Craft, Smith Jr, Fast to Century Mark
By the-Ozone Staff
Every win is important, but OSU's victory over North Florida last Friday was special.
The win marked the 100th win for Aaron Craft and Lenzelle Smith Jr. over their four-year career and was not overlooked by their head coach.
“I wanted to bring these two guys in today – Lenzelle Smith Jr. and Aaron Craft,” Thad Matta said in the post-game after the milestone win. “I don't know if I've ever been prouder.”
“Today they won their 100th game at Ohio State.”
Photo by Jim Davidson
Winning 100 games is impressive itself, but doing it as quickly as these two makes it even more remarkable.
“If you stop and think about how quick they got there, 119 games and 100 wins, it's just amazing,” said Matta.
They are the second-fastest in college basketball to get to 100 as Kansas’ seniors managed it in 116 games.
Over the course of their career these two have featured in major games and had many big wins.
During their freshman year, they won at #3 Florida. Craft contributed seven points and five assists in only his second college game.
Their sophomore year saw wins over four top-10 teams, including a win over #7 Indiana behind 28 points and seven rebounds from Smith.
Lenzelle Smith Jr.
Photo by Jim Davidson
Last year, they knocked off the last remaining undefeated team and #2-ranked Michigan as well as spoiling senior night for the #2 Hoosiers.
These two have won at least a share of the Big Ten regular season title twice and two Big Ten tournament titles. They made it to at least the Sweet Sixteen of the NCAA Tournament in all three of their years so far, including a Final Four appearance.
Matta, on his call-in show, said that he told the team, “We gotta get their 100th win tonight,” because he values how hard they’ve worked.
Craft and Smith Jr. arrived on campus as winners and have proven it at the college level, but Craft knows their careers are not over yet.
As the Buckeyes prepare for one of their more difficult non-conference opponents in Maryland as part of the Big Ten/ACC Challenge, Craft is looking forward to adding to the total.
“The best part about winning that game was the opportunity to win the next one, that’s the biggest things we’re trying to focus on right now,” he said on Tuesday.
This attitude is the way to win 100 games; it calls for focus each night and not overlooking an opponent.
“Right now we’re in the middle of the season, there’s still a lot of basketball to be played and there’s not much time for that,” Craft said.
These seniors aren’t focused on increasing their individual win totals, but focusing on the team. This is an undefeated team with dreams of conference titles and beyond and this selfless outlook has created their success.
Craft understands that there will be time to reflect on individual glory later.
“At the end of the year we’ll have a lot of time to think and really enjoy it all the things that we’ve accomplished over our four years.”
Buckeye fans hope there’s more than just 100-plus wins for these players to think about.