Balanced Attack Leads Bucks Past Gators

By Chris Lauderback on November 15, 2011 at 10:02p
AP / Jay LaPreteBuford led the way with 21 points and six rips

Ohio State ended the 1st half on a 13-5 run, started the 2nd with another 13-5 spurt and placed four in double figures on the way to an 81-74 victory over the 8th ranked Florida Gators tonight in the Schott. 

William Buford paced the Buckeye attack with 21 points on 7/15 from the floor including 5/6 from the stripe to go along with six boards in 40 minutes of action. 

Jared Sullinger saw his touches a bit limited but still managed 16 points and six boards as he attempted just eight field goals (4/8) but capitalized at the stripe draining 8/8. 

DeShaun Thomas had his usual handful of defensive lapses but played decently at the offensive end tallying 15 points on 4/10 from the field and 6/6 from the line while Aaron Craft was his usual unflappable self tossing in 13 points (4/11 FG) to go along with seven dimes and three steals. Craft locked up Florida's Erving Walker, holding the 14 ppg scorer to four points on 1/6 from the floor with three turnovers. Walker's first and only bucket came with 4:30 left in the game.

The Gators jumped out to an early 14-6 lead thanks to hot shooting from deep as the Buckeye bigs failed to rotate on the perimeter. Forward Erik Murphy splashed his first three triple tries before Ohio State responded with a modest 10-3 run to cut the lead to 17-16.

Sully started the run with a couple free throws while Buford and Sibert added threes sandwiched between a sick hesitation move from Craft in the lane for two.

Undeterred on the road, Florida then altered their plan of launching threes scoring their next six points in the paint before another three and a couple free throws countered by a jumper from the top of the key from Buford and a pair of free throws by both Thomas and Sullinger. The result was a 27-22 Florida lead with 5:54 left in the half.

Right on time, the Buckeyes turned it on outscoring the Gators 13-5 the rest of the way to take a 35-32 lead at the break.

The beauty of the closing spurt was that five different Buckeyes scored. Thomas started it with a triple, Sully hit a pair of free throws and later a clutch 17 foot baseline fadeaway jumper with the shot clock at :01, Buford hit a floater in the lane and Ravenel hit a layup in traffic as the D collapsed on Sullinger.

For the half, Florida shot a ridiculous 6/11 from distance (55%) but offset that effort with a sloppy nine turnovers.

Meanwhile, the Buckeyes shot a so-so 46% from the floor but committed just four turnovers and took advantage of Florida fouls by burying 8/10 from the stripe including 6/6 from Sully.

Looking to extend the three point lead earned by the late 1st half run, OSU came out attacking the rim to start the 2nd stanza. 

The Gators recorded a free throw at the other end before a slashing Lenzelle Smith hit a layup off a nice feed from Sullinger. Shortly thereafter, Thomas hit from inside off a good look from Smith and after the teams traded empty possessions, Craft found Evan Ravenel for an alley-oop layup completing the 13-5 spurt and giving the Buckeyes a 48-37 lead with roughly 14 minutes to play. After the WB and Sully both earned trips to the line with attacking drives resulting in 3/4 free throws, Thomas flashed a nice spin move and hook shot from the left low block to extending the lead to 40-32 before Buford found Sully for a dunk in transition. 

Florida would stay within 9-11 points and cut the lead the 53-44 with an Erik Murphy three but Buford turned on the jets sparking a 9-2 run with a layup, two free throws and a triple pushing the Buckeyes in front 62-46 with 7:55 left in regulation. 

Again, Florida would claw back slicing the lead to as little as five points though the outcome was never in doubt despite some ridiculously dumb play from the Buckeyes. Sam Thompson committed a bone headed foul when he shouldn't have even been in the game and Buford launched a three with less than half the shotclock depleted, among other miscues. 

Still the Buckeyes hit 6/6 from the line over the final :30 to secure the win in an early season litmus test. 

For the game, Ohio State shot 47% from the floor but just 27% from distance (4/15) while the Gators shot 11/22 from beyond the arc. The Buckeyes somewhat offset Florida's edge from deep by outscoring the Gators 27-13 at the stripe. Impressively, the Buckeyes connected on 79% from the line (27/34) though they lost the glass 34-25 including a 10-5 Gator edge on the offensive backboards. 

The Buckeyes owned the turnover battle as Florida coughed it up at will with 16 turnovers compared to just seven for Ohio State. 

Not surprisingly, Thad shortened the bench considerably against the 8th ranked Gators with only Ravenel and Jordan Sibert seeing significant minutes (14) by Matta's choosing. Shannon Scott did see three minutes of action at the end of the 1st half after Craft picked up his 2nd foul. 

The bench players now have four games to show they deserve more minutes before Ohio State welcomes Duke to the Schott on November 29th. 

Next up for the Buckeyes, Jackson State comes to Columbus for a Friday night tilt. 



Comments Show All Comments

TLB's picture

I think Thad was trying to get the youngsters some experiance, putting Sully and WB on the bench with a minute to go.  Of course, things didnt go well and they were back on the cout 10 seconds later.

dsbgobux's picture

Totally agree. Sure was nice to see the new guys work hard.


Buckeye in PA purgatory

Conroy's picture

We're not nearly loud enough.

matti's picture

its nice to see a buckeye offence of any type not ran by the walrus

OldColumbusTown's picture

I think it was an intriguing performance last night by the Buckeyes.  You can tell this group is still trying to "find" itself a little bit, and I think that's a good thing.  There were mistakes on defense and a lot of missed open shots on offense, but they still found a way to dig deep and get the W.  All of this basically without any help from the freshmen group.

I didn't know what to expect from this team last night, but I'm very optimistic based on what I saw.  If they begin to see some contributions from Scott, Thompson, and Williams, and they correct some of the silly fouls and defensive mistakes, they are going to be an extremely tough out in March/April. 

The best part is they were a pretty good team last night, and they have an incredibly high ceiling to improve and continue to get better.

slippy's picture

My take:


Smith looked legit out there.  Solid D and efficient on offense.


Tank's on ball defense seems improved.  His off ball/pick and roll/ball screen still needs work.


Glad to see this team can run the offense without going through Sully, but I still think he needed more touches.


Man it sure is pretty when WB's jumpshot is on.  I've never seen anyone drain the ball like he does.  Doesn't even move the net.  Shots look like airballs sometimes.

BucksfanXC's picture

Tank does look like he's growing, but slowly. I hate to say it, but he may need to experience a big loss before he actually matures enough.

WB may become more of an offensive threat than Deibler was, because Diebler was streaky, WB is on all the time, except in the tourney against UK, but everyone has a down game. Diebler it was more shocking for him to have an on game than an off one.

Craft will easily make up for Lighty's defense, except that Lighty could guard bigger guys, shoot guards or small forwards, but if Craft shuts down the PG, those bigger guys can't ever get the ball.

“Any time you give a man something he doesn't earn, you cheapen him. Our kids earn what they get, and that includes respect.”  - Woody

OldColumbusTown's picture

Post defense is the one lacking spot on this team.  I was watching Kentucky/Kansas for a bit after the OSU game, and started thinking to myself - who in the world is going to be able to guard Terrance Jones/Anthony Davis if OSU were to play Kentucky?  We've been so used to seeing David Lighty essentially take that 6'9 athletic big out of the picture with his defense, and this team doesn't have that any longer.

The great thing is there aren't many of those types of players in CBB this year.  OSU hopefully has time for someone to develop into that role by the time March rolls around, and even then they may get lucky and not have to go against someone like that in the tournament.  If they want to win it all eventually they'll need to get it sorted out though.

Buckeye Chuck's picture

I think this year's tam is going to be deeper, but Diebler and Lighty contributed in ways that not only won't be easy to replace, but are just plain hard to find even if you specifically set out to recruit that way (a 50% shooter from 3-point range and an all-purpose defensive stopper). That's the main reason that I don't see how this team can possibly match last year's in terms of regular season record--we're bound to have a few games where the 3s aren't falling for anyone, or someone goes off against us that a Lighty would have shut down.

We should be in the national title picture again, but you have to actually win the games in March, and until he proves otherwise, I am a skeptic of Matta's ability in that regard.

I liked that large margin we had before Florida trimmed it in the last few minutes. Based on certain events of the recent past, our fans could have used the catharsis of a big home win over the Gators. But I suppose we should simply give thanks that we survived the SEC speed, and move on.



The most "loud mouth, disrespect" poster on 11W.

OldColumbusTown's picture

Completely agree.  Lighty and Diebler are irreplaceable as far as what they brought to the table.  Here's the one thing though about the team this year that has me so excited:  Potential to grow.

For all the great things OSU got out of Lighty and Diebler last year (and the year before), you knew what you had with them.  They were so steady and so dependable.  But, I think they had basically reached their ceiling.  Last year's team was just about as good in the first and second game as they were in the Sweet Sixteen loss to Kentucky.  Craft and Sully got better, for sure, but they were already playing at almost peak level against Florida in the 2nd game last season.  The team did all the little things well from the get-go.

Last night I noticed several things that had me scratching my head just a bit (pick and roll D, rebounding, overaggressiveness on D, some poor shot selection).  But those things all improved throughout the game, and you can just tell they are easily correctable.  This team WILL get better.

They will more than likely lose a few more games this year, but what matters is how you're playing at the end.  Matta generally has his guys playing their best towards the end of the season, especially when he has a group so dependent on young guys (see 2006-2007).

timdogdad's picture

here's a thought about sec speed- without looking it up, how has the sec done the ncaa's in the 100 meters? that's straight speed, not football speed or b-ball quickness. just curious.  how ironic, everything is slow down in the south ya'll but the football players are the mythically the fastest. 

TheHumbleBuckeye's picture

All you have to do is look at NFL rosters. The Big Ten - despite having one less school all these years - has virtually the same amount of talent in the NFL as the SEC. The styles of play are just different. You can't win witht he spread in the Big Ten. Just ask Denard Robinson (who might be the 2nd fastest player in college football - next to Demps - in terms of pure straight line speed).

onetwentyeight's picture

I disagree with that. You can't win with Michigan's sh!tty Defense in the B1G. They led the B1g in total offense. You can't pin all the blame for their losses on the offense. There is no reason the spread can't work in the B1G if you have the right talent. But for a Team to WIN you need a defense that's not ranked liek 110th out of 120 in the country or whatever. 


If that Michigan team from last year had our defense, would they have won 3 or 4 more games? I don't think that's unreasonable to assume .... 

NYC Buckeye's picture

Anyone else impressed with Smith Jr?

 I thought he played very well last night, especially for a guy I really wasn't even aware of until the Wright State game on Friday night.  I didn't even know he was on the team last year...

Looks like he might fill the overall role player void lost with Lighty, looks like he plays solid defense, and he can shoot the ball a little bit...

Chris Lauderback's picture

I'm also very impressed with Smith. Considering he was out virtually all of last year with a wrist injury that required surgery last late-June, it's amazing how much he's developed. That wrist surgery, on his left (shooting) hand, kept him out of workouts for almost six months, I believe.

I love his versatility and I love even more how his strengths mesh against the strengths of the rest of the starters. He's not looking to jack up a ton of shots which bodes well considering Sully, Buford and then Thomas would all be more focused on scoring. He looks to provide Thad a mid-sized defensive stopper in the mold of Lighty that should team up well with Craft killing PG's out top.

Plus, even though he might not be looking to score a bunch with this particular starting five, he was definitely a versatile scorer in high school so he's got offensive skill. So far, I've mostly been impressed with how he moves without the ball on offense. Sometimes kids that were the offensive stars in high school struggle with playing offense without the ball in their hand but he has shown really good ability to keep spacing and cut in the lane with the intent of scoring and also looking to make the extra pass. He ran a nice give and go last night.


AC1972's picture

Is there a tougher player than Aaron Craft?  Dude is a football player w/ Bball skills.  I wish he was playing QB for the Buckeyes this year.  Esp. early on...

Breakawayspeed's picture

None I know of.  He is tough as nails! Even when he got beat one time but was able to reach in from behind and knock the ball out off the Florida players knee.  He didn't give up and his hands are as quick as lightening.  He looks more impressive than last year to me.  Handles the trap well and gets the ball up court too.   May end up as team MVP. 

6stringSteve's picture

Craft is going to go down as the best point guard in OSU history.  So glad basketball season is here...helps take my mind off college football.

And Thomas still hasn't seen a shot he doesn't like.

Go Bucks!!!!