Deshaun Thomas tied a career high with 31 points, leading the No. 4 Buckeyes to a 77-66 win over the Washington Huskies at the Basketball Hall of Fame Tip-Off. Thomas, who hit his first seven shots of the game and scored 11 of Ohio State’s first 13 points, added eight rebounds and four assists. It was an incredible start for Tank, who reached double figures in scoring just 4:09 into the contest and had 21 at the half. Aaron Craft chipped in 18 points with four assists, two steals and two boards. Evan Ravenel added a career high 12 points, four rebounds and a block. The Buckeyes won the Hall of Fame Trophy, which counts for little more than a nice start to the season.
Both teams started out hot. Ohio State (3-0) and Washington (2-2) essentially traded baskets for the first 7:34 of the game, before the Buckeyes went on a 14-4 run by the 5:51 mark. Thomas scored eight during the run with a pair of treys and Craft added two layups, giving the Buckeyes some separation and a 31-22 lead. A 6-2 spurt pulled the Huskies back within five, at 33-28, but the Buckeyes scored the next four points and Washington got no closer than six points the rest of the first half.
Ravenel’s jumper with 1:08 left in the first half gave Ohio State its first double-digit lead. That lead could have grown even more, if not for three straight misses at the end of the half by Thomas, Lenzelle Smith Jr., and Shannon Scott. The Buckeyes took a 41-31 advantage into halftime and were never seriously threatened. It was a masterful first 20 minutes by Ohio State, which out-rebounded Washington 13-12 (6-3 on the offensive end) and forced six turnovers while committing only one.
The Buckeyes were a little sloppier in the second half, but the lead generally fluctuated between eight and 13 points after the break. C.J. Wilcox and Abdul Gaddy hit back-to-back bombs to pull Washington to within five in the opening minutes of the second half, but Thomas restored order with an and-one, a layup, and a nice assist to Amir Williams, who also got an and-one. That 8-0 spurt pushed the lead to 13 with 15:32 to play, and it stayed in double figures the majority of the game from that point on.
In all honesty, it wasn’t perfect, but it was the best Ohio State has looked so far this young season. The two-headed beast of Ravenel and Williams combined for 15 points, eight rebounds, two blocks and a steal. I had predicted that the duo would need to account for a dozen rebounds between them to combat Washington’s size inside. However, the Buckeyes hit the glass as a collective, out-ripping the Huskies 30-24 for the game and 12-6 on the offensive end. Only 7-footer Aziz N’Diaye really did much damage on the boards for Washington, collecting 10 to go with his nine points.
The Huskies preferred to play a perimeter game, with the guard trio of Wilcox, Gaddy and Scott Suggs combining for 18, 15, and 11 points, respectively. Ohio State’s adjustments after the break were effective. Suggs had scored eight points in the first half and N’Diaye added seven. The two combined for just five points in the second half. The Buckeyes denied entry passes to N’Diaye and active hands ripped the ball away before he could fully catch it on numerous occasions. Ohio State had nine steals in the contest and forced 16 Husky turnovers.
The only real negatives in the game were occasional defensive lapses and misses outside the arc. The Buckeyes allowed 9/19 shooting from three and themselves shot only 3/12. Smith was 0-5 and didn’t score in the game. LaQuinton Ross did some nice work in the second half, and Williams played one of his better games since arriving in Columbus. Scott played well, with four points, three steals, one assist and a rebound. It will be interesting to watch the continued maturation process of the OSU sophomores.
The Buckeyes are back in action on Friday at 6 p.m. (BTN) when they host Missouri-Kansas City. Josh will have your preview and recap for that one.
Notes: The Buckeyes are 42-5 in November under Thad Matta…Ohio State improved to 4-8 in the overall series, but the teams hadn’t met since 1972…The Buckeyes are now 37-36 against the teams that currently represent the Pac-12…Thomas’ previous 31-point game came March 15, 2012 against Loyola (MD)…Thomas is now just 28 points shy of 1,000 in his OSU career…Craft is now 16 steals behind David Lighty for second on the school’s career list…It was Ohio State’s first televised game of the season, after the Carrier Classic was cancelled and the previous two games were available only online.