Five Things We Learned About the Buckeyes in a Win Over North Dakota State
By the-Ozone Staff
COLUMBUS, Ohio - The Buckeyes dominated throughout in defeating North Dakota State. Here's five things we learned along the way.
1) Don't get OSU's attention by beating somebody of note before you play them. Thad Matta said after the game that the team was very focused in preparation for North Dakota State. Matta said that ND State's win over Notre Dame had a definite impact on that focus. The Buckeyes saw that ND State was real with good players and good coaching and therefore took a very serious approach to the game. The Buckeyes were dialed in start to finish and it showed.
2) If you make the Buckeyes mad they will respond. Sam Thompson was on the receiving end of an extremely hard foul in the second half, hard enough that the officials reviewed the video of the foul and ruled it was a flagrant one. On the play Thompson was violently thrown to the ground while attempting a shot. As a result of the flagrant ruling Thompson was awarded two free throws and the Buckeyes were awarded the ball after the free throws. On the ensuing possession, Aaron Craft threw a lob to Thompson which he threw down with a spectacular dunk. Following the game Lenzelle Smith said that the flagrant had the effect of really angering the Buckeyes and firing them up.
3) Aaron Craft's career is officially historic. Craft's last assist in the first half tied the OSU career mark for assists. The play occurred as the half was winding down and Craft found Thompson in the corner who not only buried a three, but was fouled on the play, Though he missed the free throw, the play put the Buckeyes up 13 which was their largest lead of the first half. Craft earned the record-breaking assist on OSU' first possession of the second half when he got the helper on a layup by Lenzelle Smith. He now owns the record by two and counting.
4) Mark Loving is not playing like a freshman. Loving was surprisingly good when the season began. The really good news is that he didn't stagnate, he got better fast, really fast. He is showing confidence now that belies his inexperience, the kind of confidence players usually show in their second or third year of play, not their first. His left-handed finish in this game smacked of confidence. He also shot and drained a couple of threes like he knew they were going in the minute he decided to pull the trigger on them. He very much has the attitude of a seasoned player at this point. If he can continue that into league play he will be a huge plus for Matta.
5) This team might be better offensively than last year's despite the loss of Deshaun Thomas. No doubt about it, Thomas was a big loss, and the preseason talk about where the scoring was going to come from was certainly justified. Ten games into the season, however, that talk has all but disappeared. Lenzelle Smith has upped his scoring and LaQuinton Ross has re-found his shooting touch. OSU is getting nice scoring contributions from Marc Loving and Sam Thompson, and depending on the matchups, Amir Williams, Aaron Craft and Shannon Scott. The diversity of scorers is making them a tough team to guard. They may not have any scorers who will be in the top five in the Big 10, but they will always have five guys on the floor who can score if you don't guard them. That's good for Ohio State and bad for the opposition.
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