By Kenny Roda
It was a tale of two halves for the Ohio State Buckeyes on Sunday at the Nut House in Columbus in the 68-60 win over fourth ranked Michigan State. In the first half they looked like the same old Buckeyes. They couldn’t make an outside shot, as they were one of 11 from three-point range. They couldn’t put the ball in the bucket period, scoring only 25 points. And they gave up too many easy baskets to their opponent, allowing Michigan State to shoot 50% from the field. Then after falling behind by nine points with about 18 minutes to go, Dr. Jekyll turned into Mr. Hyde! The transformation began with Aaron Craft, as he led the offensive barrage as the Buckeyes scored 43 second half points on 57% shooting from the field, leading Tom Izzo to tell me, “They should run me out of town for allowing that to happen!” They played lockdown defense, holding the Spartans to just 40% shooting in the second half and OSU put the game away at the foul line, knocking down 15 of 19 in the second half.
So was this a sign of things to come, or just one lucky half? Have the Buckeyes figured it out?
I asked Thad Matta if he knows who his team is and he said he does but, “I know who they are, but the big thing is that they need to know who they are, and that’s a lot of times where the challenge comes in. That’s where our job as coaches comes in, to just continue to hammer home, this is who we are, and who we have to be, and how we have to play.”
So from that answer I guess, that the Buckeyes are a team that needs: Aaron Craft to be aggressive and attack the pick and roll and drive to the basket more, which led to a career high 21 points. OSU needs the lone senior on this team, Evan Ravenel (ten points and five rebounds) to show up offensively every night, and not just once every five or six games. They need Sam Thompson and LaQuinton Ross to be efficient on offense, they shot a combined five-for-eight for 13 points and they need Deshaun Thomas to do what he does best – score points (14) even on an off-shooting night (four of 16 from the field). Oh yeah, and mix in some in your face, physical defense that would make Urban Meyer proud! The Buckeyes did all that in the second half against the Spartans, but can they do that every game for 40 minutes, instead of just 20?
Thad Matta is hoping the second half effort and win over Michigan State will be the blueprint that his team understands and follows the rest of the regular season, into Big Ten Tournament play and then into March Madness. If they do, he thinks they could do some damage. If they don’t, he knows the damage will be done to them!
Return to: Ohio State Buckeyes Blog