First Thoughts From Ohio State's 71-31 Win Over Louisiana-Monroe
By Tony Gerdeman
COLUMBUS, Ohio — Halfway through this game I wasn't sure if Ohio State should be paying Louisiana-Monroe double, or if Louisiana-Monroe should give every dime back. This was a matchup of two teams on completely different planes. This could have just as easily been Ohio State hosting Walsh or Marathon Oil. The only thing the Buckeyes got out of this game was another day closer to the Big Ten schedule.
Mismatched Pair. Talk about your unfair matchups. This was reminiscent of SEC football teams playing FCS teams prior to the final week of the regular season when they play their rival game. It makes sense, as the Buckeyes are now done with the preseason schedule and set to begin the conference schedule. I guess there's no need to get too messy prior to the slugfest known as Big Ten play.
That being said, the Buckeyes still went out there and punched their clocks, among other things. The defensive intensity was ramped up for all 40 minutes. Hands were slapping, feet were sliding and shoes were squeaking. Being a Friday night game against a no-name opponent, this had every opportunity to be a game where the effort and intensity were lacking. Despite the number of substitutions, that never really happened. That's a credit to the veteran leadership on this team.
The Power of the Ross. I thought LaQuinton Ross was very effective down low as a post player in this game. As one of the taller players on the court, Ross will be called upon this season to muscle in some baskets, and that's exactly what he did tonight. He also recorded another double-double thanks to his 15 points and 10 rebounds. He was only 4-10 from the field, but he had zero turnovers and hit 6-7 at the free throw line. Even though he shot just 40%, the rest of his game was efficient and effective.
Early to Bench, Early to Rise. If there's such a thing as a “get away game” in college basketball, this was it. Thad Matta went to his bench early and often, looking to get as many players involved as his roster allows. Eight of his regulars played at least 20 minutes, and the ninth – Marc Loving – fouled out after 16 minutes. It was clear that the team was excited to move on from the non-conference and get into Big Ten play. This was their final “chore” before getting to have some fun, and they took it very seriously.
Lenzelle Bounces Back. After a completely awkward performance against Notre Dame, Lenzelle Smith was back to form with a game-high 17 points. His seven rebounds were his typical bounding self on the boards. Smith was no longer standing in the shadows, as the spotlight found him repeatedly in this game. His shooting touch continues to be effective, he just has to remember to stay aggressive.
Passing Fancy. The Buckeyes had 14 assists on their 23 made field goals, and at one point they had nine assists on nine field goals. The ball movement has been fantastic all season long, but in the first half of this game, they were also converting the ball movement into baskets.
Shannon Scott (5) and Aaron Craft (4) combined for nine assists and they completely set the offensive tone in the first half. It also didn't hurt that the Buckeyes hit 5-11 from three-point range in the first half, making those assists even easier to come by.
Quick Thoughts. … You know, if Sam Thompson and Shannon Scott aren't interested in looking for their shots, Amadeo Della Valle and Marc Loving are more than happy to take their leftovers. I think Della Valle shoots too much, and would be much more effective if he would only shoot when he was actually open. … I think on average the Buckeyes could get called for traveling every other time down the court. I'm still not convinced Lenzelle Smith doesn't travel every time he takes a shot. … Trey McDonald had four blocks in this game. I'll guess that that's a career high and not worry about being wrong. … The Buckeyes' defense in this game was fantastic. I can't imagine it's much fun for an opposing coach at a small school to have to prepare for this. They already know they're going to lose, and the salt in the wound is that they're going to have to work like hell just to get blown out.
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