John Beilein, the head coach at M*chigan, jumped on the Brady Hoke bandwagon and referred to his team’s rival school as “Ohio” yesterday. Despite his attempt to follow in his chubby colleague’s shoes, Beilein simply came across as an idiot. Hoke, we all remember, at least made good on his jab at OSU by defeating the football Buckeyes this past November. Beilein, on the other hand, continued his “Ohio” comments after losing to OSU by 15 points.
So, you think, Beilein must have some sort of upper hand on Ohio State to feel confident enough to make those comments, right? Absolutely not, the UM coach is 2-8 against the Buckeyes, including 6 consecutive losses to the scarlet and gray ballers. But enough about an awful coach and a team whose only good player is from Columbus, OHIO; it’s time to talk about the Bucks. (Also, please don’t try to tell me that Tim Hardaway, Jr. is a good player. If he were a Buckeye, he would currently be 10th on the team in FG%)
Despite the 15 point margin, this wasn’t exactly the dominating performance that I had hoped for from the Buckeyes, but it was certainly good enough for the win. M*chigan was not completely out of the game until the end, and yet they were rarely a threat to come back for most of the second half. Outside of the rivalry, this was a fairly boring game, but OSU’s defense and rebounding proved to be the difference maker…well, that and Lenzelle Smith, Jr.
LSJR earned himself a double-double by finishing with 17 points and an astounding 12 rebounds for this #3 man. He was constantly moving on the offensive side of the ball, and was the most aggressive that I have ever seen him on the glass, grabbing 8 offensive rebounds in the contest. OSU outrebounded the Wolverines by 15, more than doubling them on offensive boards, and LSJR alone had as many rebounds as M*chigan’s Morgan, Douglass, Burke and Novak combined.
Sullinger was quiet, performance-wise, until about midway through the second half when he began to get into a rhythm. He was vocal, however, in voicing his frustrations early on in the game and was looking for foul calls that never came. Once he began to relax and make better shot choices, he was able to get to 13 points on the night. Deshaun Thomas was cold behind the arc, as were the rest of his teammates (3-15 from 3-point range as a team), but managed to put up 12 points and grab 5 rebounds. He also had possibly the most confusing play of the night, when he flopped (Anderson Varejao style) when appearing to be elbowed by Evan Smotrycz. The replays, on the other hand, seemed to show a swing and a miss. Confusing matters even more was the bloody lip that Thomas was sporting not long after the play.
William Buford, unfortunately, had another less than impressive showing, as he put up the same numbers as Thomas (on 4 less shots from the field) but also accounted for 60% of the Buckeyes’ turnovers in the game. At this point in the season, he is putting up his worst numbers in 3PT% since his freshman year, and his lowest ever in FG%. On top of that, his turnovers have increased to 2.2 per game, which is easily his highest average as a Buckeye. In short, our number 2 guy needs to find a groove in the next 2 months (and hopefully into a 3rd).
The matchup of the night centered on the point guards from each team, as the defensive expert, Aaron Craft, took on the freshman phenom, and Columbus native, Trey Burke. Burke, though effective offensively, was held under his average in points and rebounds. Craft’s high-energy, in-your-face defense also forced Burke to his second highest total in turnovers (5) for the year. Somehow Trey Burke was still able to shoot the ball extremely well, as he ended the game 5-11 from the field and 3-6 from long range. Craft’s offensive numbers, as usual, were low, but he was 3-4 from the field and was efficient in protecting the basketball and breaking through any press attempts that the Wolverines attempted.
OSU’s schedule gets tougher from here, including a trip to the Kohl Center in Madison to face Bo “The Grinch” Ryan and the Badgers on Saturday. The Buckeyes have just 4 remaining home games, will be on the road for 5, and John Beilein will have a couple of weeks to think of another way to embarrass himself against Thad Matta, since the two teams meet again in Ann Arbor on February 18th.
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