Ohio State fans were hoping to see an improved team that took seriously the lessons from the losses to Duke and Kansas, en route to a comfortable victory over Nebrasky to begin league play. I’m not convinced we got the former, but we definitely got the latter. Ohio State was simply too much for an outmatched Nebrasketball squad. The Buckeyes ran away with this before intermission and coasted to a 70-44 win.
Buckeye fans have been a bit nervous regarding the distribution of points for this year’s team. Bench production hasn’t been what we wanted. Further, Shannon Scott, and Aaron Craft, especially have not been the scoring options this team really needs. In fact, neither Scott nor Craft scored this game, finishing a combined 0/6 from the field. It wasn’t until midway through the second half that LaQuinton Ross scored. He finished with eight points this game. However, neither were necessary. Deshaun Thomas (22pts) and Lenzelle Smith (17pts) led all Buckeyes in scoring and, by themselves, were only five points off Nebrasky’s total offensive output for this game. Deshaun Thomas outscored Nebrasky by himself in the first half. Throw in a few highlight dunks from Sam Thompson (6pts), and Ohio State won this easily.
However, some of the same problems persist entering the next contest, an important road clash against the Fighting Illini on January 5th. Amir Williams didn’t look particularly sharp and is often beaten to the basket with a simple drop step. He finished with eight points, four blocks, and seven rebounds, though, and is fairly reliable at the charity stripe. Ravenel chipped in seven points from the bench. Still, I’m not sure I’m more confident in these guys this season than I was before tip-off. Further, jump shooting remains problematic. Craft still can’t find his mojo and we hope to compensate with Smith and Thomas three point attempts. This seems contingent on Smith or Thomas, and Smith, in particular, having a hot hand.
Importantly, though, Ohio State looked much better against Nebrasky than it did against Chicago State. Ohio State next plays on January 5th in Champaign, Illinois. Tip-off is scheduled for 2:15pm ET.