After what happened against Kansas last week, there were certain things you wanted to see from Ohio State’s basketball team in the final non-conference game against Chicago State. You wanted to see jump shots fall. You did not see that. You wanted a lopsided game. You saw that, eventually. You wanted to see floppy haired mayhem from Amedeo Della Valle. You saw that to the tune of a career high 11 points. You wanted Sam Thompson to commit dunkslaughter. You only got one of those and it came late. You wanted to see a team ready for the B1G schedule. I’m not sure you saw that. The Buckeyes struggled at times but eventually flipped the switch in the second half, leading to the least satisfying 43-point victory you’ll ever see, an 87-44 destruction of the state of Chicago.
The story for Ohio State was the glass. The Buckeyes crushed Chicago State on the boards, 44-18, including 11-3 on the offensive end. This allowed Ohio State to stay in the game long enough to find its legs offensively. Deshaun Thomas led the way with 17 points, eight rebounds and four assists. LaQuinton Ross added 15 off the bench, with Lenzelle Smith chipping in 13. Aaron Craft returned to double digits, scoring 10 points to go with six assists, four rebounds and a steal.
But the record will show that the Buckeyes started 1/8 outside the arc and shot a horrific 13/27 (48.1%) at the charity stripe. Credit the Cougars for hanging around by hitting some ridiculous threes in the first half. A lethargic Ohio State couldn’t shake Chicago State, which hung around until a 23-10 run to close out the first half gave them a 37-24 advantage at the break. The Buckeyes opened the second half with a 9-2 spurt to take full control. Ohio State shot 50% from the floor in the first half and 48.1% for the game, which was due in large part to Craft and Shannon Scott knifing through or passing over Chicago State’s backcourt trap, setting up numbers advantages on the offensive end. It was also due to better outside and mid-range shooting after the break.
Amir Williams got his first career start in place of Evan Ravenel, but it didn’t seem to impact his game much. He finished with four points, four rips and a block in 15 minutes. Ravenel played 16 minutes, scoring five points and pulling down 10 boards. Ohio State took over when it came inside the arc and started hitting mid-range jumpers at the start of the second half. The Cougars were forced to close and gave up a lot of drives to the basket after that. The Buckeyes managed to nail seven of their last nine triples, including three by ADV off the bench and two more by Ross, finishing at 47.1% outside after a 22.2% first half.
The defense was very good for the most part, although some slow rotations hurt them early. Quinton Pippen, nephew of former Chicago Bulls star Scottie, made Ohio State pay, hitting three of four from downtown for nine first half points. The Buckeyes locked Pippen down better after the break, allowing Pippen only three more points in the second half. No other Cougar scored double figures and in fact the entire Chicago State starting lineup finished with just 20 points, with Jeremy Robinson and Clarke Rosenberg failing to score.
Still, there were probably more questions remaining than answered about this 2012-13 Ohio State team after the completion of the non-conference slate. It still seems to be searching for an identity and a go-to leader (not necessarily a go-to scorer). The next five games should tell us a lot.
The Buckeyes will begin the B1G schedule Wednesday against Nebrasketball. The Huskers visit The Schott at 6:30. The game will be televised on the BTN.