Ohio State opened the season today against Morgan State in front of a solid crowd at the Schott. The Buckeyes jumped on the Bears early taking an 11-2 lead, and never looked back in route to an 89-50 victory behind a balanced attack. Lenzelle Smith Jr. led the way with 18 points and 9 boards and connected on 7 of 11 shot attempts. Shannon Scott had an impressive afternoon as well, and finished with 16 points and 7 assists while making 4 of 7 attempts from behind the arc. Scott appears to have added a new dimension to his game with a much improved jumper.
The starting five for the Buckeyes included Aaron Craft, Shannon Scott, Lenzelle Smith Jr., LaQuinton Ross, and Amir Williams. Sam Thompson is a returning starter for the Buckeyes, but has been the first man off the bench in the exhibition and today’s opener. Thompson provided a nice spark today while chipping in 14 points, and figures to be one of the better bench players in the country moving forward. The other double digit scorers for Ohio State were LaQuinton Ross with 14 points and Marc Loving with 10 points. Loving looked comfortable in his freshman debut and with his versatility he will be a key player for the Buckeyes off the bench this season.
A staple of Thad Matta teams during his tenure in Columbus has been defense. The defense is expected to be a big strength of this years team, and they didn’t disappoint today. Ohio State held Morgan State to 31% shooting from the field and an impressive 16% from behind the arc. They also forced 12 turnovers and limited open shot opportunities for the Bears. Aaron Craft and Shannon Scott pestered the Morgan State guards all game and will provide the Buckeyes with arguably the best defensive backcourt in the nation.
Overall, Ohio State was impressive in the victory today but is far from a finished product. Turnovers were an issue, and outside of Lenzelle Smith Jr. and Shannon Scott, the team didn’t shoot the ball all that well. The Buckeyes settled for outside jumpers a little to often and could have done a better job of attacking the basket. Despite these issues, there is clearly a lot for fans to be excited about moving forward. This team is experienced and has great veteran leadership with Aaron Craft and Lenzelle Smith Jr. Shannon Scott looks to be much improved and is poised for a breakout season. LaQuinton Ross and Sam Thompson have the potential to be stars, and Marc Loving and Amedeo Della Valle will provide solid depth. The pieces are there for this Buckeyes team, now it is about getting those pieces to come together. Next up for the Buckeyes is a home game against the Ohio Bobcats on Tuesday at 8 P.M. on the Big Ten Network.