Buckeyes Click for 40 Minutes in 89-55 Win over Long Beach State

By Kyle Rowland on December 8, 2012 at 3:30p

Before the season, Ohio State’s players and coaches talked about the team developing a new identity. That on-court personality would revolve around turning in-your-face defense into high-percentage shots in transition. 

Deshaun Thomas led the Buckeyes' offensive onslaught. 

It worked to a certain degree during the first week of the season. But the past two games were a constant struggle. The offense was lagging, which resulted in sloppy play on the other end of the court.

But, against Long Beach State, everything finally fell into place for 40 minutes. Ohio State won, 89-55, and accomplished the goals they set forth at the outset of the season.

The Buckeyes scored 21 fastbreak points, a majority of which came off 13 Long Beach turnovers. Aaron Craft forced a handful of turnovers in the game, including three in the first four minutes. Still, head coach Thad Matta doesn’t believe defense has become the team’s identity yet because they continually have to revisit defensive aspects in practice. 

Long Beach State head coach Dan Monson might share a differing opinion.

“Defensively, they just got into us and frustrated us,” Monson said. “Craft is as good of an on-ball defender as anyone in the country. (Long Beach State point guard) Mike (Caffey) is going to be a good point guard for us, but you have to give all the credit to Aaron.”

Ohio State ranked 59th in the nation and in the middle of the Big Ten in points allowed per possession entering Saturday’s game.

The 49ers, facing a top-10 team for the second time in three days, shot 31 percent from the field and 25 percent from three-point range. Ohio State enjoyed an overwhelming advantage on the boards, outrebounding Long Beach State, 49-33.

“All week coach (Matta) has been challenging us, talking about toughness and being able to get stops on defense,” junior guard Lenzelle Smith Jr. said. “When we come out and play like this, we hope coach is going to cut back on some of those defensive drills in practice. We’re connected and playing well. As long we are communicating, I don’t think teams can score consistently against us.”

Craft, the reigning Big Ten defensive player of the year, admitted that he and the team’s offensive struggles have contributed to the defensive woes. Craft normally carries a mild-mannered demeanor on the court, but had become flustered in the early season, as his shots have not fallen.

OSU's D gave Long Beach fits all day.

“Playing defense is a total mindset and a total attitude,“ Craft said. “When we grasp that as a team, and we do at times, we can be pretty good. And that’s going to lead to our best offense, layups in transition and things like that.”

Today was one of those days.

Ohio State shot 47 percent from the field after being below 40 percent in the past two games. The Buckeyes assisted on 22 of their 31 field goals. All 11 Ohio State players who appeared in the game scored, four finishing in double figures.

“I felt like all those guys that came in brought some energy and cohesiveness,” Matta said about the bench. “They shared the basketball. It seemed like they had a pretty good flow defensively of what we wanted to accomplish.”

Deshaun Thomas led all scorers with 18 points, LaQuinton Ross had 16 points off the bench, Smith contributed 14 points and nine rebounds and Sam Thompson finished with a career-high 13 points. Shannon Scott had nine assists in 25 minutes.

But Ohio State’s day started off much like its past two games. The Buckeyes missed six of its first nine shots before converting on four straight, including two three-pointers while adding a pair of free throws.

That spurt was part of a 9-0 Ohio State run that put it up, 25-13. From there, Long Beach State never threatened. The Buckeyes led, 39-25, at the half.

Ross, who has been called on to be a complement to Thomas’ scoring, did so again today. But it was the other areas of his game that stood out on Saturday. Along with 16 points, Ross had four assists and nine rebounds.

“He needs to focus on all of the little aspects of the game,” Matta said about Ross. “To his credit, he has done that recently and been very tuned-in in practice and in games. He is playing his best basketball.”

Ross has averaged 19 points in more than 20 minutes in the Buckeyes’ past two games.

Craft left early in the second half with a severe cut over his right eye. He left briefly with the team doctor in tow to the locker room. Matta said after the game that Craft would receive six stitches. He isn’t expected to miss any games.


Comments Show All Comments

buckeyenut10's picture

Someone should tell Sam Thompson that the dunk contest doesn't start until the end of the season.

David Sokol's picture

Team has the potential to be super dangerous. If Ross, Thompson, Scott and Amir all gain confidence, this could be a very tough team to stop come Feb and March (and hopefully April).

CO 303 Buckeye's picture

Completely agree!  I put my ideal lineups in the comments below.  These young guys are going to be incredibly dangerous, the the proven guys are well, proven lol.  Final 4 bound for sure IF everything goes as planned.  Big if, but I think the Buckeyes have it in them.  Maybe Matta won't have to coach as much in-game if the offense continues to light it up, which to be quite frank might not be the worst thing.

old_rasputin's picture

Quite so.  One of the very few criticisms that could be lobbied against Matta is that his bench does not contribute a whole lot in March.  I have not heard that argument this year because of the ligitamate scoring threats sitting on the bench.  It would seem to me that this team has greater depth than in recent memory.  Comments?

"We hate to lose, but when we do, rest assured we'll be back, and someone will pay the price." Coach Hayes

tennbuckeye19's picture

I really liked what I saw of this team today. Even though the competition wasn't great, it gave Matta another chance to get guys experience and to do some really good things, especially on the defensive end which created offense.
Another trend I'm enjoying seeing: Amir Williams is actually making some free throws! Starting with the Duke game when he went 4-6, then against NKU he was 2-2, and today he was 5-8. Let's hope that trend continues. For the season he's hitting them @ about 50%.

Brutus's picture

Someone please explain because i know little about bball: Is the goal to make Scott the primary PG with Craft focusing on defense and maybe scoring? Is this a better lineup for us? I haven't seen the two together on the court that much (though I think they had a fair number of minutes together against Duke), so I don't know if this has been working.  Is Scott the better ball handler? I think Scott has improved tremendously over last year, but has our overall play at PG improved?

LadyBuck's picture

The goal is to have options to throw at all different teams. With both Craft and Scott in the game, Matta has two ball handlers in the game, hopefully cutting down on turnovers and keeping teams on their toes. In addition, Scott is quite a good defender, and has flashes of Conley (at least, his propensity to get steals that I saw the past two games). With Scott in the game, Craft is usually in the 2 position, which allows him to focus on defending the best guard, and (hopefully) move off-ball and get some offense. Scott is a good enough defender that Matta can put him on the opposing PG.
Scott's biggest challenge is to make better decisions. As seen in the Duke game and in these other cupcake games, he doesn't always make the best in-game choices. There are times when he needs to either slow down, look around, and/or pass out to other people. He tends to drive blindly into the lane, get caught, and either chuck up a bad shot or turn it over.
With Scott coming into his own, it allows Matta the luxury of choosing what kind of line-up he wants. If he wants to go small and strong defensively, he could go Craft-Scott-Smith-Deshaun-Amir/Rav. Or, if he wants to go big and defensively strong, Craft/Scott-Smith-Thompson-Deshaun-Amir/Rav. You can do much the same with the offensive side, too. Matta having trust in both Craft and Scott just adds another facet to this team, making it harder to game plan them.

Brutus's picture

Nicely done. Thank you.

LadyBuck's picture

I am happy to see most of everyone is progressing nicely. We are making FTs early, and W is coming around on the offensive side (though he does need to work on his D). The best part of this game? We covered the spread.

GABuckeye's picture

I find it interesting that McDonald got as much PT as Amir.

CO 303 Buckeye's picture

After watching today, I think that an amazing offensive and solid defensive lineup that should be on the floor a minimum of 20 minutes per game for quick scoring and offensive runs is as follows:
1- Aaron Craft
2- Shannon Scott (splitting PG duties) or Lenzelle Smith Jr.
3- Sam Thompson
4- LaQuinton Ross
5- Deshaun Thomas
That obviously isn't the biggest lineup,  but it is the type of group that could go on a 15-0 scoring run at any moment.  Even if Deshaun is off and Craft plays like he has been recently on offense, the other three guys can light it up from the outside, not to mention attack the rim (as witnessed by Thompson's aeuronautical theatrics on the alley-oop tonight, I mean DAMN) and get easy points while getting fouled.
A more realistic starting 5 that could legitimately play most of a game if on top of everything:
1- Craft (offense has been shabby but his D is the truth and he should play because of it no matter what- the fast break opportunities he creates are astounding)
2- Smith Jr.
3- Quint Ross
4- Thomas
5- Evan Ravenel (maybe Amir Williams by March, but Ravenel simply brings more offensive at the moment)
For this starting 5, the two deep- who should get plenty of PT- would be:
1- Scott
2/3- Thompson (should get at LEAST 20 min a game somehow)
2/3- Della Valle (good for 5-7 min a game and 6-9 pts once he is a 35% 3 point shooter, so maybe by Jan.)
4/5- Amir Williams
Having played basketball for my entire life until a few years ago, I can honestly say that this team has too many weapons for all the playing time to go around.  They are young, but if they improve on a linear (or hopefully exponential) curve as they should, they WILL be the best team in the country come March.  Craft will eventually hit an offensive flow as he did near the end of last year.  This offense will be absolutely lethal.  Teams will be double teaming Deshaun, but by the end of the season everybody else will be a damn good threat.  So, the double teams will grow less frequent, and The Microwave will start putting in 30-35 points a game.  That, or Ross, Thompson and Scott will have wide open looks that they have proven they can hit and they will make up for the points that D. Thomas isn't producing.  I know tonight was LBSU, but they are a tourney team.  They will win their conference, and we made them look JV this evening.  I am so excited to see this group in a couple months.  If we were to play Duke again in say the Elite 8, I think we might beat them by 15 or 20 points since we have so so so much higher of a ceiling than the Blue Devils, who are currently #2.  Indiana is the biggest threat, and those will be a couple GREAT games.  Indy might take game 1, but by game 2 we should have them.  Then, of course, the rematch will be in the Big Ten tourney championship, then maybe again in the Final 4.  I am very up on this team right now.  They put on a show tonight.  
OH-IO baby!

CO 303 Buckeye's picture

I forgot to include a defensive lineup, which Matta certainly has in his repetoire-
1- Craft (no brainer)
2- Scott (a true whirling dervish, just like Craft)
3- Ross/Thompson (Both have excellent reach and speed)
4- Ravenel
5- Amir Williams
Not a great offensive lineup, but if we need a couple stops and have the timeouts to do the offensive-defensive subs near the end of a game, this is definitely the way to go.  I love the idea of the Twin Towers underneat, although Williams is no Olajuwon lol.
*Also, I include Williams assuming he learns to put his arms straight up and not go for the emphatic Swatanga every time, which I'm sure Matta will have him work on throughout the season.
This team reminds me of my 10th grade JV team because the players have a similar style- of course it is high school, but the teams are similar and we did go 22-0 in one of the toughest conferences in Colorado... /ends trip down memory lane/

zbd's picture

Aaron Craft does everything well except shoot.  He can't shoot. Sam Thompson must be related to David Thompson the old North Carolina State legend. He can really sky. Amir Williams and Ravenel need to start rebounding and playing better defense when league games start.

kareemabduljacobb's picture

I love Q.  He's only going to get better as the season goes on as he learns more and gains more confidence... but 10 ppg and 5 rpg in only 19 mins isn't too shabby.  If Thad would have played him in the 2nd half of the Duke game we would have won.

osubuckeye4life's picture

I like what I'm seeing. This team has a ways to go but they are making progress.