Youth Shows Up in Second Half as Buckeyes Fall to Duke 73-68

By Kyle Rowland on November 29, 2012 at 1:45a

For 34 minutes, it looked like Ohio State would come into Cameron Indoor Stadium and put a halt to the nation’s longest home non-conference win streak. But the young Buckeyes’ inexperience caught up with them during crucial periods late in the game. 

Craft and the Buckeyes could never get the offense rolling.

Duke scored 50 second-half points after being limited to 23 in the first half to beat Ohio State, 73-68. Three of Duke’s seven wins on the season have come against teams ranked fourth or higher at game time.

Duke’s Mason Plumlee continued his torrid start, finishing with 21 points and 17 rebounds, a performance that will only boost his early national player of the year candidacy. But it was two other Blue Devils that delivered daggers to the Buckeyes.

Freshman Rasheed Sulaimon scored all 17 of his points in the second half and six of Ryan Kelly’s 15 points came on back-to-back three-pointers that gave Duke a 56-53 lead with 5:42 left in the game. It was part of a decisive 20-7 run. Duke would not relinquish the lead.

“We just didn’t do a good job of staying together,” Ohio State point guard Aaron Craft said. “They started going on a run and we couldn't weather it.”

Following Ohio State’s 85-63 win in Columbus last November, Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski lamented the fact that his team had to fly some 4,700 miles and endure a six-hour time change the week prior after playing in – and winning – the Maui Invitational.

The same complaints arose Wednesday despite Duke winning. The Blue Devils decided to stay closer to game this season, spending the Thanksgiving holiday in the Bahamas. Duke beat three potential NCAA Tournament teams – Minnesota, VCU and Louisville – en route to its tournament title in the Battle 4 Atlantis.

The fatigue was thought to be a factor because of Duke’s slow start. Ohio State began the first half Wednesday similar to last season’s Duke game – on fire. In its dismantling of the Blue Devils last November, Ohio State scored the game’s first 11 points.

“When you play the schedule that we’ve played, this is not XBox or fantasy stuff where these guys are healthy all the time,” Krzyzewski said. “We just played three games, got back Sunday afternoon and go out and play (Ohio State) on Wednesday. That’s an effort – that's a hell of an effort.”

On Wednesday, Ohio State jumped out to an 18-11 lead and led by as many 10 in the first half. At halftime, the Buckeyes were in front, 31-23, despite playing the final 10 minutes without Deshaun Thomas and the final four and a half without Craft, after each picked up two fouls.

During one stretch in the half, Duke was held without a field goal for more than 10 minutes.

The Ohio State bench, a question mark entering the season, showed up big when it lost its two most seasoned scorers. The Buckeyes’ reserves outscored Duke 11-2 in the first half and 18-4 for the game.  All the points came from Shannon Scott, LaQuinton Ross and Amir Williams. Williams added 10 rebounds.

Ohio State outrebounded Duke 22-16 in the first half and 11-3 on offense. But the Blue Devils came back in the second half by holding a three-point rebound advantage on the Buckeyes.

Rasheed Sulaimon scored 17 points in the second half.

Duke cut Ohio State’s eight-point halftime lead to three before the first TV timeout. But the Blue Devils were only able to get within one until Kelly’s threes pushed them over the hump.

“Once he hit those threes, it was like, ‘Yes, we’re here,’” Sulaimon said. “Once we got that lead, we weren’t going to give it up.”

After making just six field goals in the first half, Duke converted 18 in the second half. Its shooting percentage rose from 30 percent to nearly 60. Ohio State’s backcourt defense that stymied the Blue Devils in the first half lapsed after the break.

Ohio State’s first-half offense wasn’t considerably better – the Buckeyes shot 32 percent – but it attempted 14 more field goals than Duke. Ohio State’s second-half average was much the same. It shot only 34 percent from the field for the game.

“If you had told me we were going to shoot 34 percent, I would have said we got ran out of the gym tonight,” Matta said.

Deshaun Thomas led the Buckeyes with 16 points, but he was only 6 of 14 from the field. Thomas was visibly frustrated much of the night. Aaron Craft played one of the worst games of his career offensively. He finished with 11 points on 3 of 15 shooting. Craft missed badly on a few shots. The most glaring part of his stat line was one assist and three turnovers. He did limit Quinn Cook to a 3 of 10 shooting night, though Cook did dish out eight assists.

Lenzelle Smith also scored 11 points.

Duke’s victory gave the Atlantic Coast Conference its sixth win in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge. The tie score of six games to six games means the Big Ten will retain the Commissioner’s Cup.

After last season’s loss to Ohio State, Mike Krzyzewski talked about how his butt was sore from the 22-point loss. For Thad Matta, Wednesday night was more heartache than butt whipping.

“I know I haven’t forgotten,” said Kelly, about Duke’s loss last season. “When you lose that badly, you don’t feel good for days. I couldn’t sleep. Winning is a great feeling, but losing, especially that badly, is worse in the other direction.”

If ever there was a moral victory to be had, it was Wednesday. Ohio State was a decided underdog, but almost scraped out a win in arguably the toughest venue in college basketball. Duke’s win was its 97th consecutive home non-conference win.

The college basketball season is a process, and the Buckeyes now have a barometer of what type of team they are and what areas need fine-tuned from now until March.

Ohio State was supposed to have early-season tests, but Mother Nature and prognosticating didn’t work out. The Buckeyes were set to open the season against perennial March contender Marquette in the Carrier Classic on the deck of the USS Yorktown. Condensation on the court, however, led to the cancellation of the game. It will not be rescheduled.

Ohio State played in the Naismith Hall of Fame Tip-Off Classic the next week in Uncasville, Conn., but opponents Rhode Island and Washington, which have had high levels of success in the past decade, are in the midst of a down season.       

Duke does not fit into that down category. The Blue Devils have staked their claim as the nation’s best team just three weeks into the five-month season.                                                                                  


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javalen's picture

God damn this game was frustrating to watch.
Why did the Buckeyes seemingly go away from Deshaun in the later stretches of the second half?
Why can't Amir make easy putbacks?
Ugh. They're obviously a good team, but damn, they could have won this game.
Oh well. It's a long season.

Seabass1974's picture

Deshaun was missing a lot of shots in the second half. I was disappointed at the end of the game when the ball went off of Duke out of bounds and the refs got it wrong. At least they never gave up and showed a lot of fight. We are a good team we just need some time. Oh well, at Ohio State we pick ourselves up, do a little dust off and get ready for the next one.

The harder you work, the harder it is to surrender. - Woody Hayes

GhostofWoody's picture

My son and I live in NC now, and got tickets to watch the game at Cameron Indoor, so that was a great experience.  btw, we weren't harassed by any Dukies and mostly (aside from the loss) enjoyed ourselves.  I was told the place was small, but I didnt realize the place was also old and really hot during the games ( I was told by a Duke alum that coach K turns off the A/C during the games...don't know if thats true or an urban legend). 
It seemed that in the 2nd half, Craft's inability to score allowed Duke to blanket DT.  they basically left Craft open to shoot.  Tough place to play for sure, and I agree that in the 2nd half, we looked a bit rattled.  Amir needs to play stronger inside (sure missed Sullly in this one).  OVerall though, I was proud we played them tough in their snakepit gym and nearly came away with a win. 

Squirrel Master's picture

If memory serves me, Cameron indoor doesn't even have AC. 

I saw a UFO told me to have a goodyear!

brylee's picture

It was like Craft and Scott forgot how to pass the damn ball in the 2nd half.  There were a bunch of shots that the bucks went down the floor and attempted without a single pass.  That's fundemental 6th grad instructional league basketball.  As simplistic as it sounds, it does work.

Jhesse17's picture

Could not agree more. Scott and Craft forcing up contested jumpers early in the shot clock is not what we as a team need.

ATXbucknut's picture

Winnable game to be sure, but we just didn't get it done in the second half. I honestly think we got tired on defense in the 2nd period.
We must get more production from Amir and/or Evan. Amir looked great first half and then disappeared.
Overall, not a horrible loss.  Can't wait to see the Schott rockin' when KU comes to town next month.  We owe them .

Buckeyevstheworld's picture

The feelings of Buckeye loss. I haven't felt this in 7 months. Almost forgot what it felt like. Yeah, it still sucks.

Why isn't Ross a starter?

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buck-I.8's picture

To be sure, though, no OSU basketball loss will ever come close to the feeling of a football shortcoming

Is it Saturday Yet's picture

A loss early in the season to a really good team doesn't hurt us like it does in football, to be sure.  Still sucks to see the basketball team lose.  

CO 303 Buckeye's picture

A loss in the tourney hurts as bad as any football loss EXCEPT Michigan and a major bowl game.  This time of year, not so much.

buck-I.8's picture

See, I wholly disagree. But i suppose it's relative. No other sport played by no other team could ever mean as much to me than my football buckeyes.

Is it Saturday Yet's picture

Our lack of games against good teams hurt us in this one.  We were sloppy and rattled at times but I was impressed with how the team played in that insane environment.  Can't wait so see how this team will improve and grow over the season.

Oyster's picture

The experience they gained will pay off in the conference games, especially the hostile evnvironments.  Also, the loss will not hurt them at all in the long run.

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D. Anthony's picture

I don't think the problem was "out youth shows up..."... The poor play and bad shooting came in large part from some of our more seasoned players. While our player most capable of helping with our horrible shooting, the player most needing the opportunity for some seasoning La Q was left on the bench almost the entire 2nd half until the last couple minutes when things slipped away and Thad remembered to look to his left. Again, I love Thad and he knows what he's doing but he still takes way too long to trust some of these McDonald's All Americans. I saw someone giving him credit for getting La Q some good minutes in the 1st half, but I think it was clear he wouldn't have gotten much at all if it wasn't for he foul trouble forcing his hand. Q can score. Thad says the best 5 defenders will play, but we all know Thomas isn't o e of the top 5...but we need him and Q even if that makes the D a little weaker. Without enough threats to really score out opponents won't need to worry to much about playing D themselves. Duke cracked the code in the 2nd half: let anyone but Thomas shoot and sag back to collect all the misses because they're only beating is with 2nd chance points...we built at 10 point lead at Duke shooting in the 37% range. Once they sealed us out on the boards, our fate was sealed.

D. Anthony

Buckeye Chuck's picture

Agree on everything, excellent post. Playing mix-and-match with his bench, and sensing the flow of a game, are not Matta strengths.

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RedStorm45's picture

This should have been a 20 point lead 25 minutes into the game.  We have absolutely no chance in March if we're going to shoot 32%.  I've never seen a supposed top 5 team shoot this piss poor...uncontested shots, layups not even drawing iron, 6 foot bunnies that sail over the rim.  My goodness it's like they didn't practice shooting all summer.  Thompson is a liability offensively.  Craft is a liability offensively.  Our best scorers, in order, are Thomas...Ross, maybe Smith, and then probably Amadeo.
4-23 shooting from the PG.  PATHETIC.  How many times did Scott come down take about 4 dribbles and chuck up a prayer in the 2nd half?  Then the offense turned to pick and pop with Craft and Thomas and Craft can't hit the broad side of a barn.
This is concerning.  Thad HAS to play another guy offensively - Ross - over Thompson.  If your only go-to guy is Thomas, well, it's real predictable.  And they had all offseason and pre-season to work sets in to get Thomas good looks.  What do they run? Pick & pop and hope Brian Kelly sags off of our best player to cut off a guy shooting worse then 20%!! Unimaginative play calling down the stretch.  Thad got out-coached by Coach K (if your offense sucks, put in the guy who had 9 points in 11 minutes!! Hello??!) and I thought he got out-coached by Kansas in our season finale last year.

BuckeyesMJ's picture

I don't know about being outcoached. The game is about matchups & Duke ran a 3 guard offense most of the night. True, Ross did score, but he can't defend a pylon. Could you really see him trying to guard Curry or Suiamon? And if you put him on someone down low he gets muscled everytime. Perhaps Matta could've kept subbing Ross in and out for offense. We also need better play from Craft & Scott. Craft had 0 touch on his shot last night. And Scott, WOW, he's been a disappointment so far. I watched him a few times his senior year in high school & the kid could absolutely score the basketball. He would take games over at times. Now he has 0 confidence and 1 for 8 doesn't help.

Doc's picture

Disappointing for sure, but encouraging as well.  I am befuddled why they went away from their offense in the second half and didn't pass the ball at all.  I know Craft needs to score more to be another weapon on offense, but running the offense threw him, instead of Deshaun, was silly.  Give the ball to your best scorer, so he can, you know, score.  Hopefully this will help them on the road in Bloomington, East Lansing and Madison.

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Buckeyes almost won in Cameron Indoor...without Sully and Buford. Thats arguably the hardest place to win in the country. Yeah I know almost doesnt count, but it was one hell of an effort regardless
They were playing against Coach K in his house. Thats a chore in itself and the Buckeyes made him sweat I am sure.
First half they were flawless. They play like that most of the time they're going to be hard to beat.
The officiating didn't help the Buckeyes AT ALL
Buckeyes did seem to wear down a little. If the Buckeyes biggest problem is conditioning that's something they can easily fix.
Buckeyes definitely have a leadership void to fill. Craft cant carry this team on his back like Sully did. Thomas can but he has to play LOADS better than he did last night. Did Duke make defensive adjustments on Thomas or did he just get timid?
Gave up 50 points in the second half. That shows they were either really tired or they still have a TON of growing up to do. Probably both
If the Buckeyes dont develop a solid post player, they're going to have a rough go of it in the B1G. If Amir and Ravenel don't improve we are going to be solely a perimeter team the rest of the way. Shows what a hole Sully left behind.
They were playing against Coach K in his house.
I still think they can win the B1G, though I think road wins in hostile environments are going to be difficult to get judging by this game. I would say right now they would lose at Indiana, at TTUN and at MSU. Thomas needs to step up and the post players need to improve dramatically.

"Sherman ran an option play right through the south" - Greatest Civil War analogy EVER.

Grant Edgell's picture

Seemed Thad fell in love with the defensive intensity from the first half and left DT (somewhat) alone on offense in the second half with everything beginning and ending with Craft. That's all well and good if you're going to pitch a Fickell-like shutout in the second half, but giving up 17 to Rasheed Sulaimon after the halftime break pretty well destroys that plan.
Certainly would liked to have seen more Q in the second half, as a few have mentioned.

AndyVance's picture

Defense wins championships, and our defense was solid in the first half; some ill-advised fouls kept the Blue Devils in the game prior to the break, as our presence on the boards was outstanding.
The biggest problem I saw in the second half for the Buckeyes, aside from a much less impressive effort to pull down the rebounds, was a much more hurried offense taking bad shots. Watching the second half I was going stratight back to Hoosiers and saying "pass the ball." We got across the timeline and took the first possible shot rather than setting a play and keeping Duke on our tempo. Many, many times we took the shot with 20-seconds left on the shot clock, and without having passed the ball a single time.
Duke definitely set the tempo in the second half, and it was definitely to their advantage. Fatigue may have been their excuse for the first half, but it did not appear to be a factor - for the home team, at least - in the second half.


It's interesting you should say that. I remember Coach K talking about that same strategy during the Olympics. Dictating the tempo to take the opposing team out if its comfort zone to gain an advantage. I'm thinking this might have also been a bit of outcoaching on Coach K's part.

"Sherman ran an option play right through the south" - Greatest Civil War analogy EVER.

RodVedder4's picture

Um, guys?  Duke is a very good team.  I'm kind of surprised to see the lack of credit being given to them.  Granted, yes, there were plenty of opportunities for Ohio State to win the game, Craft played poorly, DT didn't shoot all that well, etc., etc.  Duke made adjustments, got more aggressive, and got the Crazies back into it in the second half.  The Buckeyes really hung in there until the very end, which showed a lot of toughness that a lot of teams lose in that environment.  I was worried about OSU stopping Mason Plumlee, and interested to see how Duke would match up with Deshaun Thomas, and was impressed with the latter.
Some of you are talking like the Buckeyes lost a winnable game at Illinois, not Duke.  I thought this was a terrific game between two of the best in college basketball.  Officiating was iffy both ways at times, and didn't affect the outcome, I don't think.  Ohio State will be fine, they'll learn from this and be better going forward.

Excellence and greatness will be remembered...there is no room for average. None. - Urban Meyer

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AndyVance's picture

You are correct that:

  1. Duke is an excellent team.
  2. There's no reason to think the Buckeyes are going to have a bad season.
  3. Officiating didn't alter the outcome of the game.

That said, there are plenty of reasons to critique the team's performance and Matta's coaching, because clearly Ohio State had the edge in the first half - some mistakes let Duke's exceptional free-throw shooting keep the Devils in the game despite a complete defensive lockdown by the Buckeyes.
Had our guys maintained their focus on dictating the tempo and continued their defensive stand in the second half, the outcome could have easily been on the order of what the team did at home last season.

Timotheos's picture

How was Q's defense in the first half? I missed the first 15 minutes.

OldColumbusTown's picture

This is a young team, making their first trip together in a hostile environment.  Scott, Thompson, Williams, and Ross have not experienced anything like that before, while being expected to play important minutes.
Craft had his worst game overall, probably of his career.  Thomas was mostly non-existent in the 2nd half when Duke decided they weren't going to let him have touches.  Bad shots were taken, bad fouls committed...  and yet this team lost by 6 on the road to a team who has already been tested and beaten Kentucky and Louisville (not too mention the now 97-game home winning streak against non-conference opponents).
Look at the peripheral statistics, and you begin to see a much better picture.  Craft had 1 assist and 3 turnovers.  That won't happen again, ever.  They shot 34% from the field, including 28% from 3.  They missed shots and didn't execute well enough to get better shots.  They committed 23 fouls, which is unheard of for a Thad Matta coached team.  That will all be corrected.  They also outrebounded Duke, shot well as a team from the FT line, and did not turn the ball over much at all.
It all points to the fact this is a tough, young group who made correctable mistakes in their first trip to a hostile environment.  Things are looking up, in my mind, for this being a special year again in March.

tennbuckeye19's picture

I was actually encouraged by many aspects of the game, especially what I saw in the 1st half. The 2nd half was frustrating to watch. I actually had the feeling that if Duke ever took the lead in the game that they would win. It just really felt like there was a major momentum shift taking place with OSU missing shots, taking ill advised shots, having lapses on defense, and missing rebounds and Duke taking control of the glass, knocking down shots and clamping down on D. Obviously, there's A LOT for OSU to work on, but this game was a good gauge to see how they match up with an elite caliber team. December will be a good month for the team to figure some things out as they will play some decent teams mixed in with some cupcakes and highlighted by a showdown with Kansas when they come to Columbus the 22nd.

chimes3899's picture

you can probably take away about five of the 23 fouls cause of the very end of the game to start. The weakest part of our game tonight was the simple fact that craft and Scott could not hit an open jump shot whether it was a 3 or a 15 footer. Scott really needs to slow the game down when he is playing point. he seems like he is rushing himself into some bad shots. Thomson may not be the greatest offensive threat but his defense is phenomenal. if OSU is built on defense he needs to remain a starter. ross is a great scorer but is too much of a defensive liability for the buckeyes to compete with elite teams with him on the court. lastly Amir Williams should probably be starting he has way more upside then ravenal and gives OSU an extra dimension with the offensive rebounds. 
OSU would have won if they could have made open shots or just moved the ball around more instead of firing up the first available shot. The clock was on our side and although I love Thad it was fairly clear coach k made an adjustment or 2 at halftime and Ohio state wasn't able to adjust which shows he was probably outcoached in the 2nd half. This game was exactly like Kansas last year in that OSU won the first half but couldn't handle the 2nd adjustments by the opposing team. In most cases that points to being outcoached. I am not saying Thad is bad coach but he has been outcoached in the past 2 buckeyes losses but to 2 of the best coaches in the country. 

Jhesse17's picture

We need someone to step up and fill the void Jared Sullinger left. That's a tall order, but I really believe Amir Williams has the talent to do it. I can't advocate for him to get more touches if he doesn't improve his free throw shooting (18%? Really?), but once he shows improvement in this area of his game I'd like to see him get some more touches. I would also like to see a little more LaQuinton Ross. He onlly got 11 minutes against Duke, and I think he would have been useful to have for those stretches where it felt like we couldn't buy a bucket.

Squirrel Master's picture

Duke deserves credit. They definitely turned it up in the second half and found a rhythm.
with that said, I put this lose squarely on Scott. Poor shooting and mistakes were made but OSU was still in control of the game keeping a 4-5 point lead during most of the second half. When Duke got hot, that was when Scott decided he was going to be a one man show. I am stunned Matta let that happen. After the first time he dribbled down and chucked up an off balanced shot, Matta should have taken him out of the game. And why in the hell did he take the ball out of Craft's hands and put Scott in charge pretty much the whole second half? I don't understand that. Craft was operating the offense decently. He was missing his shots but he was passing the ball. I'm sure the 3 guard lineup during most of the 2nd half was due to matchups with Duke but Craft is not a good offensive, off the ball player. So most of the second half was Scott being a 1 man show, and a horrible offensive lineup. Thomas wasn't making shots or getting the ball because there was on reason for Plumlee to leave him. 
but Duke is tough at home and to basically own them like OSU did was pleasantly unexpected. This team will grow and there is plenty of talent to go far. 

I saw a UFO told me to have a goodyear!

BrewstersMillions's picture

At no point did Duke look panicked last night. They started to force some really tough shots for OSU. I won't hang the loss on anyone but one play sticks in my craw something awful this afternoon. When Craft opted for a floater when he probably could have attacked the basket on Plumlee, I remember thinking "That one is going to really hurt". I won't hang the loss on that play but that was a nice microcosm of the second half. OSU and Duke were going back and forth and that could have been a game tying two\leading 3 point play and Craft made a bonehead move on the approach.
With that said, they went into a tough place, kicked Duke's ass for 20 minutes, and for a while there at the end, made the statement that weren't going away and that Duke was going to have to put them away. I really don't feel awful about that game.
What I do feel awful about-we are now going to be subjected to the hero worship of another Duke Senior with no NBA ceiling.

Doc's picture

Did anyone see Herbie and his fam there?  He was wearing a red nike pullover and Cincy Reds ball cap.  What Kirk, no OSU gear?  A least he had red on :/.

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The Official DDS of 11W

CLT Silver Bullet's picture

I was at the game, and they were pointed out to me.  His family was decked out in OSU gear, but he was wearing a white and blue hat with a maroon pullover.  Somewhat strange, and some folks were wondering if he is contractually obligated to not wear specific school gear...who know?

Buckeye_Jake's picture

I have no idea what the point spread was for this game but did anybody else think it was fishy that Plumtard airballs the free-throw at the end of the game?

CLT Silver Bullet's picture

The final line was 5.5 and 6 on some sites, so the conspiracy theories started flying around when that happend.