Five Things We Learned in an Improbable Win Over Wisconsin
By John Porentas
1) Trying to predict how this team will play is like playing pickup sticks on a Tilt-O-Whirl. Just when you think there is little or no hope for this team they come through with a performance that leaves you simultaneously smiling and shaking your head. It was great to see them play well enough to win in Madison, because that's a tough thing to do. At the same time, you are left wondering where that kind of play has been hiding, and whether the Buckeyes can sustain it. There's probably no answer to that first question, but the second one will be answered quickly when they travel to Iowa for their next game. A win in that one would make converts out of a lot of doubters. A loss will lead to more head shaking.
2) The Win over Wisconsin was "Team" win in every sense of the word. The Buckeyes got contributions from everyone who played, and there was no Buckeye who had what you could call a bad game. The box score shows that the Buckeyes had only eight turnovers, and more remarkably, that no Buckeye had more than one. Nine Buckeyes played, and eight of the scored. Only freshman Marc Loving went scoreless. Lenzelle Smith did not have a great shooting day going one for seven from the field, and his missed layup late in the game was certainly frustrating, but he grabbed a game-high 10 rebounds and had two assists.
3) The OSU bench can be a factor. It certainly was against Wisconsin. Amedeo Della Valle had nine off the bench and added three rebounds in just 19 minutes of play. Trey McDonald was three-for-three from the floor for six points. In maybe the biggest development, Shannon Scott embraced his new role as a non-starter to score nine points and dish out a game-high three assists, one of them an unbelievable between the legs pass that if you missed it, you should check out the video of it on the-Ozone front page.
4) Aaron Craft may not score much, but he's not afraid to take big shots at crunch time. Craft scored all seven of his points in the last four minutes of the game to enable the Buckeye to hold off the Badgers. When the Buckeyes needed him to score, he did. He also came through on Wisconsin's last possession of the game. He manned up on Traevon Jackson on Wisconsin's last possession making it nearly impossible for the Wisconsin point guard to get the Badgers into any kind of coherent offensive set in the last 11 seconds of the game.
5) Thad was mighty relieved with the win. All you had to do was see the bear-hug embrace Thad put on video coordinator Jake Diebler when the game ended to know how much this game meant to Matta. Matta knew this was an important game to the OSU season. You got the feeling that Matta saw this as a possible watershed moment for his team. The win doesn't guarantee a successful season, but a loss may have put the Buckeyes in nosedive that could only result in a crash and burn situation. That has been averted, and the relief on Matta's face when the final buzzer buzzed was obvious.
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