The Ohio State Buckeyes were impressive in every way in dominating the Duke Blue Devils, 85-63. It was the 29th consecutive home victory for second-ranked Ohio State (7-0) but seldom has The Schott served as a stage so big. Four Buckeyes scored 17 points or more, led by Jared Sullinger (21 points, 8 rebounds), and Ohio State fed off its 11-0 run to open the game. Although No. 3/4 Duke (7-1) got back into the game with a 10-0 run, the Buckeyes never trailed. They closed the first half on a 29-11 run and kept the lead between 19 and 24 points most of the second half. It was Duke’s second worst defeat ever to a B1G opponent and evened Ohio State’s all-time mark in the ACC/B1G Challenge at 5-5.
Ohio State’s starting lineup accounted for 79 of the 85 points. William Buford was on fire, scoring 20 points with five rebounds and four assists, passing Jon Diebler for 13th on the all-time OSU scoring list and surpassing the 500-rebound mark for his career. Aaron Craft played his usual marvelous defense, though he was credited with only one steal, and chipped in 17 points, eight assists and five rebounds. If Craft gave Duke problems all night, it may have been expected. What was not expected was the sudden emergence of Deshaun Thomas. You can’t keep the Tank from shooting, and Thomas was hot, scoring 18 points on 8-12 shooting. Tank also grabbed five boards and provided options both inside and out for the OSU offense.
The Buckeyes shot 59.3% (35-59) including 57.1% (8-14) behind the arc. Everyone just seemed focused. Craft’s outside jumper mostly fell. Sullinger did his thing inside against any Plumlee that happened to be there. Buford created his shot. And the defense…dear Lord, the defense! Duke shot only 47.3% (26-55) including a dreadful 20% (3-15) from deep. Austin Rivers was as good as advertised, creating his own shot as well as shots for others. Rivers scored a career high 22 points, adding three assists. Aside from Rivers, only Mason Plumlee (16 points, 8 rebounds) was any kind of threat. Duke’s leading scorer, Seth Curry, was held to seven points and was mostly invisible. Second-leading scorer Ryan Kelly was held scoreless and was so ineffective that he played only 15 minutes. When was the last time Duke had not one but two starters fail to score (Andre Dawkins also laid an egg)?
Duke tried everything. They went to a zone, only to see Ohio State knock down outside shots or penetrate and dish for a layup. Nothing worked against the lockdown Buckeye defense. Lenzelle Smith was a defensive wonder until leaving the game after an ugly fall on a foul by Josh Hairston. Smith hit his only shot attempt – a trey, naturally – and grabbed five rebounds. Off the bench, Evan Ravenel continues to impress, although he also continues to struggle with foul problems. Ravenel failed to score and grabbed only one rebound, but he had a key block and made a sweet pass to Sully in traffic for a dunk. Jordan Sibert was the only other bench player with significant playing time (15 minutes), with Thad Matta doing Thad Matta things and shortening the bench.
And the crowd was amazing. Value City Arena never seemed louder, roaring its approval of their team’s opening run that forced Krzyzewski to pull Rivers and coach him up. Craft had five points in the 11-0 spurt, as well as a steal, an assist and at least one forced turnover. Vico says Craft is dreamy and I am inclined to agree. He was the player of the game, but Sully, Buford and especially Tank weren’t far behind. Buford reached double figures before the under-8 timeout.
The Buckeyes did everything we said they had to do in the preview, and more. They made the extra pass on numerous occasions, finding wide open jumpers. They mostly avoided bad shots. Defensively, they created problems for the Blue Devils. The rebounding edge went to OSU, 32-23 (7-5 on the offensive end). In essence, the only down side was the usual shortness of the bench and the Smith injury, which is hopefully not serious. Aside from that, it was all smiles in a week of smiles so far.
Notes: Ohio State completes its 8-game home stand Saturday against Texas-Pan American. Then there will be six days off until the trip to Lawrence, Kansas to take on the Jayhawks…Ohio State is now 3-3 all-time against Duke, and 38-26 against the ACC…The OSU home winning streak is at 29, the third-longest such run in school history…Buford’s 105th start ties Jim Smith for the 10th most in school history…Sully’s double-double streak ended at four games, since he was held to eight boards.