“Tonight my butt’s sore.” ~ Mike Krzyzewski
Yep, that’s an actual quote from Mike Krzyzewski, the all-time winningest coach in Division I college basketball. I swear I am not making that up.
When asked about the blowout loss, in the post-game press conference, Krzyzewski said, “I’ve had my butt kicked before. We’ve kicked some butt. Tonight my butt’s sore.”
I’m not sure if Sir Mix-A-Lot was playing in the locker room or why Duke’s coach became obsessed with butts after the game, but his usage of the word in summary of the game was remarkable. In a 23 word recap, Krzyzewski used the word 4 times (17%), which was only slightly worse than Duke’s 3-point percentage on the night (3 for 15, 20%).
In truth, there probably weren’t too many ways to sum up the game in a positive light for the Blue Devils. Coach K gave a couple of lame excuses, namely, “They were a fresher team. I thought our team played tired.” An honest statement, with a hint of whining found in there. Duke had just recently participated in the Maui Invitational, in which it played and defeated the Tennessee Volunteers, M*chigan Wolverines, and Kansas Jayhawks. A tough stretch for sure, but the last game (against Kansas) was on November 23rd, giving them 6 days in between contests to become “fresh.”
Moving on to the true focus of last night’s game; The Ohio State Buckeyes played their “butts” off, and completely dominated this game from start to finish. OSU had 4 players score in double figures (Sullinger 21, Buford 20, Thomas 18, Craft 17) in points, and when comparing the shooting percentages of both teams, it’s easy to see why the game went the way it did.
FG% – 59.3% 3PT% – 57.1% FT% – 70%
FG% – 47.3% 3PT% – 20% FT% – 57.1%
Ohio State was better than, or at worst tied with, Duke in every statistical category that you’ll see in a box score, and Thad Matta’s team defense played a major role in that. As usual, Aaron Craft was all over the court on defense, holding his men to 2 of 8 shooting for 4 points. On top of that, his offensive push and consistency, and even a few good, deep shots (and 1 ridiculous bank), helped keep the scoreboard changing all night. Sullinger and Buford were themselves, putting up a combined 41 points and shooting better than 50% from the field.
Perhaps the best sight for Buckeye fans was Deshaun Thomas’s solid minutes on the court. He is a streaky player, but is beginning to show that he can harness his energy and give this team an offensive boost unlike the other scorers on the court. Thomas’s shots come in all different distances and efforts, but he is becoming the scoring wiz that he was recruited to be, while also adding some athleticism and rebounding ability on defense. He’s also not shy about his talents, as his grinning “I was the X factor” comment showed after the game.
Although he had an injury scare near the end of the game, Lenzelle Smith Jr. also showed that he has earned his role on this starting lineup. Sure, Austin Rivers put up 22 points, many of which were against Smith, but when he was the only player on Duke’s roster that was able to create some room and force shots, I’ll take it. Smith hit his only shot from the field on the night, and was the one to set the defensive tone from the start by forcing a timeout to be called on Duke’s very first possession.
All in all, this was a great game for the Buckeyes, and hopefully one to build off of, not look back on as a highlight. Buckeye Nation is fully on board this season for its basketball team, and we all know that the regular season is important, but will be forgotten once March arrives. OSU will have big tests in the next couple of weeks, away from the Schott, as it travels to Kansas and South Carolina for games.
Great game. Great energy. Keep it up, Bucks!