The story of the game early on was turnovers for UNC Asheville. Notwithstanding some hot shooting from deep by Bryan Smithson and Reid Augst, who finished with 17 and 20 points respectively, the Buckeye press forced 16 first half turnovers, resulting in transition points galore for the Bucks. The Bulldogs would finish with 20 turnovers for the game, contrast with the 9 total turnovers for the Buckeyes.
The Bucks had some hot shooting of their own to begin the game, as 4 of 5 Buckeye starters finished in double digits. Jamar Butler had an astounding game. In a far cry from his basic absence from the Sparty game, Butler tallied 21pts off of 8/15 shooting, even going 5 of 10 from beyond the arc to further pad his career record in made 3pters. Othello Hunter again had an excellent game. Sans O-hawk, Hunter finished with 16pts off of 8/10 shooting, including a nifty spin move on 8 foot 900 inch sequoia Kenny George. Complimenting Hunter and Butler were great games from Lighty and Koufos. David Lighty had an excellent start to the game, finishing with 13pts. When not in foul trouble, Koufos had 15pts off of 7/12 shooting. Jon Diebler even got in on the action, scoring 8pts and going 2 of 4 from beyond the arc.
Of course, Kenny George was every bit as good as advertised. Moreover, Kenny played more than his season average in minutes, contributing 27 minutes of action culminating in 12pts off of 6/7 shooting and 11 rebs. The difference he made goes beyond such base statistics, as it became apparent at least for this observer that without Kenny, the Bucks could’ve blown the doors off of UNC Asheville with much greater ease. Koufos, Twiggy and Lauderdale all shared in the Kenny assignment, and all resorted to fouling him in trying to deal with the monster. His inclusion in the first half got the Bulldogs from down 7-9 points to within 1. His absence in the second half in many ways correlates with the Bucks padding their 8-10 point cushion to a 14-18 point cushion. The Buckeyes got all they could handle, and then some, from Kenny George.
Of course, I do have some questions regarding the non-calls on the 6, 7, 8, and 10 in the key fouls he was guilty of from time to time, but whatever. No harm done in the end.
As the Bucks started to put it away, Thad started to empty his bench, giving rarely used subs Eric Wallace, Mark Titus, Danny Peters, and Kyle Madsen some rare minutes, and even allowing for an extended role from my personal favourite Dallas Lauderdale. Dallas had a nice inbound alley-almost-oop the moment Kenny George went to the bench, spurring a huge reaction from the Buckeye bench and starting the Buckeyes’ run to put the Bulldogs away. Danny Peters, son of assistant coach Dan Peters, even scored in the final seconds, drawing another huge reaction from the bench and the crowd.
I hope our own Max Power can share his insights from his vantage point in the Schott, including letting me know what in the blue hell the fans there were chanting in the final stages of the game1. The Buckeyes will play the winner of California-New Mexico, and will apparently do so in St. John’s Arena. All Buckeye fans are hereby instructed to pack St. John’s Arena and show Ohio State administrators that no matter how dilapidated the place might seem, it has a unique aura all its own and its where we should be playing our basketball. It’s a pipe dream, but it’s still nice pipe dream to have.
The second phase of Operation: I Need to Buy A Postseason Championship T-shirt of Some Kind, Dammit™ will take place either Saturday or Monday.
- it sounded like “We Want Pryor”, but also sounded like “We Want Mullens”. Clarification would help, please. [↩]