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Last updated: 12/05/2013 2:24 AM
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Men's Basketball
First Thoughts From Ohio State's 76-60 Win Over Maryland
By Tony Gerdeman

COLUMBUS, Ohio — The Buckeyes did their part in the Big Ten – ACC Challenge, dispatching with the Maryland Terrapins 76-60. The Ohio State defense harassed the Terps like a dog at dinner time, always sticking their nose in Maryland's business.

Meanwhile, the Buckeye offense scored 43 points in the first half, enabling them to cruise to the finish line in the second half. They shot 6-10 on threes in the first half, but only 2-8 in the second half, but the damage was done over the first 20 minutes. It was all Maryland could do to just stay even in the second half.

While the Terps weren't ranked, this was still Ohio State's second convincing outing against a major conference team, as they now own a 17-point win over Marquette and a 16-point win over Maryland. With just one more major conference opponent remaining in Notre Dame, the Buckeyes are a very serious threat to be 13-0 heading into Big Ten conference play.

Still the Floor Leader. As if there was ever any question, Aaron Craft is still in charge of things in Columbus. Craft played 10 more minutes than any other guard, and led the team with six assists and five steals.

Even though there are times when Craft plays off the ball and allows Shannon Scott to lead the way, when the clock is ticking, it's Craft who decides what happens as time burns away. More often than not, it leads to Craft beating his man in a blink, and then either finishing with a layup, or finding the open man behind the three-point line.

Craft will probably be a 10 or 11-point per game scorer this season, but it sure seems like six or eight of those points all happen in a short burst, and they push a six-point lead to a 12-point lead. He has a tremendous feel for when to take over, even though he's still too passive in my opinion. Questioning how Craft operates, however, will never be a winning proposition, even though I know I'll do it again.

Aaron Craft
Photo by Jim Davidson
Aaron Craft

Drive Carefully. While Aaron Craft has stepped his game up when it comes to finishing at the rim, Shannon Scott had his struggles in this one. Too often he would get so deep that he couldn't even get a shot off. While he can get to the basket pretty much whenever he wants, he still needs to have an idea of what he is going to do when he gets there.

Scott's shot has left him a bit, and some easy layups would maybe help him get that shot back. But the way he is rushing things on the drive he'll never get out of any type of slump. The good thing for him, however, is that he has a couple of senior guards on either side of him who can calm him down whenever he may need it.

A View To Amir. Well, this is the game that we wanted to see when it came to making any sweeping judgments on Amir Williams' game so far. He finished with just five points and one rebound on 1-2 shooting. His offense is never going to be expected, but he will always need to put up some type of fight on the defensive glass. Tonight, Maryland pulled down 19 offensive rebounds, and out-rebounded the Buckeyes 44-30.

The Terps had a field day on the offensive glass, and it wasn't simply because of all of the shots they missed. Yes, that helps, but they were getting rebounds directly under their own basket. Trey McDonald had three rebounds in 12 minutes, and Marc Loving had two in nine minutes. Williams played 28 minutes and grabbed just one rebound, and that will never be acceptable. The sad part about this is that Williams didn't necessarily play poorly, but he was far removed from the productive player he had been to this point. Even if he had taken six or seven shots and missed them all, at least he was doing something to make himself known. He was fairly invisible in this game. Coming into this game, I wanted to see the new Amir Williams, but tonight we saw the old one. I'm still not sure which is the real one, however.

Happy Ross's Day. For the second game in a row, LaQuinton Ross brought his jumper with him. Ross hit his first four three-point attempts, and the rim didn't put up a fight on any of them. He caught the ball on balance, never needing to put it on the floor, and just went up with his shot. He was the LaQuinton Ross people have been expecting since last season ended.

With his confidence soaring, Ross did begin to slip back to his former self from earlier in the season with some poor shots on drives. However, he is such a versatile player that he'll give as good as he gets on those drives, and as long as his jumper is falling, a few bad shots in the paint can be tolerated.

Ross also used his reach on defense to come away with a pair of steals, and he deflected another pass or two in the process. He defended relatively well, while committing no personal fouls. His six rebounds tied a team high. He wasn't just a catch-and-shoot guy in this game. He tried to be more. Sometimes, however, being a catch-and-shoot guy is completely adequate. Especially when he's shooting 67% from three-point territory.

Quick Thoughts. The Buckeyes' reach on defense is just so outstanding. They came away with eight steals (while allowing just six assists), but they also finished with a good number of deflections. Offenses are never going to get into a rhythm against the Buckeyes as long as the passing lanes are as congested as 315 at rush hour. Not only are there four outstanding one-on-one defenders on this team, they are all solid in help defense as well. When the shots aren't falling, the defense will still allow the Buckeyes to rise up. … Even though the Buckeyes are solid in the passing lanes, they were getting beat pretty neatly off the dribble in the first half. Maryland took it to the rim without any fear of getting their shots blocked. Amir Williams did block three shots and Sam Thompson blocked one, so the Buckeyes did provide some last-second defense, but there were still too many voids inside. Of Maryland's 60 points, 44 of them came in the paint. … It was nice to see Sam Thompson score 14 points, but I feel dirty saying that it's too bad the bulk of his points came from dunks. For somebody with Thompson's abilities, there are so many other ways he can score, so it would be nice to see him actually do that. Still, complaining about Thompson's dunking would be like saying Devin Smith scores too many long touchdowns and not enough short ones. … I think Thad Matta would take 12 points and six rebounds every night from Lenzelle Smith. Sign him up. … For a team whose shooting can come and go, the Buckeyes can look awfully, awfully good when their shots are falling. Rob Ogden and I talked on the podcast this week that Ohio State can't possibly be the third-best team in the country. However, I firmly believe there are times when they are – the problem is that you just never know when those times will be.

Sam Thompson
Photo by Jim Davidson
Sam Thompson

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