|#5 Ohio State 7-0, 0-0 Big Ten Roster | Schedule||December 7, 2013 4:30 PM ET - BTN —— The Schott Columbus, OH||Central Connecticut 2-5, 0-0 northeast Roster | Schedule|
The fix was simple enough. After a nightmarish start to an anticipated season for LaQuinton Ross, the Ohio State forward took a giant deep breath and relaxed. In the past two games, he’s making nearly 60 percent of his shots while scoring 37 points. That comes after seven points in a horrendous three-game stretch.
But the Ross that burst onto the national scene in the NCAA Tournament appears to have returned. More than anything, Ross’ early season battles have been psychological. Lofty expectations were tossed his way and when they weren’t being met, the emotional toll kept building.
When shooters miss shot after shot, eventually confidence becomes an issue. That goes both ways, however. When the ball starts going through the net, they fee unstoppable.
“I think he has slowed things down in his mind,” head coach Thad Matta said. “The look on his face, it’s just a little bit different.”
Those comments were made in the aftermath of his 20-point output against Maryland. Ross made his first four shots from the field – all three-pointers – and recorded 17 points in the first half. After being benched multiple times in the first month of the season, Ross isn’t likely to find his way there in the near future.
“He’s communicating in practice that he wants to be coached,” Matta said “That’s a sign of a good player, a kid who cares, which we know he does.”
|4||A. Craft||SR||6-2/195||11.1||3.6||5.4||G||11||M. McMillan||JR||6-0/180||9.0||2.7||3.3|
|3||S. Scott||JR||6-1/185||9.9||4.3||3.9||G||1||K. Vinales||JR||6-1/180||19.3||1.3||2.2|
|32||L. Smith Jr.||SR||6-4/210||11.4||5.0||1.4||G||25||M. Hunter||SR||6-5/190||9.3||6.3||1.0|
|10||L. Ross||JR||6-8/220||9.7||5.1||0.6||F||34||B. Peel||SO||6-7/200||3.6||4.1||0.3|
|23||A. Williams||JR||6-11/250||10.4||7.3||0.4||C||22||F. Drakeford||JR||6-7/215||10.9||6.1||0.9|
Central Connecticut State enters Saturday’s day coming off a win over New Hampshire. The Blue Devils had four players finish in double figures despite shooting 36 percent from the field and making just two 3s. Similar to Ohio State, Central Connecticut used defense to its advantage, coming up with 10 steals and forcing 17 New Hampshire turnovers.
Forwards Faronte Drakeford and Juwan Newmen are combining to score 16 points and grab 10 rebounds per game. Guard Kyle Vinales is what makes the offense churn out points. He’s achieving lofty numbers in several categories – 19 points per game and 13 assists and eight steals on the season. Vinales set the program’s single-season record last year with 649 points.
Point guard Malcom McMillian has 23 assists and 12 turnovers, while fellow guard Matt Hunter has recorded 38 rebounds, 15 steals and nine blocks in six games.
In both wins this season, the Blue Devils were a combined 45-of-59 from the free throw line. Central Connecticut made its final 10 free throws against New Hampshire, a nine-point win.
Steals, blocks and forcing missed shots have not been an issue for the Ohio State defense. As the football team’s unit languishes, the basketball team’s defense thrives. But there is one area that could use improvement – rebounding.
In Wednesday night’s humbling of Maryland, the Buckeyes were outrebounded by a wide 44-30 margin. With that, came more points in the paint for the Terrapins and almost 20 second-chance points. In two games against major conference foes, Ohio State has been outrebounded by 30.
“We know that we’re going to get stops defensively, we know we’re going to force teams to turn it over, but we cannot get outrebounded the way that we did,” Sam Thompson said. “If we want to take the next step as a basketball team, we have to rebound the ball. All five guys have to rebound. No matter what we’re doing defensively, we have to rebound the ball.”
Incredibly, though, despite the numbers, Ohio State’s defense held Marquette and Maryland to very low offensive numbers. The Eagles scored 35 points, its worst offensive showing in years, while the Terps had their worst shooting night of the season. Both teams combined to make less than 30 percent of their shots.
“If we’re going to defend at the level that we’re capable of defending, the finished product is rebounding,” Matta said.
- Ohio State is 2-0 all-time vs. Central Connecticut State. The last meeting came in the first round of the 2007 NCAA Tournament.
- Aaron Craft ranks second on the all-time Ohio State assist list with 568, 12 shy of passing Jamar Buter for No. 1.
- Sam Thompson Effect: Ohio State's bench has outscored opposing benches 155-67 this season.