Deshaun Thomas led four Buckeyes in double figures with 18 points as No. 7 Ohio State destroyed Long Beach State, 89-55. The Buckeyes (6-1) exploded in the second half, hitting 20/38 shots (52.6%) to blow open a 14-point game, building the lead to 42 points with almost nine minutes still remaining in the game. LaQuinton Ross scored 10 of his 16 points in the first half, leading all scorers at the break and providing the main offensive threat for Ohio State. Ross fell one rebound shy of a double-double, adding four assists in his most complete game. Ross was a force, fighting for loose balls and rebounds and generally bending the 49ers (3-6) to his will. Lenzelle Smith Jr. chipped in 14 points, nine rebounds and two assists, with Sam Thompson going mostly aerial to add 13 points, four rips, a block and two helpers.
What began as another lethargic game—Ohio State shot only 39.3% in the first half—turned into a double-digit OSU lead. The teams combined for just eight points and a 4-4 tie by the under-16 timeout. The Buckeyes started to take control with a 12-7 spurt by the under-12, helped by a layup and a triple by Smith. A 9-2 run by the under-8 gave Ohio State some breathing room over the 49ers, 25-13. LBSU went on a 7-2 run out of that timeout to close within 27-21 on a Peter Pappageorge bomb, but then things got real for the 49ers. The Buckeyes closed the half on a 12-4 run to grab a 39-25 edge at the break. Ohio State doubled up LBSU on the glass, with 24 rebounds (7 offensive) to the 49ers’ 12 (3 offensive), and won the bench scoring battle, 16-7.
Following the break, Ohio State immediately jumped on Long Beach State on a Smith jumper, an Evan Ravenel tomahawk dunk and a lay-in by Thompson, forcing Dan Monson to call timeout. The 49ers got a Dan Jennings and-one out of their timeout, but the Buckeyes scored 13 of the next 15, ignited by a thunderous Thompson slam off an Aaron Craft feed. That spurt took the fight out of Long Beach State and the Buckeyes cruised from there. All 11 Buckeyes that played scored, including Alex Rogers getting his first career points in the game’s final minutes. Thompson had destroyed two more rims by that point.
Ohio State finished with a 45-31 rebounding edge, but the 49ers got a lot of garbage time rips against the OSU bench. Thomas recovered from a 3/10 first half to hit 4/6 in the second half. He chipped in four rebounds and two assists in a good day’s work. Craft scored only five points and turned the ball over three times, so perhaps his offensive struggles aren’t quite over, but he forced LBSU into turnovers as per usual on the defensive end. He did hit 2/3 in the first half, but missed both second-half attempts.
Ross was the story for the second straight game, displaying more of an all-around performance than a week ago against Northern Kentucky. Ravenel’s two points came on his dunk to start the second half, and he contributed only one rebound, in what was a largely forgettable game for him. Amir Williams fared little better in the first half, but finished with seven points and three rebounds, going 5/8 from the stripe. The Ravenel/Williams tandem must be better on the glass, but with Ross and Smith combining for 18 rips, it wasn’t a factor in this game.
Shannon Scott continues to grow, dropping nine dimes and hitting a bomb for his three points. He also chipped in five boards and two steals, playing extended first half minutes with Craft in foul trouble. Trey McDonald played some first half minutes for a change, nabbing three rebounds and scoring four points. Amedeo Della Valle was in the game before the second half’s under-8 and jacked up seven shots, scoring a career high five points. He also posted three rebounds, a steal and a block and generally provided the floppy haired mayhem that Vico was calling for in the live chat (and h/t to Vico for coining the FHM tagline that should accompany ADV forever).
It’s hard to make too much of a blowout win against Long Beach State. The 49ers lost three important pieces of the team that went to the last two NCAA tournaments. They lack depth, which showed when point guard Mike Caffey went down with an injury. Also, LBSU was coming off a Thursday night game at Syracuse after traveling cross country.
Still, the Buckeyes held the 49ers to 55 points, despite emptying the bench early. They held leading scorer James Ennis to just two first half points, although Ennis finished with 12 thanks to some garbage time put-backs. Jennings had 16 for LBSU and gave Ravenel and Williams problems. Ohio State held LBSU to 31.1% shooting for the game (19/61), and just 25% (5/20) outside the arc, forcing 14 turnovers.
What Ohio State did best was pass the basketball. The Buckeyes assisted on 22 of 31 made field goals, while Long Beach State had just eight dimes in the game. Ohio State forced 14 turnovers while committing 10, but there were only three OSU miscues after halftime. If not for a switch to zone defense against Ohio State’s reserves, the Buckeyes would have posted triple digits.
The Buckeyes are back in action Wednesday night, hosting Savannah State at 7 p.m. The game can be seen on the BTN.
Notes: With 38 points in his last two games, this is easily the best two-game stretch of Ross’s OSU career…Thompson’s 13 points were a career high…Craft recorded one steal and is ninth behind David Lighty for second on the OSU career list…The Buckeye bench out-scored LBSU 37-14.