First Thoughts From OSU's 65-51 Win at Penn State
By Tony Gerdeman
How ugly a game turns out is often related to how ugly an opponent is. After all, the game is made up of 50% of their DNA as well. In terms of ugly, this game was right up there with a ski jump crash or a post-bout nose.
However, ugly games still have to have winners too, and the Buckeyes don't discriminate. They are equal opportunity victors. Ohio State went into Happy Valley and played a Penn State team that has very little ability to score, but the Nittany Lions still played hard. The Buckeyes, meanwhile, did what they had to do and little else. They were always in control though.
In a game like this, on the road against a vastly inferior opponent, I'm okay with a team just getting out of town as quickly and easily as possible. I don't believe blowouts are necessary to show dominance, because a blowout over a bad team doesn't really mean much. Heck, even blowouts against good teams don't mean much, just ask Illinois.
A win is a win is a win. It always has been, it always will be. Blowouts are nice, but what good is a blowout win at Penn State when you're on the road in Ann Arbor? The game wasn't pretty, but the Buckeyes dominated throughout. On the road, that's the very definition of a good game, even if it did sting the eyes a bit.
Baseline Beauty. That's what Dick Vitale always called the small forwards who could dominate on the baseline. They would get the ball on the wing and something good would generally come from it.
Today, Sam Thompson was a Baseline Beauty, scoring 16 points on 6-7 shooting. His first basket was a baseline floater which has eluded him all season long. His second was a three-pointer from the corner, and from there his confidence was where Ohio State needs it to be in order to win the Big Ten.
If Thompson can continue to be effective on the baseline this team will be better able to offset an off night by somebody like Deshaun Thomas. If Thompson can stay consistent like this, just imagine what they can do when Thomas and everyone else simply plays the games they are capable of.
Opening Strong. I liked the fact that they were trying to get Amir Williams involved offensively early. It's a time-tested formula for getting a center to play hard for the first two minutes of the game as you then ignore him for the final 38 minutes.
The early interest led to a pair of free throw attempts as well as an offensive rebound that led to an eventual three-pointer from Thomas. Williams then tipped away a pass into the interior on Penn State's next possession. I don't remember him doing much after that, other than a couple of offensive rebounds, nor did I expect to.
Afford Tempo. Get it? "Afford Tempo"?? Anyway, the Buckeyes can afford to push the pace on offense more than they have been, especially when Shannon Scott is in charge. Running the halfcourt offense with both Scott and Aaron Craft in the game doesn't really use Scott to his fullest, yet they are still managing.
Scott is at his best when he is pushing the tempo, and it's not really close. This was the first time all season that Scott didn't have an assist, and it's also no coincidence that Ohio State only scored four fastbreak points.
There really was no need to push the pace in this game. Thad Matta seemed pretty happy to burn clock with his double-digit lead for the final 30 minutes of the game or so. But pushing the tempo at times throughout the game will make the opponent expend more energy, which will make their full-court press less effective down the stretch, and that's something that could definitely come in handy for this team.
Stay Consistent, People. Every team's fanbase believes that Aaron Craft is an overrated defender. That's fine. People are free to believe what they want to believe. However, when a player on your team actually beats Craft and scores, maybe don't have the entire arena gasp in amazement that somebody just beat the Great and Powerful Craft.
Credit Where It's Due. For the first time in a while, Ohio State had a 20-point lead and didn't lose it. Yes, Penn State is a bad team, but hey, small victories.
The defense did enough today to keep Penn State from coming back. Although all they really needed to do was to allow Penn State to keep shooting three-pointers because they were never going to make them consistently.
Quick Thoughts. For the second game in a row Shannon Scott passed on an open three-pointer in order to take a dribble inside the line and hit a jumper. There is no need to over-extend your range if you can still get an open shot by moving a few feet in. ... I think teams get bored playing at Penn State. It's something that the Nittany Lions have taken advantage of in the past, but they just don't have the talent to do so right now. ... Deshaun Thomas played just 29 minutes as it appeared that Thad Matta wanted to get a look at what this team looks like without him. It wasn't great. Still, as we saw against Iowa when he had to leave the game to get stitches, there will come times this season when the Buckeyes do not have Thomas to rely on, and the team will need to step up. ... It was good to see Trey McDonald provide six quality minutes, but how did he get outrebounded by Amedeo Della Valle who played all of 23 seconds?
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