Preseason All-American Deshaun Thomas scored 25 points and added a team high six rebounds, leading Ohio State to a somewhat meh 83-71 win over Walsh in an exhibition game at the Schott. LaQuinton Ross added 13 points and Sam Thompson and Evan Ravenel chipped in 11 apiece in a somewhat lackluster performance against a team trying to move up into Division II. There are few real takeaways from a game in which Thad Matta used a head-spinning number of different lineups, but the Buckeyes trailed much of the first half and never really pulled away once they got going. Walsh was able to make easy shots inside and drilled 8-16 outside the arc to keep Ohio State from continuing the two-year trend of beating the Cavaliers by 46.
Ohio State’s defensive intensity was missing for long sections of the game, but it did fuel a 17-3 run at the end of the first half that turned a 27-22 deficit into a 39-30 lead at the break. Walsh players drained treys seemingly at will, and the Cavs out-rebounded the Buckeyes 20-13 in the first half to make the dead atmosphere of Value City Arena seem apropos. The lead grew to 15 a few times in the second half, but it basically see-sawed between 14 and 11 after the break. The Buckeyes shot very poorly outside the arc, hitting only 5-19 from downtown, including 1-6 by Thomas. Matta subbed liberally and used an infinite number of combinations, which may have contributed to Ohio State’s failure to find rhythm and pull away.
One thing the Buckeyes did extremely well was block shots. Ohio State swatted 12 attempts in all, with center Amir Williams rejecting five. Sam Thompson picked up three more and six OSU players registered at least one block. The Buckeyes also finished with eight steals, including two by junior point guard Aaron Craft, who had a rather pedestrian scoring night (five points). Craft added six dimes and was, at times, his usual pesky self. He helped ignite the run at the end of the first half with a diving tie-up and hit the floor again in the second half to steal a pass, starting a transition basket with a pass while lying on his back (#swoon). Ten Buckeyes saw action. All of them scored and all played at least eight minutes.
Matta should probably be a little concerned about the perimeter defense and the fact that his three centers combined for one rebound in 20 minutes of game time in the first half. Ohio State did overcome the 20-13 rebounding deficit to finish even with 33 rips apiece. If not for 19 Walsh turnovers and the 12 blocks, the end of the game may have been a little uncomfortable and a lot embarrassing. Still, it’s hard to really take anything of value away from the performance. The defensive intensity seemed to ratchet up whenever Walsh made a run. Ross started alongside Craft, Williams, Thomas and Lenzelle Smith Jr., and scored 11 of his 13 points before the break. He shoots with confidence and has a very smooth offensive game. Thompson gave the Buckeyes a better defensive presence. Williams, Ravenel and Trey McDonald all struggled against Walsh’s big men, leading to a lot of easy baskets.
Jeff Copeland led the Cavs with 16 points off the bench. Kenny Kornowski added 12 and Jesse Hardin scored 11. Croation center Hrvoje Vucic scored eight points and led Walsh with seven rebounds before fouling out. Brad DuPont scored all nine of his points in the first half, adding three rebounds, four assists and two steals, but he also had a game high seven turnovers. Williams pulled down all five of his rebounds in the second half. Ross also finished with five rips.
he Buckeyes will tip off the regular season Nov. 9 against Marquette in Charleston, South Carolina.