Ohio State Buckeyes Vs VCU Rams: The How And The Why


The Ohio State Buckeyes met the VCU Rams in the round of 64 on Thursday evening. The Buckeyes didn’t have a great showing in the Big Ten Tournament, but a good run here could make us forget that.

How It Happened

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Ohio State wasn’t prepared to handle VCU’s pressure on defense. They found themselves down by 12 halfway through the first half.

The Buckeyes were able to turn it around and went into the break only down by only 1. The game was back and forth from then on out.

Neither team could create separation on the scoreboard. Jae’Sean Tate and Sam Thompson found themselves in foul trouble meaning Keita Bates-Diop and Amir Williams had to step up big down the stretch, and they did. VCU had the last possession of regulation and a chance to win, but they weren’t able to get the bucket.

Overtime proved to be just as exciting as the second half. Bates-Diop hit a huge 3 to give the Buckeyes the advantage halfway through overtime. D’Angelo Russell was able to carry the Buckeyes to the finish, and sealed the game at the line. Ohio State advanced to the round of 32 after a 75-72 win over VCU, and will face Arizona on Saturday.

Why It Happened

Amir Williams came to play.

We’ve all been hard on Williams this season, but he came to play on Thursday. He was able to exploit VCU’s lack of size on both ends of the floor. Williams finished with 13 huge points on 4 of 5 shooting. He was the anchor of the 2-3 zone, and made it hard for the Rams to get anything in the paint.

The senior scored Ohio State’s final 4 points of regulation, including the game tying basket that took it to overtime. I loved the heart and the hustle he showed us. Let’s hope he can carry that into the game Saturday.

Keita Bates-Diop isn’t afraid to take and make big shots.

The freshman only had 6 points on 2 shots, but it was the times he made the shots that mattered. Bates-Diop made a huge 3 with under 4 minutes in regulation to give the Buckeyes the lead. He then was able to give the Buckeyes their first lead of overtime after he hit a clutch 3 with just 2 and a half minutes to play.

Those two shots swung the momentum back in the Buckeyes favor. They wouldn’t have been able to win without them. Bates-Diop showed that he can deliver in high pressure situations like this.

Ohio State was able to match VCU’s pressure on defense.

The Buckeyes elected to go with a 2-3 zone partway through the first half. Ohio State started the year playing primarily a zone, but they got out of it once they started to get burned by good shooting teams.

They didn’t have the pressure to stay in front of VCU on defense, but they were able to contain them with the zone. The defense forced the Rams to shoot only 38% from the floor.

The defense is what won the game for the Buckeyes. They were able to force turnovers and get out in transition. The Buckeyes simply didn’t have the personnel to match up with VCU in a man, but they could do it in the zone.

You have to give credit to Thad Matta for making all the right calls on defense. He did a great job of switching from man, to zone, and even a press. For once you can say Matta outcoached a good coach like Shocka Smart in the tournament. You could tell Smart and his players weren’t prepared to face that kind of defense.

D’Angelo Russell is super-human.

Russell willed the Buckeyes to victory against VCU. He finished with 28 points and was 4 of 7 from behind the 3 point line. He was the only reason Ohio State was even in this one.

He made up his mind that he wasn’t going to let his team get knocked out of the tournament yet, even if he had blood streaming down his face.

Russell showed that he has the ability to will his team to victory. The Buckeyes are a tough team when he’s on top of his game. Let’s hope he can keep this going.


Ohio State showed resiliency against VCU. They also proved how good they can be when all they are on the top of their game. Arizona is going to be a tough team to beat, but you never know what could happen this time of the year. You always have a chance to win when D’Angelo Russell is on your team.

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