Buford, Sully Power Buckeyes Past Gophers

By Chris Lauderback on February 14, 2012 at 11:15p
AP Photo: Hannah FoslienSully: Less double teams equals more points

Looking to get back on track after Michigan State stopped their 39 game home winning streak last Saturday, the Buckeyes got a combined 47 points from William Buford and Jared Sullinger on the way to a 78-68 win over Minnesota tonight in The Barn. 

Buford led the Buckeyes with 24 points on 10/17 from the field with eight boards and five dimes while Sullinger added 23 points (6/11 FG, 10/12 FT) and eight boards. 

The duo came up big in the 2nd half scoring 20 straight Buckeye points following a Deshaun Thomas and-1 that put OSU in front 50-34 with 15:50 left in regulation. 

Buford was liquid shooting 5/6 on an array of difficult shots over the final 15 minutes including a pair of triples and tough, contested left elbow jumper, a smooth stroke from just inside the top of the circle and a pretty one handed floater driving to his left giving OSU an insurmountable 70-59 lead 2:30 to play.

Playing sidekick, Sully converted back to back buckets in the paint sandwiched by two pairs of free throws, ensuring the Gophers would creep to within no closer than eight points when just over a minute remained. 

Buford and Sullinger are both just three rebounds away from 600 in their respective careers. 

After Minnesota cut the lead to 70-62 with 1:21 left, the Buckeyes shot 7/8 from the stripe and used a Thomas breakaway jam to secure the 10 point win. 

Dinged with about seven minutes left and in marginal foul trouble, Aaron Craft scored only six points but went off for five assists and six steals in 27 minutes and stroked 4/4 from the line down the stretch while backcourt mate Lenzelle Smith Jr. scored seven points and pulled down another seven boards. 

Thomas struggled again scoring 13 points but shooting 5/13 in the process while often getting schooled by Rodney Williams (21 pts, 8/11 FG) at the other end of the flow. 

The Buckeyes shot 45% from the floor overall and went to the stripe 28 times, hitting 22, good for 79%. Matta's troops won the glass 37-32 but were outscored 36-22 in the paint though they did record 10 steals behind Craft's thievery. 

Tied at 12 at the 14:28 mark, the Buckeyes unleashed a 20-0 blitz to take a 32-12 lead with 7:18 left in the half. Ohio State shot 60% during the spurt and drained 7/8 from the line while holding the Gophers to 0/7 from the field with six turnovers. 

As with virtually all conference roadies, the home team responded closing the final 6:42 with a 12-3 run to trail 40-28 at the break. 

Tubby's decision to switch to zone was key to the Minnesota comeback with the Gophers holding OSU to 2/10 from the floor as the Buckeyes were content to launch from distance despite hitting just 1/6. 

Even with the late run surrendered, the first half provided many positives. 

Buford was a beast early hitting his initial four shots on the way to 12 first half points with Sully adding 12 on 3/4 FG and 5/6 FT. He looked much more fluid, facing up and splashing a few midrange jumpers to offset his power game. 

Smith was his swiss army self with six points and four rips, three of the offensive variety while Craft didn't take a shot but dropped five dimes and picked three pockets. 

The 20-0 run also saw many reserves contribute with Amir Williams showing some game with a quick bucket, rebound and blocked shot. Sam Thompson scored four points during the run with a breakaway dunk off a Shannon Scott steal before taking a Buford alley-oop for two more. 

The two main areas of concern tonight came in the form of another sluggish night from Thomas and the team's struggles against the Gopher zone. Even when the ball movement was crisp, the team was still readily accepting of taking threes especially during Minnesota's 12-3 run to close the half. 

Oh, and it doesn't appear LaQuinton Ross is too happy - I can only assume with his lack of playing time - based on his tweet, "Don't know how much longer I can take this BULLSHIT!!!!!". That's certainly no fun to read especially with the rumors/whispers of potential transfers from others not happy with their PT. I think that's just smoke from young kids upset with playing time but hopefully it'll go away quickly. 

The win improved Ohio State to 22-4 overall and 10-3 in conference, taking a half game lead over idle Michigan State. Sparty hosts #17 Wisconsin this Thursday night at 7pm. 

Next up for the Buckeyes, a Saturday trip to Ann Arbor for a 9pm tip against #19 Michigan. The rivalry has been extremely good to OSU of late with Matta's squads winning six straight and 15 of the last 17. 


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Kalamazoo Steve's picture

Gophers are well coached and the Barn is a bitch for the visitors. Great needed win. Matta had folks ready tonight.

SEC BUCKEYE's picture

I hope Buford can stay consistent with the midrange game and not take so many 3's....Thomas and Craft should develop that 3 arsenal buckeyes would be unstoppable if that were to happen

All labor that uplifts humanity has dignity and importance and should be undertaken with painstaking excellence. ~Martin Luther King, Jr.

funky123's picture

For sure WB needs to keep this type of game going for the rest of the season for the Bucks to have a shot. Still would like to see Williams get more floor time.

gravey's picture

Poor game plan by Tubby.  Didn't they watch the tape from IU and MSU?  Mug Sully until the refs stop calling anything, he's frustrated and then watch the rest of the team freak out and go 2 for 24?   Bet Wisky won't hesitate to play hack-a-sully.

OK win, but we still look shaky on D and occasionally lost on O.  

tampa buckeye's picture

They moved the ball very well last night and sully isnt going to force things like he did vs msu. This is a different team moving forward if they keep that ball movement up.
Final four if they keep it up great win on the road vs a quality opponent.

Bucks43201's picture

Sources: The Big Ten will make an instant upgrade at officiating next season, by replacing Ed Hightower with Helen Keller.

"You win with people." - Woody Hayes

Breakawayspeed's picture

I have to wonder why the Minny player who tried to inbound the ball and ended up heaving it into Sully's chest at point blank range, was not assessed a technical foul?  A foot or so lower and he's likely down for the count. 

Chris Lauderback's picture

I'm conflicted. As of now, there aren't any rules against it that I know of and the bottom line is if you can't find a guy open on the inbounds and you are close to a 5 second call, you only have two options: call timeout or check the ball off the guy guarding the inbounds pass. You can't just throw the ball inbounds to a covered man or take a 5 second call and turn it over because you want to be nice. At least not until they create a rule for it (unless I'm oblivious to a current rule).

Obviously, launching the ball at a guy's sack is a bit sketchy but until they change the rules that's (1) better than taking it in the face and (2) I understand not throwing it at his feet because Sully's jumping up and down and also because many inbound defenders anticipate that throw-off-the-inbounder move and can more easily dodge it.



RBuck's picture

I officiated high school and small college hoops for 18 years. I have called this before although it was for throwing the ball into the guarding player's face. A flagrant T and ejection for intentionally trying to injure another player. A judgement call which would fall under unsportsmanlike conduct. Sorry, don't have a rule book anymore.

Long live the southend.

Is it Saturday Yet's picture

Any scoop on how Ross is coming along in practices? When he's been in he hasn't done much of anything from what I've seen.

Lincoln's picture

I really liked what I saw out of Amir Williams in limited minutes last night. I would like to see more of him at the 5 and Sully at the 4. I think Thomas wears down bad as the game goes on and it really effects him on both ends of the floor.

dubjayfootball90's picture

Ross has to take that to the coach, not to twitter. I know its social media and you can express your thoughts, but damn. If I was unhappy with my current 'job' I am not going to twitter so my followers can either agree or disagree. I am going to the boss and talkin g how to remedy the situation..... I hate twitter

You can feed a bobcat all the chili it wants. That don't mean it's going to crap out diamonds.

thatlillefty's picture

twitter is great for many things but not complaining about PT... have the feeling Matta will soon let him know, if he hasn't already

Pam's picture

LQ deleted his tweet and apologized

tampa buckeye's picture

Now maybe he will see some p.t.?

Arizona_Buckeye's picture

Is it just the dry Arizona air or does this team look a little off?  I can't put my finger on it but they don't appear to be as dominant right now as they were in the beginning of the season.  I would love to be incredibly wrong in my perception but I really don't see this team, in it's current level of play, going all that far in the tourney!

The best thing about Pastafarianism? It is not only acceptable, but advisable, to be heavily sauced

tampa buckeye's picture

The problem with this team is the big ten is the best in america. just ask kentucky.
Everything is going to be fine with this team if they keep playing d and moving the ball on offense.

BucksShockTheWorld's picture

What I dont understand is why Amir Williams isnt getting more time. Last night was another example of what he can do. Another thing is why not try to play zone on defense. When Matta first came to OSU he would never play man because he said he didnt have the guys to do it. Well the only guys you have on this team are Craft and Smith (Thompson has done well too but he comes off the bench). Bring in Amir and hide Thomas in a zone. These guys are good at attacking the boards. Amir can be a serious defensive eraser!

Lincoln's picture

Yup This. Or move Sully to 4 for a while in the zone to protect against fouls and use his ability to hit jump shots on O.