Pokes No Joke, but Bucks Remain Unbeaten

By Mike Young on November 25, 2013 at 8:53p
Lenzelle Smith Jr. finished with 20 for the Buckeyes.

Once again, the Buckeyes entered halftime with a tenuous lead over their unranked, out-of-conference opponent.

Still, they were able to pull away from Wyoming in the second half, winning 65-50.

The Ohio State defense was the culprit, early, allowing the Cowboys to score 24 points in the paint. OSU entered the locker room up, 38-34.

"I told my players Wyoming is a very good basketball team, but we allowed them to shoot 55 percent in the first half," head coach Thad Matta said. "The adjustments we made in the second half resulted in the best defense we are capable of playing.”

Heading into halftime during their last game against American, the Buckeyes led by only five. It took a significant, second half turnaround to pad the lead. Tonight’s game was not much different, in that respect.

Ohio State held Wyoming to 15-percent shooting from the field in the second period, igniting a run to put the game out of reach. In the last ten minutes of the game, the Buckeyes outscored the Cowboys 17-3.

Although the offensive production tailed off, overall, senior point guard Aaron Craft scored all 10 of his points in the second half. Fellow senior guard Lenzelle Smith Jr. added eight of his own in the half, including a dagger three-pointer with 5:56 left. That, on top of a couple fast-break baskets from Craft, put OSU up by double digits.

“It just stemmed from our defense," Craft said. "We started guarding the ball a little better, we had stops and rebounds, and anytime we can do that we make the easy lay-ups. That is what really helps our team.”

Junior center Amir Williams continues his strong start to the season, notching his second double-double. He finished the game with 12 points and 16 rebounds. Half of those boards came on the offensive glass, allowing Williams to convert most of his points. 

"Coach told us there would be a lot of opportunity for us to get offensive rebounds tonight," Williams said. "I just took advantage of what the offensive had and got those tip-ins."

Smith Jr. was the only other Buckeye in double figures, pacing the Buckeyes with 20 points. A lineup with him, Craft, Thompson, Williams and junior guard Shannon Scott played the majority of the second half.

Junior forward LaQuinton Ross struggled again, scoring three points and shooting 1-7 from the field. He played five minutes in the second half, and is now hitting 23 percent of his shots on the season.

The only other OSU players to score more than one field goal were freshman forward Marc Loving, who dropped six points, and Scott, who added seven. Loving did not see the floor in the second half.

Larry Nance Jr. – son of the former NBA player – led the way for Wyoming, scoring 17 points. The junior forward was the only Cowboy in double figures. After being whistled for a loose-ball foul and picking up his fourth personal, Nance Jr. went to the bench. Over the next eight minutes, the Ohio State outscored Wyoming by 12.

"It was really cool coming back home," said Nance Jr., an Akron native. "It was a dream come true playing on this court. I’m proud of our team played tonight and the way we handled ourselves."

The Buckeyes (5-0) will host North Florida, Friday, at 5 p.m.


Comments Show All Comments

Kaceybrown's picture

Just a slow start early on this season, but he'll get going, hopefully sooner rather than later. 

nvbuckeye's picture

Are you kidding me!!!  The expression on his face in the last few minutes of the game said it all.  He sat with his arms folded and leaning back in his seat, too.  While the other guys were cheering and smiling, Ross was thinking about why he didn't turn pro last spring.  If Matta has the guts he will tell Ross to sack up, play like a man or leave.  Right now he is taking up a scholarship that could be used on a recruit that wants to be in Scarlet and Gray.  Just my opinion.  db

southbay's picture

I'm afraid I have to agree, for the most part, except for one thing.  There should not be any "pro" talk around this team, IMO.  None whatsoever.  I don't see anyone playing that well just yet.  
I think Q is quite possibly just frustrated.  If that's all it his then he will heat up soon.  This team needs him.
Where would they be without Amir right now?

BeijingBucks's picture

That's the Q!

None can love freedom heartily, but good men; the rest love not freedom, but license. ~ John Milton

Seattle Linga's picture

He better - Loving had a nice game off the bench - I liked the way Amir played tonight except for some fouls that weren't necessary. 

alust2013's picture

I like to see Amir playing like a man. Seems like he's finally figured out that he's 7 feet tall and a center.

...and Michigan still sucks.

ogama843's picture

Used to love watching Larry Nance when he played for the Cavs back in the late 80's early 90's on the old WUAB channel 43. Those were the days.

Holy Buckeye!

mwbri's picture

Scheduling a team with a decent b-ball history like Wyoming is an improvement over the Savannah States of the last few years. There are things to work on but a good win nonetheless.

nvbuckeye's picture

It is pretty clear that OSU Men will have to win on defense this year (if the officials will let them).  Since the ncaa has taken defense out of the college game to make it more like pro ball, then OSU better find a reliable scorer or it could be a long, long season.  Again, just my opinion.  db

CentralFloridaBuckeye's picture

Just glad to see the Bucks got the win.  As more games go on they will start to gel even better.  It is still very early in the season so they are getting a feel for the roles they have to play. 
Go Bucks!!

route4buckeye's picture

Good win. I read on here that LaQuintin isn't fully healthy. That may be why he isn't performing to the level we were expecting him to.
- Aaron Craft & Lenzelle Smith played like seniors when we were down 42-39. Never looked back.
- Amir Williams is coming into his own. He's going to have a big year. A lot more patient underneath. His foul shooting has improved immensely. Get it big man!
- Marc Loving is going to be a star. Reminds me of Deshuan in a way.
Go Bucks

Squirrel Master's picture

remember the days when Amir couldnt stay on the court longer than five minutes?
yeah, anyone wants to complain about him now needs to wait a bit. he has changed so much. more active, not hesitating as much.
sam should start. sit Ross. i say Loving can fill in offense, but i think Sam is needed at the start for his all around ability. bring Loving on as 6th, Ross after that. attitude adjustment or there are players who can do better than what he is providing now.

I saw a UFO once.......it told me to have a goodyear!

TheShookster's picture

It's weird to say that a 15 point win over Wyoming was a step in the right direction, but it was. I'm happy with the win!

He ain't even stretch doe!!

RBuck's picture

I'm beginning to think that maybe Q should start coming off the bench. He pretty much excelled at that the 2nd half of last season.

Long live the southend.

Buckeye Scottie's picture

That Wyoming team was athletic.  I think I heard JJ or the other dude say they were picked 10th in their league?  Or did I dream that?  I don't see any way that team finishes 10th in their own conference.
OSU needs some shooters to step up.  Lenzelle was hitting last night, but his shot doesn't lend itself to consistency, with no lift from his legs, and no arc on his shot.  Rock Me Amedeo is the only shooter on the team, but he is a bit of a one-trick pony.
Until Scott, Craft & Ross & Slam become consistent knocking down jumpers, not even good, just consistent, this team is going to struggle to score and HAVE to win with defense.