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Last updated: 11/26/2013 0:05 AM
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Men's Basketball
Buckeyes Final Focus on Wyoming to Pull Out a Win
By Rob Ogden

COLUMBUS, Ohio - Multiple times throughout Monday night's game, "We Don't Give a Damn for the Whole State of Michigan" rang out inside Value City Arena. But for about a 10-minute stretch during the second half, the attention was solely on beating Wyoming.

Lenzelle Smith
Photo by Jim Davidson
Lenzelle Smith

With 14:17 to play in the half, the Cowboys (4-2) led Ohio State (5-0) by four points, but a 26-7 run by the Buckeyes and a game-leading 20 points from Lenzelle Smith Jr. led Ohio State to a 65-50 win.

Led by forward Larry Nance Jr., Wyoming trailed by only four at the half, and took a second-half lead while the Buckeyes struggled to get shots to fall.

Nance Jr., the son of former Cleveland Cavalier Larry Nance finished with a team-leading 17 points and 12 rebounds.

After shooting 46.7 percent from the floor in the first half, the Buckeyes missed their first eight shots from the field in the second half and didn't score until the 13:53 mark, when Amir WIlliams got a tip-in.

Two transition buckets from point guard Aaron Craft followed and the Buckeyes never looked back again.

"We said 'That was their run, now we have to respond,'" Craft said. "It stemmed from our defense. We started guarding the ball better and got easy buckets."

From that point on, the Buckeyes dominated defensively, and held Wyoming without a field goal for the final 10 minutes of the game.

Thad Matta
Photo by Jim Davidson
Thad Matta

"It was do or die," coach Thad Matta said. "We challenged the guys to lock down, but I didn't think we could hold them without a field goal for 10 minutes. There were some high-level plays."

Matta called the final 10 minutes of the half "maybe the best defensive stretch we've played all season."

The Buckeyes came in shooting just 21 percent from 3-point range, but shot 6-of-13 from behind the arc in the first half.

Smith Jr. finished 5-of-8 from 3. Also finishing during double-figures for the Buckeyes were Williams and Craft, who had zero points at halftime.

Williams recorded his second-career double-double with 12 points and a career-high 16 rebounds.

The Buckeyes out-rebounded the Cowboys 42-29. Williams said that was an area they knew they had an advantage coming into the game.

Amir Williams
Photo by Jim Davidson
Amir Willams

"Matta said there would be a lot of opportunities for me to rebound and I just took advantage of it," Williams.

For the third consecutive game, Ohio State got very little from junior LaQuinton Ross.

Ross came out at the 15:27 mark of the second half and didn't return, watching the majority of the second half from the bench for the third consecutive game.

He finished with 3 points on 1-of-7 shooting and now has just 7 points in his past three games. 

"We need him to make some shots," Matta said after the game. "LaQuinton has to trust himself. We're going to get LaQuinton Ross to play better basketball and play at the level he's capable of playing and the level I need him to be playing."

Ross finished as the only Buckeye in negatives in plus/minus with -10 in 19 minutes on the floor.

"A lot of it is getting in the flow of what were doing and not fighting things, more mentally than physically," Matta said. "We'll find a way to get him going."

Box Score
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