7 points per game, and he's still leaving some points on the court. He was extremely impressive in this game, scoring several times in the paint. He was calling for the ball in the post, and finished well when he got it. He even had three blocks on defense. While his finishing ability comes and goes, he's not really forcing any bad shots so far. He just has to continue being able to get the easy ones up, and he succeeded at that in this game for the most part.

Quick Thoughts. … During the first half of the game, I thought that Amadeo Della Valle should have slowed down a bit, especially when it comes to shooting. Too often he shoots as soon as he has the ball, and doesn't bother to get his feet set under him. However, after watching him play this entire game, his energy and “fastness” were an absolutely necessity. He provided his team with a ton of energy. … Lenzelle Smith was very patient in this game, but he wasn't passive. He looked for his opportunities, and capitalized on them when they were presented. That's the sign of a comfortable player. He knows when his shots are needed, and he knows when he has necessary advantages. … I would like to see Trey McDonald get the ball two or three times down low because I like the power with which he plays his game. He's been fairly successful to this point in his limited opportunities, and I think a few more looks for him wouldn't be a bad thing. … I thoroughly enjoy watching Marc Loving run around at the top of the key, flashing his hands looking for a pass and a quick 15-footer. It's simple, I know. … Aaron Craft drove the ball pretty well in this game, and it's something that he can do pretty much any time he wants. I just wonder how much he'll want to do it this season. … Overall, this is becoming a fun team to watch, and much of that is simply because of the way they play defense.

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