Deshaun Thomas finished strong with 25 points and 10 rebounds to help Ohio State defeat Rhode Island in the first day of the Hall of Fame Tip-Off Classic at Mohegan Sun Resort and Casino on Saturday.
His hot hand continued into Sunday, where OSU claimed the mini-tournament title by a score of 77-66 against the Washington Huskies.
Thomas started the game against Washington hitting 9/12 shots (3/5 3-pointers) to lead the team with 21 points while also grabbing 2 rebounds, in just the first half, as the Buckeyes went into the break leading the Huskies, 41-31.
Thad Matta's team had to fend off early struggles against the UW interior play, as Evan Ravenel and Amir Williams had their hands full with Jernard Jarreau and Aziz N'Diaye, but OSU's defense clamped down to eventually halt the Huskies' offensive game, propelling their own 24-13 run to end the first period of play.
Guard play was the key to the run that set the table for the rest of the game, as Aaron Craft scored 8 points and dished 4 assists, while Shannon Scott came off the bench to add 4 points.
In addition to the offensive output from the back court, Craft, Scott, and Lenzelle Smith Jr. combined for five steals in the first half and the team had just one turnover to help ignite the transition game that proved to be the formula to success on the afternoon.
In the second half, it was more of the same for Ohio State, as Washington never got closer than 7 points and the Buckeyes held a double-digit lead for most of the remaining time.
The issues on the inside for OSU were fixed at halftime, as Williams and Ravenel clamped down on the defensive side of the ball, holding N'Diaye to just two points, while scoring a combined 17 points and grabbing 7 rebounds in the contest.
Thomas continued to do what he does best, scoring 31 points in the game on 12/21 shooting, while Aaron Craft finished another strong offensive output with 18 points on 5/11 from the field and 8/8 from the charity stripe.
As a team, the Buckeyes were much improved from yesterday's shaky performance in the win against URI, hitting on 47.4% of their shots and getting to the foul line 26 times, hitting 20. They won the battle on the glass, 30-24, as well as the turnover battle, 13-6, to advance to 3-0 on the season.
Washington dropped to 2-2 on the season, after falling to Albany earlier last week and beating Loyola (MD) to start the year and Seton Hall in overtime in their first game in Uncasville.
CJ Wilcox led the Huskies with 18 points on 7/12 shooting (4/7 from 3-point land), while Abdul Gaddy put up 15 and N'Diaye finished with 9 points and 10 rebounds.
Ohio State now gets four days off before resuming play after Thanksgiving when they take on Missouri-Kansas City in their next game on Friday at 6 PM EST at Value City Arena.
The Buckeyes certainly have a lot to work on, mainly getting consistency from their role players and improved play on the interior, but they showed a lot of promise in their two wins at Mohegan Sun and emerged from the weekend as Hall of Fame Tip-Off champions.