It's almost impossible to think about basketball right now, but here we are. Ohio State squared off against Michigan tonight in search of their 14th win of the season. Coming off of a disappointing loss in Assembly Hall, the Buckeyes were looking to right the ship. Having been bested by NJIT earlier in the season, Michigan came in still looking for more production from its roster and a stronger team identity.
The game was close to begin with, but the Bucks began to pull away in the first half. D'Angelo Russell and Sam Thompson contributed offensively early on. Thompson brought an energy defensively that the team sorely needed as he helped to create turnovers and apply ball pressure. Thompson's effort and leadership effectively shined throughout the entire first half as the Buckeyes took to the locker room with a 39-24 lead.
The lead ballooned to 23 early on in the first half and the Buckeyes didn't look back. Ohio State overwhelmed Michigan on both ends of the floor, finding open shots and creating turnovers. Sam Thompson followed up his great first half performance with an electrifying second half. Whether it was a chase down block, a quick steal, or an arena shaking alley oop, Thompson made his presence felt all over the court. His performance, in partnership with Russell offensively, helped to close out the game against the Wolverines. In need of some confidence, this was a solid home win for the Buckeyes.
3 things we learned:
1) The rebounding woes took a back seat for the night. Although the Bucks have struggled to rebound most of the season, Ohio State got great effort on the boards from their roster early on. Jae'Sean Tate consistently played bigger than his 6'4 frame throughout the game. He fought for loose balls and grabbed offensive rebounds with authority. Even the highly criticized Amir Williams grabbed a few strong rebounds in traffic. Michigan is not a particularly big team and the Buckeyes were able to take advantage by getting to the boards early and often. At the end of the first half the Buckeyes lead the rebounding battle 21-13.
2) This team is much better when they play man defense and scrap the zone. When the Buckeyes run the zone they leave themselves much more vulnerable to talented teams. Running the zone also severely inhibits their already meager rebounding abilities. The zone also hides Shannon Scott's elite on ball defense that can help to create turnovers and force opposing players into bad shots. While the zone looked fine against teams like Sacred Heart, better teams have ripped it apart and the Buckeyes have looked significantly better in man defense. To their benefit, the Bucks ran man defense for the most part tonight. Hopefully thats a continuing trend throughout the season.
3) Dan Dakich calls every single one of our games. Seriously, though, it really seems like he is permanently assigned all Buckeye games. At some point during the broadcast, Dakich mentioned that this was his fourth straight Buckeye game. While the Buckeyes have been hot and cold throughout the season one thing remains the same: if the Buckeyes are on ESPN you can bet the farm that Dan Dakich will be on the call.