What is up, my ever so faithful Buckeye Nation? Some of you may recognize my name from my time at ourhonordefend.com, but if not, either way I’m ecstatic to be part of Buckeye Empire! And honestly, I couldn’t have picked a better time for my first post as the men’s basketball team took care of TTUN yesterday.
What a damn good performance by Deshaun Thomas and co. As I downed all-you-can-eat wings at Kildare’s Irish Pub, I watch intensely as Ohio State built a 21-point lead just to hang on down the stretch. All in front of a raucous Value City Arena crowd. Based on what people said that went to the game and what I witnessed on TV, the atmosphere was absolutely insane. This was a statement game for the Buckeyes and they delivered.
After falling short against the other ranked teams they’ve played this season, Ohio State finally beat a top-25, quality opponent. Not only did they finally get over the hump to top the number 2 ranked Wolverines, but with Duke falling on Saturday to North Carolina State, the Buckeyes prevented TTUN from being ranked number 1 in the upcoming college basketball polls. With the football team’s victory on November 24th and the basketball team’s win yesterday, it’s been 4,441 days since the UM football team and 3,653 since the UM men’s basketball team have won in Columbus. That, my friends, is defending the home turf!
After their dreadful performance against the Illinois Fighting Illini, OSU has played well in their last 2 contests at Purdue and against UM. Moving forward, they’ll need these types of performances to get through the gauntlet that is the Big Ten schedule. This Saturday, the men’s hoops team travels to East Lansing to take on Tom Izzo and Sparty. After that, they play some teams in the lower half of the B1G in Iowa, at PSU, Wisconsin, and at Nebraska before a rematch in Ann Arbor vs. UM on February 5th immediately followed by hosting Indiana on February 10th. Although the Buckeyes have played well in their last 2 games, the questions and doubts–that arose during their losses–still remain even after victories.
Ohio State desperately needs a second scoring option. One thing is certain when it comes to this team: Deshaun Thomas will shoot often and give the Bucks around 20 points per game on a consistent basis. However, other than Thomas, OSU lacks a player that can be a second option. Aaron Craft, in Ohio State’s last 2 games, has found some of the offensive touch he seemed to have lost in the Buckeyes’ previous games.
The Junior PG has been aggressive offensively and has started to take the ball to the basket–an area in which he excels. In my opinion, Craft has to give Ohio State a good offensive performance, on a consistent basis, for this team to be capable of reaching the lofty goals that OSU and its fans have for their team every season. Other players, such as Sam Thompson, Lenzelle Smith Jr., Shannon Scott and LaQuinton Ross are capable of being a second option for this Buckeyes team, but none have shown the ability to do so. Craft has. From making JaJuan Johnson look silly 2 years ago (at the 0:23 mark) to some of the ridiculous shots he made the other night at Purdue, Craft has shown the ability to get to the rim at will–which opens up the Ohio State offense. He just has to stay aggressive.
All in all, Ohio State played exceptionally well yesterday and did something they were unable to do against Duke and Kansas: get stops and execute offensively late in the game. This was a quality win for the Buckeyes and a victory that they can certainly build upon for their upcoming games.