Buckeyes Take Bite Out of Gators

By Kyle Rowland on November 16, 2010 at 9:10p

It was the week of halftime speeches for Ohio State athletics. First was football coach Jim Tressel’s fiery number on Saturday against Penn State. Thad Matta took the stage Tuesday night. And boy did he deliver.

Ohio State overcame a three-point deficit at the half and defeated No. 9 Florida 93-75 at the O’Connell Center in Gainesville, Fla. It is the Buckeyes first road win over a Top 10 non-conference opponent since they defeated Wake Forest in 1961.

Jared Sullinger had his second double-double in as many games, scoring 26 points and pulling down 10 rebounds. David Lighty matched Sullinger’s 26 points, while William Buford and Jon Diebler added 16 and 14 (four three’s), respectively. Buford also dished out eight assists.

“Florida is a great basketball team,” Sullinger said. “They pressure the ball well and are good inside and out. It was a crazy atmosphere. We practice all the time, but it doesn’t match what happened out here today.”

The Buckeyes went into the half down 41-38. The Gators embarrassed Ohio State on the boards, racking up nine offensive rebounds (19 total) compared to Ohio State’s eight total. As one can imagine, Matta was less than thrilled and let his team know about it.

“He was very hot,” Sullinger said. “He yelled at us, his face was red, het let us know it was time to rebound.”

Rebound they did. In more ways than one.

The Buckeyes out rebounded the Gators 12-9 and took command of the game with a swarming defense. At one point in the second half Florida turned the ball over eight times in 11 possessions. Ohio State used those turnovers to outscore Florida, 37-18, over the game’s final 12 minutes, 11 seconds. The Buckeyes scored 17 points off Florida’s turnovers in the second half.

Both teams shot extraordinarily well in the second half. Ohio State made almost 71 percent of its shots and Florida 63 percent. Most of the Buckeyes’ makes came in the point, an area they went to often.

It was clear Florida had no answer down low. Sullinger went to work and delivered a dominating performance. When he wasn’t busy dunking on Alex Tyus, Sullinger was finding teammates wide open near the three-point line. His ability to find the open man will continue to wreak havoc on opponents.

Another problem for the Gators: their vaunted press was no problem for the Buckeyes. Ohio State was able to push the ball up the court and take advantage of Florida not being set on defense most of the night. Once again, Aaron Craft showed he is the answer to the point guard question. 

“We’re pleased, but it’s the second game of the year,” Matta said. “There’s still a long way to go.”

The game featured 17 lead changes, 11 in the second half, and five ties.

The Buckeyes got off to a quick start and led 14-9 barely five minutes into the game. Florida answered with a 16-4 run to take a 25-18 lead. The teams went back and forth until the Gators opened up a 41-34 lead, their biggest of the night. Ohio State would end the half on a 4-0 run, though, and take that momentum into the second half.

Lighty led all scorers in the first half with 12 points. Sullinger had 10 points and five rebounds.

“There’s two ways you can go after a big win,” Matta said. “You can get better or you can think you’re good and then not get better.”

I’m thinking Ohio State is only going to improve from here on out.

That is a scary thought for the rest of the country. 


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Keith's picture

Hell of a 2nd half by the boys.  They good.

tampa buckeye's picture

I thought Craft played great.  Maybe only one turnover? Solid win on the road.  We have to be favored for the final four at this point.  Long way to go but they look explosive on offense.

Matthew's picture

3 TO's by Craft, but didn't feel like it. Kid proved he should be starting every game, no matter what the opponent's line up looks like.

Only bring Dallas out when defense and some boards are needed. MOAR CRAFT.

Class of 2010

Chris Lauderback's picture

Craft was credited with 3 TO in 29 minutes. I agree, however, he played very well. I thought he did a great job breaking the press all by himself especially when you could tell he was a little gassed. He chipped in 7 pts, 5 dimes. He's only going to get better, too.

tomcollins's picture

I don't think any team is ever good enough to be "favored" to make a final 4, but we certainly are going to have some of the best odds.

osukdawg76's picture

I'm going to enjoy watching this team.  They're explosive, balanced, and have depth.  This could be a very special year for these guys.

I, for one, welcome our new coaching overlords.



Ultrabuckeyehomer's picture

This was a great win. I'm not sure Florida is a top ten team, but certainly a "quality" opponent, and on the road to boot.  Hey, we finally have a team with some continuity - Diebs, Bufford, Lighty, Dallas ... these guys have been around for a little while now.

This team will still struggle on ocassion over the season as the guys we have are still prone to go very cold at points (JD and Bufford often have horrendous nights shooting).

But, this is a legitimate contender in the conference and can be a top 2-3 sead in the tourney (maybe better if we get great seasons out of some of the upperclassmen).

And once you get in the tourney, who the hell knows what will happen.  No matter what, it's nice to have a good team to follow. 

Johnny Ginter's picture

i think we all need to internet high five kyler for these pro style articles. dude can write, y'all

Jason Priestas's picture

Definitely.  Great stuff, Kyle.

ERIC OSU's picture

Sleeping well tonight, the boys played awesome... wake up tomorrow to Amir's committment would put the cherry on top.

gravey's picture

I like to complain about officiating after a win...when it doesn't sound like whining.  I thought they were calling little crap fouls on OSU most of the night.  Lighty got away with a charge probably on that one...but it looked like we were playing Bobby Knight in Bloomington...

Looks like we're still having some issues guarding the trey...but..

Craft damn impressive...mentally.

Sully damn impressive...mentally.

I was sort of waiting for the crap officiating and the hostile crowd to rattle the frosh, but they were rock solid...maybe better than the vets.

Thanks gang...I hate the SEC.

Joe Beale's picture

I was glad to see them come out and play better in the 2nd half; the defense in the 1st half was pretty poor.  I was really impressed by how well they handled the press.  Florida is not a great team, but they're going to win a lot of games in the SEC.

Now, bring on the Seminoles!

carence's picture

I am liking this team. I love the ability to score with several different people. I did find it disturbing that the commentators kept referring to Sullinger's butt as force to be reckon with.

Morgan's picture

"It is the Buckeyes first road win over a Top 10 non-conference opponent since they defeated Wake Forest in 1961."

clarification - it was our first TRUE away game win against a top ten team since 1961. not taking into account nuetral sites and the like. just wanted to make sure we get some credit where credit is due.

excellent win. this team is really freaking dangerous.

BigRedBuckeye's picture

Just want to chime in that I was incredibly impressed with Craft, both in terms of how he handled the ball physically, and the mental game. Playing all night against the press can wear you down, but he looked mentally and physically strong enough to handle it, for the most part, on his own. Though the announcers harped on it too much, I think his valedictorian-mind and QB-body are a great combo; I found the flow of the part of the offense in pretty stark contrast to last year where it felt like we were always about to turn the ball over. 

Obviously, props to Sullie and Lighty, but for them it's more of a "they are who we thought they were" (though I was impressed with Sullie's kick out passes); I was hopefully optimistic about Craft but not convinced. What I saw last night has me convinced.

And we'll drink to old Ohio, 'Til we wobble in our shoes! 

ATL Buckeye's picture

My only concern is that we will see a repeat of our rebounding woes against teams who get after it. Also, I'd like to see us go a little deeper into our bench to give these guys a breather. But folks...I'm EXCITED about the prosepcts of this team. Aaron craft is the answer; Sully's Bball IQ is much better than Oden's; Lighty is making a run at the 2nd rd. of the draft; Buford is passing the ball; and Diebler occasionally takes the ball to the basket. That team is better than Michigan State, right now! Even Lauderdale has the Rick Ross look going for him...what else can go wrong? 

btalbert25's picture

Craft looked great, and you figure one of the 3 turnovers was him shuffling his feet before taking a 3, so true ball handling bringing it up the court and running offense he only had 2 TO's.  That's very impressive against a team that loves to press.  Especially as a true freshman on the road in a tough place to play.

Sullinger is a beast.

This team has a lot of scoring options, so if Sullinger has an off night, Lighty and or Buford can pick him up.  They are really good.  If everything works out well for them, I can see them getting a number 1 seed this season.  The battles withh MSU are going to be awesome this year.

Chris Lauderback's picture

Good point. That one TO had nothing to do with ball handling. Craft broke their press by himself probably 80% of the minutes he played. I was also impressed with his court awareness in that he never received inbounds passes in corners or dribbled into traps near midcourt and he was always aware of where his teammates so he could easily pass around oncoming double teams. Heady kid.

Kyle Rowland's picture

Ohio State and Michigan State play only once this season. It's in Columbus on Tues., Feb. 15.

German Buckeye's picture

This is all good, really.  Just not getting too high on the team because if our wonderful freshman play at a continuously high level, then one and done to the NBA (again).  I can't like that too much. 

ERIC OSU's picture

whether anyone likes it or not, you might is not root at all for college basketball if thats how you think... it's going to happen, its part of the landscape until something is done by the NCAA/NBA. My advice, enjoy the season, rosters and recruiting classes like this one dont come very often, it will be a special year... and heck, its looking like we will reload the ammo next year with another very good class/

Buckeye_Mafia's picture

Question. Does SEC speed only translate to the gridiron? Beause we looked way better than them in every category including speed and athleticism. And the Florida students must not be too bright. Chanting to a 5th year senior that he sucks is probably not a good idea. Let alone classless. I would be interested to see his production from there on out. Lastly, man, Matta put together a helluva class this season and we didn't even see the kid from Indiana (#1) all that much. Sully = BEASTMODE.

P.S. Now the talking heads are saying Florida wasn't that good and overrated. But if they had won, they would be saying that the Gators should be #2 right behind Duke. God the media is a farking joke.

"At critical moments throughout the season, we learned about the character of this football team.  This was a team of true character, of true resilience." -- President Barack Obama

Dean's picture

They started diminishing the win even before the game was over - with about 5 minutes left (right before they cut to Baylor/UConn), they started saying that Florida just wasn't as good as they thought, they were only ranked because they got all 5 starters back, etc. etc..  B.S.

btalbert25's picture

Honestly though, Florida is not that good.  They returned 5 starters from a team that shouldn't have made the tourney last year.  Returning 5 starters from a not very good team doesn't mean they are deserving of a top 10 the next year.

SouthBayBuckeye's picture

So glad the LeBum logo is of of all OSU bball gear. 


now if they'd just lose the shoes.....

Banned from ATO since June 3rd 2PMish PST

BuckeyeChief's picture

Yeap...wasn't happy when my bball shorts showed up with that logo on them.

"2014 National Champions...deal with it!!!"

btalbert25's picture

I love how ESPN kept trying to say last night, these games matter.  It matters that 2 top 10 teams are playing.  They have over 2000 games on this season and they all matter.  Do you think they are trying to buck the trend of people realizing college basketball is only important for about 2 weeks in February and all of March?   I wonder if they lost ratings last year and they are really trying to push how important these non conference games are because they realize viewership is dropping off.  Even Vitale mentioned that he thinks College basketball gets lost in the shuffle at this point in the year because of BCS and Heisman talk.  I'd be interested to see if they are trying to be proactive and keep viewers by making people believe that November games count for something OR if it's a result a a drop in ratings the last few years.

Kyle Rowland's picture

I disagree. These games definitely matter. People say the same thing about baseball in April and May. You can either make or miss the NCAA Tournament based on a win/loss in November. The games certainly aren't magnified like college football and the basketball season is much longer, but every game is still important. 

ERIC OSU's picture

100% agree with Kyle... for example Va Tech could have really really benefited with a victory over Kansas ST yesterday. They were "snubbed" from the tourney last year, mostly because they did not have any good out of conference wins in November/December...

btalbert25's picture

Another thing from Vitale.  I love how he was saying some of his friends said Louisville has no chance and he told them he doesn't want to hear them ever talk about College Basketball again because they don't know what they are talking about.  Yet 10 minutes before that he was talking about the AL Cy Young.  Please Dick, take you own advice and keep your mouth shut about your opinions on Baseball, the BCS, and the Heisman Trophy.

Kyle's picture

SEC, SEC, SEC!  Oh wait. 

Matthew's picture

Is there a good examination on why Florida has only gotten to the tournament once since back-to-back titles? From "Next Big Thing" in college hoops to "Oh, them?" in no time flat. No one could have thought this was going to happen in the middle of a 2 year title run.

Class of 2010