After struggling to close the game out offensively against in state rival Ohio University, the Ohio State Buckeyes came into Saturday's game against Marquette still wondering how they were going to put points on the board. The offensive struggles continued in the first half at the Bradley Center in Milwaukee, WI. The Buckeyes didn't convert a field goal until about four minutes into the game when Aaron Craft drove right for a tough lay-in.
Neither team shot the ball particularly well in the first half, but the Buckeyes found themselves leading halfway through the period after a breakaway slam dunk by senior guard Lenzelle Smith Jr. with 9:52 left in the half. Smith was subsequently called for a technical foul because of taunting and this seemingly allowed the Golden Eagles to stick in it for awhile.
The Golden Eagles went inside to their 6-foot-8 290-pound forward Davante Gardner for some key buckets in the first half and took a 18-14 lead after a quick 8-0 run. As the half wound down, freshman Marc Loving hit a huge three from the left corner to tie the game 19-19 at halftime. The combined 38-points at halftime was the lowest total in Division 1 this season.
Head coach Thad Matta must have said the right things to his team during the break because the defensive intensity picked up in a big way in the second half. After a quick Marquette basket from senior center Chris Otule, the Buckeyes went on a 12-2 run that was field by great ball pressure from the Ohio State backcourt. The run was capped by a strip and steal from Ohio State guard Shannon Scott and then a coast-to-coast drive for a basket and a foul.
Shannon Scott and senior guard Aaron Craft combined for 7 steals in the game and continually pestered the young backcourt of the Golden Eagles. Marquette just could not find a way to take advantage of their advantage in the paint, and ended the game shooting a minuscule 19% from the field and a horrific 1/16 (5.6%) from three-point land.
Junior Swingman Sam Thompson got his offense going in the second half and finished with 13 points including a dagger three-ball that stretched Ohio State's lead to 40-26 from which they never looked back. Aaron Craft stuffed the stat sheet as we all have come to expect. Craft's 10-point, 10-assist, and 7-rebound performance made him the first Ohio State basketball player in school history to reach the 1,000-points, 500-rebounds, and 200-steals mark. Shannon Scott added 13-points as the Buckeyes coasted at the end to close it out by the final score of 52-35.
Junior guard Todd Mayo and senior forward Javante Gardner led the Golden Eagles in scoring with 11 and 10 points respectively in a losing effort.
Next up for the Buckeyes will be another non-conference clash against American University on Wednesday, November 20th. The game will be televised on the Big Ten Network starting at 7:30PM.