Ohio State pleased their fans and coach Thad Matta with their high energy performance in the Gotham Classic at Value City Arena at the Jerome Schottenstein Center. Ohio State trounced the Bulldogs of Bryant University Wednesday night in Columbus by the final score of 86-48.
The Buckeyes continued their torrid scoring pace against Bryant early by putting pressure on the ball and getting out and running in transition. Eight first half steals by the Buckeyes spearheaded a very balanced offensive attack. Lenzelle Smith Jr.'s 12 points in the first half led the team and Amir Williams continued his solid contribution with 8 points and 3 monster blocks in the first half of play.
Junior guard for Bryant, Dyami Starks entered the contest as one of the nation's best scorers, averaging 22.1 points per game. Starks' 12 points in the first half was the lone spark for a Bulldog team that was over matched against Ohio State.
Ohio State made it look easy as they took a 43-23 lead into halftime.
Buckeye forward LaQuinton Ross picked up where he left off in his previous game against Central Connecticut State when he dropped a career high 23 points. Ross seems to be settling in nicely after his documented struggles early in the season. Ross did not force things early and made a couple nice passes out of the post including one to senior point guard Aaron Craft for a corner three that turned into a four-point play.
Ross, who came in averaging 20 points per game in his last 3 games, finished the ball game with a modest 9 points on 4-10 from the field. However, it was something of a coming out party for freshman forward Marc Loving. Loving nailed a pair of three pointers in the second half and finished the contest with 9 points, 3 assists, and 3 rebounds off the bench for Thad Matta's crew. Any offense the freshman can provide will be huge for the Buckeyes in the future when games start to slow down in Big Ten conference play.
The key to Ohio State's success continues to be pushing the tempo and the man who started the engine tonight was junior guard Shannon Scott. Scott plucked a game high 5 steals and got the team out into transition multiple times for easy hoops. One of his 3 assists also led to a monster slam from Lenzelle Smith Jr., who once again led the team in scoring as he finished with 19 points.
Coach Matta has to be thrilled with a team that often struggled to find an offensive identity in the first few games of the season. The team appears to be taking cues from the 2012-13 squad that made a run to the Elite Eight. Great defense is leading to better offense which makes it hard for onlookers and fans alike to not buy in.
All 10 Buckeyes that got in the game scored six or more points in a balancing act that is certainly welcomed by all OSU backers. The question remains if the Buckeyes can continue this against big time competition in a conference that is expected to be the best in the country.
Center Amir Williams finished the game one rebound short of another double-double, with 12 points and 9 rebounds. His production needs to stay consistent against the physical front lines in the Big Ten. Trey McDonald also contributed in the paint with 7 points and 2 rebounds off the bench.
The Buckeyes' defense went up to another level in the second half and held Bryant to 28% shooting from the field in the game. Aside from a couple nice drives for Bryant's freshman guard Declan Soukup, Ohio State made the Bulldogs uncomfortable and made it tough for them to get anything going. Dyami Starks cooled off and scored 4 points in the second half to finish the game with 16 points in a losing effort.
The Buckeyes are likely to get a tougher test in their next contest Saturday against a North Dakota State team that defeated Notre Dame, 73-69, Wednesday night.
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