Originally written January 03, 2013 on Waiting For Next Year:
In what is shaping up to be an absolute gauntlet of a Big Ten conference slate for the Ohio State Buckeyes this season, game one was not much of a test. The Buckeyes struggled a little on offense early against the Nebraska 2-3 zone, but their defense, athleticism, and superior talent eventually fueled a 70-44 blowout in Value City Arena. The Buckeyes were led by Deshaun Thomas’s 22 points as Deshaun outscored the entire Cornhusker team in the first half 18-17. Nebraska started cold shooting the basketball and truly never recovered. The Bucks sprinted out to a 11-3 lead as Nebraska hit just one of its first six shots. In fact, the Huskers’ lack of offensive prowess made sure this game was never in doubt. As a team, they shot 30% in addition to a poor 6-of-21 from beyond the arc. They also only split eight trips to the foul line, a sign that the Buckeyes were playing the tough, smothering brand of defense that they’re becoming known for the last several seasons under Thad Matta. Some of the noteworthy efforts on the end of that floor included Aaron Craft’s 3 steals along with defending opposing point Ray Gallegos to 4-of-18 shooting and 4-of-15 from three point range. New starting center Amir Williams also blocked four shots to go with 8 points and 7 rebounds in just 18 minutes. I think Thad made the right decision in replacing the senior Evan Ravenel, who is much better suited for coming off the bench, with the sophomore Williams, who is desperately needed due to his shotblocking ability and frontcourt length. In truth, I was not pleased with the way the Buckeyes played in the first half. With 6:30 to go before intermission, the Buckeyes led just 20-15 as Nebraska’ s 2-3 zone had slowed the pace of the game and relegated Ohio State to chucking jump shots for the most part. I mentioned during the game that there are two things that despite Ohio State’s inept offense for long stretches will keep them in nearly every single game they play this season. One is the defense, led by Aaron Craft. The other is Deshaun Thomas’s offensive arsenal. Thomas had 7 points during a 16-2 run to close the half and give the Buckeyes a 19 point halftime lead. Thomas finished with 22 points on 9-of-16 shooting, but 18 of those points came in the first half where Thomas made just two three pointers and instead took smaller defenders in the paint, carving up the middle of the zone. Thomas got a few easy transition buckets off of the 14 Nebraska turnovers, and it was enough to jump start the Buckeye offense. The stats don’t really play it out because of Ohio State’s relatively weak schedule thus far, but from glimpses in the Duke and Kansas games, this team is drifting out in the middle of the ocean for long stretches when Thomas isn’t making things happen. Also, I’d be doing Sam Thompson an injustice if I didn’t mention his highlight reel blocked shot and alley oop slam that both occurred late in this game. OSU got a refreshing return to effectiveness from shooting guard Lenzelle Smith Jr. as well. Often their best three point threat, Smith Jr. was just 2-for-15 in their last three contests. He made up for that with a 5-of-7 showing from deep to go with 17 points in all and 6 rebounds. He was involved in what could’ve been the turning point of the game too. After a pair of missed free throws by Ravenel, the Buckeyes got a pair of offensive rebounds that ended with a Smith Jr. corner three to push the lead to 23-15 and start the run to close the first half. Given how slow LaQuinton Ross has been coming along (8 points tonight in 20 minutes) and the mighty struggles of Craft offensively (0-for-4 shooting and just 37% on the season), Smith Jr. absolutely has to be this team’s second scoring option right now. The problem is when that three point shot isn’t falling, he’s not a terrific driver and really only gets additional points with his offensive rebounding. Ohio State dominated with points in the paint 40-16 and turned the ball over just nine times. They also won the rebounding battle 43-32. So, even though the stats will show 49% shooting as a team, I’m still on high alert as a Buckeye fan considering the level of competition and what I’ve seen so far this season. It won’t be the last time I say it: this team has a Final Four defense and a first-round exit offense. On Saturday, as I mentioned, the opponent will not be as easy when the Buckeyes head to Champaign to take on former Ohio University head coach John Groce and the 14th-ranked Fighting Illini, just one of six Big Ten teams currently ranked in the Top 18 in the polls. (Photo: Paul Vernon/AP)

Report: Carson Palmer's nerve injury 'still lingering'

Adam Dunn to retire after 14-year MLB career

Ryan Lochte: Phelps made dumb decision, will learn from it

Tiger Woods to open restaurant in Florida next year

Royals beat A's in extras, win first playoff game since '85

Mark Davis: Raiders head coaching job will be 'enticing'


Fan on Craigslist offers Nats playoff tickets for threesome

Brady snubs rookie Garoppolo after touchdown pass

Cung Le suspended for failed HGH test

FCC Chairman: Washington nickname 'inappropriate today'

Brain study finds 76 of 79 deceased NFL players had CTE

Tony Sparano to step in as Raiders head coach

What will the A’s Look Like in 2015?

Major League Baseball's 2014 All-Disappointment Team

Jeter introduces 'The Players Tribune,' 'The Voice of the Game'

Grading each NFL's team's play at quarter-season mark

MLB.com posts wrong story saying A's won game

WATCH: Brett Favre in new nose hair trimmer commercial

WATCH: Michigan students protest, call for AD to be fired

Marlins president: We're not trading Giancarlo Stanton

Heckling Knicks fan suing team over ejection

This weekend in NFL stupid

Kobe: Iggy Azalea has had better career than Swaggy P

College football's post-Week 5 playoff projection

College Basketball News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

All-Disappointment Team in MLB

Ryan Lochte: Phelps made dumb decision

WATCH: Brett Favre in new commercial

Brady snubs rookie after TD pass

FCC: Washington nickname 'inappropriate today'

Could Jon Gruden return to Oakland?

Marlins: We're not trading Stanton

Study: 76 of 79 deceased NFL players had CTE

Heckling fan sues Knicks over ejection

Sparano to step in as Raiders head coach

This weekend in NFL stupid

Kobe chooses Iggy over Swaggy P

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.