Okay. Now I get why this one wasn't televised.
Playing probably the worst opponent they will see all year in the first game without an injured Jared Sullinger, Ohio State overcome a Duke hangover smothering Texas-Pan American 64-35 this afternoon in a sparsely populated Value City Arena.
Only two Buckeyes reached double figures as Thad played everyone not named Sullinger or Trey McDonald double digit minutes, picking up his 300th career win.
Starting in place of Sullinger, Evan Ravenel led the way with 11 points and seven boards - five offensive - while DeShaun Thomas added 11 points on 5/13 from the floor and five rips.
Lenzelle Smith Jr. bounced back from the nasty fall at Duke with six boards from his wing spot while JD Weatherspoon chipped in six boards and six points including a monster dunk in garbage time.
William Buford never found his shot hitting just 1/7 from the floor (2 pts) but did add five boards in four assists in 24 minutes while Aaron Craft put up six points and three boards in 24 minutes.
The Buckeyes owned the glass against the miniature Broncos to the tune of 44-24 including a ridiculous 21-5 edge on the offensive backboards led by five each from JD and Ravenel.
With UTPA holding the ball between turnovers and bricks, the Buckeyes struggled to get into the flow early leading just 15-8 at the 7:28 mark. After the under eight online(?) timeout, Ohio State closed the half on a 16-6 run to take a 31-14 lead at the half.
Jordan Sibert hit a pair of triples during the spurt and Craft connected twice including a sweet floater from 16 feet as he drove from the right baseline to end the first half.
Ohio State held the offensively challenged Broncos to just 4/16 (25%) from the floor in the first 20 minutes while forcing 10 turnovers.
After the Columbus Academy "Little Dribblers", a collection of 10-ish year olds, showcased better ball handling skills than UTPA during the intermission, the Buckeyes opened the 2nd half on a 13-4 run pushing the lead to 44-18 with 13:04 to play.
Smith Jr. hit a trey to start the onslaught and Ravenel did work with five points inside while Craft hit a runner down the left side and Sibert hit a pair of free throws to cap it.
Though the bench played early, Thad completely emptied the bench after that. Amir Williams had five points and three boards but against the tiny Broncos, failed to make anyone feel better about depth inside with Sully on the shelf.
Frankly, No Sully, Mo Problems. The offense struggled to find rhythm without Sully's presence and was mostly void of the inside/outside ball movement that we've taken for granted. Ravenel is definitely a solid player who is very active on the glass but he doesn't draw the double teams that Sully so effectively passes out of to set up teammates either directly or off hockey assists that lead to wide open jumpers or driving lanes.
Losing to Kansas without Sullinger really wouldn't mean anything but from what I saw today, those expecting OSU could go down to Lawrence and pull out a victory are getting ahead of themselves. Fortunately, Thad sounded afterward like a man pretty confident the best player in college basketball will be ready for the Jayhawks.
For the game, OSU shot 39.7% from the floor and only 23% from deep (3/21).
Besides owning the window, the defense forced 21 turnovers, converting them into 32 points.
Shannon Scott showed some flashes hitting a pair of 18 foot jumpers from each wing as OSU built a 15-5 lead but did turn it over three times in 16 minutes. Fellow reserve Sam Thompson was active with six points, three boards and three assists in in 14 minutes including Ohio State's first dunk which amazingly didn't occur until less than five minutes to play.