Thomas Sizzles in Buckeyes' 74-64 Win Over Purdue

By Kyle Rowland on January 9, 2013 at 12:14a

On Monday night, Thad Matta thought the remedy for offensively-challenged Ohio State was another change to the starting lineup. He ultimately decided against it, though, after the Buckeye Five turned in a solid practice that evening. But when Deshaun Thomas shoots like he did against Purdue, it doesn’t matter who else is on the court – on offense or defense. 

A man on a mission.

It may not have been a must-win for the Buckeyes, but it was a we-need-this-one-bad type of game for Matta’s crew. And they got it, winning at Mackey Arena 74-64 over the Boilermakers. Coming off Saturday’s loss, which served as the biggest margin of defeat in four seasons, Ohio State wanted badly to get on the plus side of the win column in the Big Ten, especially with Michigan and Michigan State looming.

“This game was huge, not only for the Big Ten, but to show what type of basketball team we are,” point guard Aaron Craft said. “We could have gone one of two ways, but we went into practice and played hard. It was a reality check. We’re starting to understand that it takes everyday to get better and become a better basketball team.”

Said Shannon Scott: “We needed a statement after the Illinois game. We wanted to show the Big Ten we aren’t joking around. We have to come focused every game and show toughness.”

The path to victory Tuesday went through Thomas, who made his name in high school gymnasiums all over the state of Indiana. He scored 22 points, 14 coming in the first half, to pace the Buckeyes. Thomas added seven rebounds, two steals and a block for good measure. 

“My mind was right for this game,” Thomas said. “We needed this game. We showed toughness. That’s what it was. We got the 50/50 balls.

“When I came in the shoot-around, I made like 10 3s in a row, so I knew I was feeling good. I was feeling good, in a flow and in a good rhythm.”

He wasn't the only one. Ohio State shot 55.6 percent from the field while limiting Purdue to just 38.8 percent shooting in its own arena – iron unkind. The Buckeyes ended the game with a 38-32 advantage in rebounds.

“Deshaun Thomas is as good as it gets,” Purdue head coach Matt Painter said. “You talk about a combo forward who can put the ball in the basket in a variety of ways.”

Ohio State built a double-digit first-half lead with Craft on the bench for a bulk of it. He picked up two fouls 30 seconds apart and exited to the bench with 15:41 remaining in the half. But as he has done throughout this season, Scott facilitated on offense and played the role of pest on defense. His night included four points, six rebounds, eight assists, and just one turnover. Evan Ravenel had 11 points – two fewer than previously thought due to a Purdue player tipping the ball into his own basket – and Craft scored 15 with 13 points coming after the break.

“Welcome to the Big Ten,” said Matta, who got his 100th career win in the tough-as-nails conference. “This wasn’t the type of game you want to play with Purdue’s tenacity. I really thought our players did a good job of comprehending everything they had to do – offensively, scouting and defensively. This is about as big a team win as you can have.”

When Craft arrived at the bench in the first half, Ohio State was leading 7-6. Some 14 minutes later, the Buckeyes went into the locker room with a 10-point advantage. Along with Scott’s heady play at point guard, Ravenel and LaQuinton Ross provided Ohio State with 13 points off the bench. 

“That’s tremendous, that’s huge,” said Craft, showing excitement over Ohio State's bench play. “It wasn’t just one guy. Rav made some huge plays, Sam (Thompson) had a dunk, LaQuinton was driving, attacking hard and finishing at the rim. It’s just great to see those guys get some confidence. That’s what it’s going to take down the road.”

Ravenel stablized the Buckeyes.

Ravenel was the biggest saving grace, spelling Amir Williams, who struggled mightily against seven-footer A.J. Hammons. At both ends of the floor, Ravenel was active. He had three blocks and two defensive rebounds to go along with 11 points and two offensive boards. Ravenel made 5 of 7 field goal attempts and his only shot from the free throw line.

“Evan did what Evan was supposed to do, and he did it with great energy,” Matta said. “I think he’s seen how much of a better player he’ll be if he has that demeanor about him.”

The performance saved the sky from falling in Columbus. In the second half, as home teams tend to do, Purdue made several runs, cutting the deficit to six and seven on multiple occasions. But the Boilermakers could never consistently stop the Buckeyes. Not with Thomas playing the way he did, Craft creating offense and whoever was called on stepping up and hitting a key shot.

A 14-point Ohio State lead with six minutes left shrunk to six points in just three minutes. That, however, was as close as the Boilermakers would get.

It was as if the Buckeyes were a can of Off bug repellent and Purdue was the insect, annoyingly nagging at Ohio State but never capable of finishing the job.

“I thought we had an element of composure about us,” Matta said. “We had to have it because of the environment and the crowd.”

It’s a situation Thomas feeds off of, even more so when he’s in front of his home state fans. He entered the game as the Big Ten’s leading scorer and he extended his per game average of 20.2 by scoring 22. Everyone in the state of Indiana knows what Thomas can do with a basketball in his hand.

“He has NBA 3-point range, has a pull-up and is a great offensive rebounder,” Purdue guard D.J. Byrd said. “You can’t let him have catch-and-shoot 3s. He can get hot real quick.”

He and his teammates found that out the hard way on Tuesday. Thomas made four three-point baskets and was hot – as Byrd termed it – from the word go.

“It’s kind of hard to guard guys like that,” Purdue guard Terone Johnson said.

On Sunday, Matta hopes it’s the same tune Michigan is singing, instead of The Victors.


Comments Show All Comments

ATXbucknut's picture

I hope the Ohio State of this past Saturday doesn't reappear this coming Saturday.  Not just because we're playing ttun, but because of all the recruits in attendance; not that a b-ball game would greatly affect football recruiting, but still.  I just hope we don't get embarrassed.

DetroitBuckeye's picture

I thought that Amir Williams played pretty good and Craft was hitting his shots which always helps.  This is how good we can be when our role players are clicking and when Thomas and Craft are rolling, ravenel was also huge off of the bench.  

oregonianbuckeye's picture

Really great effort and team win. Much better energy, and shot selection. Did a nice job of getting Thomas some open looks in the first half, but tend to go back to the high pick and roll during crunch time. I'd like to see them run that screen series for him more down the stretch, and to post him when teams switch smaller guys on him. Overall, really impressed with Scott, Ravenel, and Craft (who made a lot of key plays offensively to hold the lead). Let's hope this momentum carries over to this weekend.

Lincoln's picture

I think Thomas was REALLY tired the last 8 or so minutes of the game. He was getting beat on D and seemed to have very little energy on offense. I am pretty sure he did not record a bucket during this stretch either. I think he  excels running off those screens, but that is alot of effort and Thad is going to have to figure out a way of getting him some more bench time without the team imploding.

O-H-I-Owe-U's picture

Great gritty win. Really loved the ball movement in the middle 10 minutes of second half. Would like to have seen Q come in for Thomas for 4 or 5 minutes during that stretch because, to your point Lincoln, Thomas' shot and defense really suffers when he's tired. Overall, that was Ohio State basketball.

DJRoss926's picture

Night and day difference from the Illinois game to last night. Great to see this team bounce back after, what I hope is, an apparition. May be wishful thinking but I think we'll see more of this team going forward than the dumpster fire we witnessed in Champaign.

Optimistic Buckeye Pessimist's picture

Certainly a better effort, but we were hanging on for dear life at the end.  The final 10 minutes we went to hell in a hand basket, no defense or offense.  This was a road win, but it was Purdue.  Good to see improved play from Scott and Craft (offensively anyway - had some TOs), but we need to rebound better.  Williams and Rav need to be more aggresive for the entire game on both ends.  Thompson needs to look less for his shot and more for the drive and dunk.  Smith needs to open it up and make something happen instead of being a bystander at the offensive end.  Still lots of improvement to be made.  Glad we hung on after a very nice middle 20 minutes of the game.

Read my entire screen name....

Enzo's picture

The possession at the end where Craft held the ball until under 10sec in the shot clock reminded me of the Mike Brown let LeBron make something happen days. Those usually ended in a desperation 3 and no points.
Matta regressed to his old ways in the second half with his subs. No LQ the second half. Scott on the bench down the stretch.

Squirrel Master's picture

There is a reason Matta stuck with his starters in the second half, they were getting it done and Purdue was trying real hard to get back into the game.
The usual guys that get subbed, Thompson and Smith, were playing the best ball near the end and Thompson hit a clutch shot. I think Thompson needs to keep shooting because he is getting better at it and actually can become a more complete player once he does. He can beat his guy one on one, he can defend, athletic as all. Just needs to get a nice little shot to be more consistent and then I think he could actually be the 2nd best offensive player on this team.
There was subbing going on too. Scott and Ravenel got some play in the second half. Just not the rest because of the tight situation. Matta knew this was a big win and wanted to get it done.

I saw a UFO told me to have a goodyear!

Optimistic Buckeye Pessimist's picture

Thompson did hit the nice elbow jumper.  But he also took a fair amount of what I'd call ill-advised shots where we had time to work it around and didn't need to settle.  But I get what you're saying and do agree with you - if he does this and it makes him more comfortable, then I'm all for it, but then again, wins are most important.  I just see him as being so far above everyone else on the court that he should try harder with the drive and dunk.  I still think he's a little clumsy on the dribble drive, but if he can work on this, he'd be lethal.  You get the dribble drive down and then you will have the jump shots.  

Read my entire screen name....

Squirrel Master's picture

Well I don't know about a fair amount of ill-advised shots. He was 4-8 and 2 of those misses were on layups (one he tried to dunk on the center and lost the handle). So really he took 2 3pt shots that he missed. He isn't that great at shooting 3's but he has to keep taking them to get better at it.
I just think that the shooting "problems" everyone is seeing is actually being magnified by 1. Crafts up and down shooting, especially when he decides he wants to shoot alot and, 2. Thomas's inability to get the ball in an opportune place. Thomas is an excellent shooter but he is lazy when it comes to working to get open to get the ball. When he does work hard, we see the potential but then he gets tired. It is a catch 22 with him. And true stronger threats of shooting would help him get open but I don't think its more outside shooters that are needed to do that. Its the post game that helps that. In and out is more suited to a team like this than the "spread" it out with 3's Duke style.
but there has been some poor offensive play overall and really does need work. Last night wasn't that bad offensively because shots were falling, as opposed to the Illini game. If Amir can get established early, it will open up Thomas, then it will make things easier for Craft and Smith, which then opens things up for Sam, Q and others. I have always been a big advocate of establishing the post first to get started. It was a must with Sully and I think it still is a must.

I saw a UFO told me to have a goodyear!

Enzo's picture

Amir has to have the worst hands in the B1G. I've never seen a guy lose the ball from his waist to rim as much as he does.
Lenzelle is a turnover machine. He takes way too many momentum killing shots that seem to always spoil a run. He plays hard on both sides of the court rebounding and guarding, but his streaky shooting and out of control drives to lane hurt this team.
Overall a nice win on the road in a tough arena. I hope they keep it going on Sunday against the skunk weasels.

Optimistic Buckeye Pessimist's picture

Really?  I can't seem to remember Smith doing anything last night other than a few HUGE boards at the end.  I thought Thompson was the one that was taking the bad shots.  

Read my entire screen name....

Enzo's picture

I said he does a great job on the boards and brings great defensive energy, but he missed a lot of forced shots including a wide open layup. He always looks like he's having a seizure driving to rim. Just my opinion.

Optimistic Buckeye Pessimist's picture

Smith has been an enigma to me this year.  I was just curious of your opinion of him from last night, because I don't seem to notice him at all this year.

Read my entire screen name....

Enzo's picture

I seem to only notice him when he's screwing up apparently :)

Squirrel Master's picture

Smith makes his mistakes but he also does alot of great things too. He got some major defensive rebounds late in the game. Even over that freshman center.
If anything, I think Scott makes the mistakes you keep seeing. Scott seems to chuck shots too early, Scott seems to give up a costly turnover at the worst time.
Most of them have their problems. I think we are looking at a really good team that just has to work out these kinks they each have.
Plus, you should know that Amir has improved dramatically with his hands. He couldn't grab a rebound to save his life earlier this year and last. Now he is grabbing them 1 handed and he is also catching the ball when Craft gives it to him at a great spot to make a play. From being a backup off the bench for maybe 5 mins a game, to being the starter who is practically averaging 5 boards and 3 blocks a game is a huge improvement. Plus he is starting to show a real nice low post game that could be nasty by tourney time.

I saw a UFO told me to have a goodyear!

Optimistic Buckeye Pessimist's picture

In my opinion, our low post game is at best, a work in progress.  I completely agree with you that this could be a pretty good team if they can get that worked out but right now, we are going to get killed down there.  Rav and Williams have both shown flashes, but in terms of game to game and possession to possession consistency, there's not much there.  

Read my entire screen name....

Killer nuts's picture

I think as the season moves on this win at Purdue will start to look better and better. I think Purdue will beat a couple teams they're not expected to beat in conference play this year. Always good to get a B1G road win

Buckeyebrowny919's picture

1. We let down our defensive guard at the most inopportune times.
2. How many point under the basket did this Purdue "super offense" really get last night? It seemed like it would never stop.
3. As soon as a defense catches on, DT is literally rendered useless. He had, what, 2 points in the 2nd half and that leads to him trying to throw up shots.
We have several things to fix along with finding more points from other producers so that the defenses can focus less on DT. Good win, but we need to blow out the teams we need to blow out for this teams confidence.

To give anything less than your best, is to sacrifice the gift - Steve Prefontaine

RBuck's picture

I think it was a good move by Matta to start Williams and bring Ravs in off the bench. He plays with a lot more intensity in that role and actually gets more minutes than Amir.

Long live the southend.

acBuckeye's picture

Wow. Aaron Craft finally showed up in this game, albeit for one half. I was getting ready to start calling for Shannon Scott to be the permanent starter.
Tank is amazing...... and amazingly confident.
The block by Slam where the ball was at its apex 2 feet above the rim was clean. Bad call. His dunk was sick.
Amir is still soft.

Buckeyebrowny919's picture

thank you on the amir comment. The dude has the potential to be a physical force down below, but i've never seen someone with such soft hands (the bad kind). The dude cannot hold onto the ball to save his life, even if it is just a little tap on the hand or ball. He needs to sit at home and in class with one of these bad boys..

To give anything less than your best, is to sacrifice the gift - Steve Prefontaine

acBuckeye's picture

Or hit the gym with a barbell and a lot of heavy weight on it.

osubuckeye4life's picture

Good job by the team last night. Now, use this momentum to send TTUN back home with a loss on Sunday.