Buckeyes Poach Gators..Finally

By Chris Lauderback on December 23, 2007 at 10:50 am
koufosbutler.jpgButler attempts toughness-tranfer via osmosis

The basketball Buckeyes ended a painful 2 game losing streak against the Gators posting a 62-49 blowout victory yesterday in front of a bloodthirsty 19,000+ in The Schott.

As expected, the fanbase had revenge on its mind following the bad memories created last January and April. While I personally don't understand how revenge was exacted, the crowd was at its passionate best in what was a very meaningful game for Matta's young but maturing squad.

It didn't look good early as Florida exploited the baseline, aka the soft spot of the Buckeye zone, for some easy buckets while the Buckeyes were busy missing 8 of their first 9 shots creating a 9-2 deficit at the 14:35 mark. Then, for the second straight game, David Lighty stepped up in the first half to help jump start the Buckeye offense.

Lighty worked a nice give and go with Matt Terwilliger leading to an old fashioned 3 point play before hitting a jumper on the next possesion to cut the lead to 9-7. His inspired play served as the launching point of a 30-13 Buckeye blitzkrieg turning the 9-2 deficit into a 32-22 halftime lead.

Lighty scored all 11 of his points (4/6 FG) in the first half while Jamar Butler and Jon Diebler offered support bagging two threes apiece. Butler's 2nd three of the half gave the Bucks a 32-19 lead with :39 to go but Kosta Koufos once again showed his softness letting Nick Calethes strip him of a rebound and record a put back off a Jai Lucas free throw attempt with :05 left shrinking the lead to 10 at intermission.

Koufos' mistake aside, the Buckeye D was relentless in the opening stanza forcing Florida into 1/10 shooting from downtown while holding the Gators to just 1 FG in the last 9 minutes. The second half proved more of the same as OSU limited Florida to 3/13 from behind the arc with constant pressure on the Florida guards. Unable to generate offense, Florida couldn't cut the lead to under 10 points.

Looking to rebound from a lackluster first half (5 pts, 2/7 FG), Koufos finally got in gear with 12 second half points. The big fella did his damage from the perimeter showing off his smooth stroke hitting jumpers from the top of the key while toughening up defensively on his way to a game high 10 rebounds. I know it seems like I'm hating on the guy, but he better become more willing and able to bang down low or he will continue to fade in and out of games once the conference season begins. As Billy Donovan noted, none of the "big shots" were hit by Koufos, they were hit by the experienced guys like Butler, Lightly, Othello Hunter and Matt Terwilliger.

And how 'bout Terwilliger yesterday? He officially earned his last name back (for now) with a rugged 7 point, 5 rebound, 2 assist and 1 block performance that I still can't believe happened. To his credit, he stepped up defensively in the first half due to Hunter's foul trouble and he scored 5 straight points in the second half including a 3 pointer pushing OSU's lead back to 13 at the 12:59 mark. Terwilliger's effort combined with those of Diebler and Dallas Lauderdale combined to give OSU 15 points and 11 rebounds off the bench.

As for the rest of the starters, Butler shot just 4/12 but again ran the show effectively with 13 points, 5 assists and 4 rebounds to support Koufos' double double (17, 12) and Lighty's noted 11 points to go along with 4 assists and 3 boards. Hunter played just 15 minutes due to foul trouble and was a non-factor with 2 points and 2 boards. Freshman Evan Turner (4pt, 4 reb) also saw limited action due to foul trouble and Diebler's effectiveness.

Defensively, the Buckeyes held Florida to just 17% from deep (4/23) as the swarming 3-2 matchup zone combined with the 3/4 court trapping press to take the legs out form under the Gator shooters in addition to forcing 13 turnovers. OSU also won the battle on the boards (34-33).

The victory pushed OSU's win streak to 4 with one game to go before the Big Ten opener. It's been a little rocky, but the 9-3 non-conference record looks pretty good considering the amount of talent turnover from April to now. What do you think..You satisfied with where this team's at?