The third-ranked Buckeyes started the season off right with a fairly straightforward win over the Wright State Raider of the Horizon League. After struggling to get separation early, the Buckeyes took a 34-20 lead into the locker room at intermission. They scored the first ten points out of the gate in the second half and never looked back. The final score was 73-42, with the last five minutes being glorified garbage time.
Since there was no drama in the game beyond that, it might be worth extrapolating on some player performances. For as well Sullinger played this game, Deshaun Thomas was comparably as puzzling. He finished with 9 points and 5 rebounds in 26 minutes, but chipped in 4 turnovers. With senior stars like David Lighty and Jon Diebler gone from last year’s squad, the worry (on my end) is Deshaun Thomas being our Antoine Walker. I don’t want him being the guy that needs 20 shots to score 20 points and we can’t afford him to do one brilliant thing for every five bonehead plays on the court. And some of his bonehead plays were just, well… you saw them. If we’re going to be counting on Thomas to fill out the starting five and the production on the court, we’re going to need a lot more than what we saw tonight. Perhaps “more” isn’t the correct term, but “better”.
Little Willy BuFu finished with 13 points on 5/10 shooting, also chipping in 4 assists. A lot of that was in the first 5-6 minutes of the second half, where Buford was again our Microwave. He warmed up in the second half and then promptly shut down. That said, he didn’t need to do a lot this game for the Buckeyes to win. Aaron Craft was the only other Buckeye in double digits scoring this game, with 7 of his 10 points — each one of them adorable and dreamy — coming at the charity stripe. Rival fans in the B1G TEN are going to hate him to no end for his contributions on defense.
Lenzelle Smith was a new face of whom we should take note. Smith finished with 8 points and was 2/3 from beyond the arc. This is a little promising in that we shot 44% as a team for the game and were even 8/20 (40%) at halftime. We miss Jon Diebler’s shooting touch on top of his post entry passes. How this teams searches for a shooter and finds a midrange game will be worth watching as the season develops.
New faces are ultimately the story of the day since we need to go to great lengths to replace what Lauderdale, Diebler and Lighty gave us last year. Shannon Scott finished 1/4 shooting on the day, but added 2 assists in 17 minutes of play. Notice the change of tempo he brings when he is on the court. Sam Thompson finished with just 3 points in 13 minutes, but looks like he could develop into a future star. I was a little disappointed with the play of Amir Williams and, in particular, Evan Ravenel. Williams could add nicely to our post presence and I might be crushing on Ravenel later in the season as hard as I am crushing on Aaron Craft right now (xoxo). However, both picked up fouls early and often when inserted into the game.
Ohio State is a good basketball team, but didn’t quite look like the third best team in the country. The goal is that they could be that good come March (ideally better) and that what we see now are a bit of growing pains for a very young roster of which William Buford is the only player with more than one year in the program. Ohio State will hope to find more consistency shooting at the charity stripe and find a midrange game in order to get this team looking like last year’s unit that was #1 most of the year. What we saw tonight was good, but not great.
Ohio State next plays the Florida Gators on Tuesday. You can watch that game on ESPN at 8pm ET, though you are obviously encouraged to watch the game in person if you can.