Skip to content

The key to Ohio State’s season? Finding that third scorer

Nov 18, 2012, 7:36 PM EST

Thad Matta,  LaQuinton Ross, Evan Ravenel

UNCASVILLE, Conn. – When Deshaun Thomas gets into rhythm, there aren’t many players in the country that can score like him. After averaging 15.9 points as a sophomore, Thomas entered Sunday afternoon’s matchup with Washington in the final of the Hall of Fame Tip-Off averaging 22.0 points early on this season. The 6-foot-7 lefty did nothing to dissuade that opinion on him, either, as he hit nine of his first ten shots from the floor, scoring 21 of his 31 points in the first half, adding eight boards and four assists.

Aaron Craft showed off a bit of a refined scoring touch as well. He finished with 18 points, giving Washington fits with his ability to run off of a pick-and-roll while playing his usual brand of lockdown defense and running Ohio State’s offense like the veteran all-american he is; Craft’s stat-line on Sunday was rounded out with four assists, two steals and just a single turnover.

Do the math, and those two combined for 49 points on 17-32 shooting from the floor and 12-13 from the line in No. 4 Ohio State’s 77-66 win over Washington.

The rest of the Buckeyes?

28 points. 10-25 from the floor. 8-13 from the line. That includes 12 points on 4-5 shooting from senior center Evan Ravenel, a performance OSU can’t exactly become reliant; ‘Rav’ averaged a career-high 3.4 points last season and entered Sunday’s game with a grand-total of two points this season.

But Ohio State is going to have to count on those ‘unexpected’ performances this year; regardless of where it comes from, the Buckeyes need a third source of points.

The first two games of the season, it was Lenzelle Smith. Much was expected of the junior guard heading into this season after he put together a couple of explosive scoring performances during the regular season and a very solid NCAA tournament. Smith was pegged as one of the players to see an increase in shot attempts with Jared Sullinger‘s departure, and the 16.5 points he was averaging entering Sunday are evidence that line of thinking proved to be prophetic.

But Smith struggled with his shot on Sunday, finishing 0-5 from the field without scoring a single point.

“I thought Lenzelle played a heckuva basketball game,” Ohio State head coach Thad Matta said after the game, and that’s probably a fair, albeit slightly exaggerated, statement. He had three assists and a couple of steals, he didn’t turn the ball over, he helped keep Washington’s talented perimeter attack in check until the second half. But he didn’t score, and at the end of the day, the winner of a basketball is determined by who scores more points. “He’s been 18 or 15 for us, and he knows he has to do that.”

Matta knows, however, that there are going to be nights where Smith’s shot isn’t falling. And he also knows that Shannon Scott and LaQuinton Ross aren’t exactly ready to be major contributors for this team; and that Sam Thompson, for all that otherworldly athleticism, isn’t much more than an athlete at this point in his career; and that his big men are more adept at taking up space than they are at being even half of the low post threat that Jared Sullinger was.

Perhaps most importantly, however, Matta knows that his team doesn’t need those five to be much more than role players that can consistently do their jobs. But on nights like Sunday, when Smith’s shot isn’t dropping, someone needs to step up.

“[Ravenel] had to do what he did,” Matta said, while also driving home the point that the rest of his bench still performed. “I thought [Ross and Williams] were very effective. Sam Thompson, once he started playing harder and challenging shots, Amir and Q, it’s still relatively new to them. This was a very good test for them.”

“Very excited about the way we played. I told our guys we learned a lot about ourselves in this game.”

Rob Dauster is the editor of the college basketball website Ballin’ is a Habit. You can find him on twitter @robdauster.

Latest Posts
  1. Better shot selection, distribution helps No. 10 Louisville take care of Pittsburgh

    Jan 25, 2015, 7:00 PM EST

    Louisville v Pittsburgh Getty Images

    Eight days after attempting 25 three-pointers in their loss to No. 5 Duke, the Cardinals attempted just 12 and scored 40 points in the paint against Pittsburgh.

  2. Three-pointer with 5.2 seconds remaining completes second-half rally for No. 20 Northern Iowa (VIDEO)

    Jan 25, 2015, 6:24 PM EST

    Northern Iowa v Iowa Northern Iowa v Iowa

    UNI erased a 12-point second half deficit to win at Illinois State, and they remain a game behind No. 14 Wichita State in the Missouri Valley standings.

  3. Chest pains experienced Saturday lead to USF forward missing Sunday’s game

    Jan 25, 2015, 5:38 PM EST

    Chris Perry Chris Perry

    Chris Perry leads the Bulls in rebounding, and chest pains suffered during the team’s workout Saturday resulted in his having to be hospitalized.

  4. Sunday’s Snacks: Coach K makes history, No. 2 Virginia survives in Blacksburg

    Jan 25, 2015, 5:09 PM EST

    Mike Krzyzewski Mike Krzyzewski

    Also of note on Sunday was Ohio State picking up its first RPI Top 50 win of the season.

  5. Coach K earns career win No. 1,000 in No. 5 Duke’s win over St. John’s

    Jan 25, 2015, 4:13 PM EST

    Mike Krzyzewski AP

    Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski picked up career win No. 1,000 as the No. 5 Blue Devils bested St. John’s.

  6. Well-traveled former Ole Miss guard transfers to a new school

    Jan 25, 2015, 2:30 PM EST

    Auburn Mississippi Basketball AP

    Well-traveled former Ole Miss guard Derrick Millinghaus has found a new home.

  7. Kentucky lands commitment from international Class of 2016 big man

    Jan 25, 2015, 1:21 PM EST

    (Basketball New Zealand) (Basketball New Zealand)

    Kentucky is on the board in the 2016 class with a highly-touted big man from New Zealand.

  8. Former Memphis forward is transferring to Rhode Island

    Jan 25, 2015, 1:00 PM EST

    Kuran Iverson, Greg Lewis AP

    A former four-star prospect is heading to Rhode Island.

  9. Former Miami (OH) point guard now a hot name in the 2015 NFL Draft

    Jan 25, 2015, 12:00 PM EST

    Quinten Rollins, Javarez Willis AP

    A former Miami point guard is finding tremendous success on the football field and is a even being talked about as a first-rounder in the 2015 NFL Draft.

  10. Report: Elite 2016 international big man could decide today between Kentucky, Texas and Villanova

    Jan 25, 2015, 10:10 AM EST

    (Basketball New Zealand) (Basketball New Zealand)

    One of the best big men in the 2016 class could decide between three powerhouse programs on Sunday.

  11. Pregame Shootaround: Coach K goes for win 1,000 against St. John’s; 11 ranked teams in action

    Jan 25, 2015, 9:00 AM EST

    Mike Krzyzewski AP

    Coach K goes for win No. 1,000 against St. John’s and a fun battle of elite freshmen guards in the Big Ten are Sunday’s highlights.

  12. Austin Nichols hits a game-winner, Memphis coach Josh Pastner dances (VIDEO)

    Jan 25, 2015, 1:05 AM EST

    Getty Images Getty Images

    I feel comfortable saying I’m a better dancer than Josh Pastner. Not by much, though.

  13. Saturday’s Snacks: No. 18 West Virginia, Georgetown win absolute thrillers

    Jan 24, 2015, 11:58 PM EST

    AP Photo AP Photo

    Get caught up on everything that has happened in college basketball on Saturday.

  14. Northwestern State staff wears special pants for ‘Suits and Sneakers’ game against McNeese State (PHOTO)

    Jan 24, 2015, 11:34 PM EST

    Patrick Netherton Patrick Netherton

    The pants worn by the coaching staff were one of the highlights in Northwestern State’s 92-68 win over McNeese State.

  15. #POSTERIZED: Memphis’ Markel Crawford dunks on Tulane defender (VIDEO)

    Jan 24, 2015, 9:31 PM EST

    Central Florida v Memphis Central Florida v Memphis

    Crawford and his teammates are looking to rebound from the 18-point loss they suffered at Tulsa Wednesday night.

  16. Central Connecticut State beats Wagner on Brandon Peel’s buzzer-beating three (VIDEO)

    Jan 24, 2015, 9:20 PM EST

    CCSU Athletics CCSU Athletics

    Peel finished the game with 17 points, 13 rebounds and five blocks as the Blue Devils picked up their first win in NEC play.

  17. No. 21 Baylor beats No. 19 Oklahoma, should we be concerned about the Sooners?

    Jan 24, 2015, 8:34 PM EST

    Getty Images Getty Images

    Baylor really needed this win, but Oklahoma has now lost three of their last four.

  18. Balanced effort moves William & Mary into tie for first in the CAA (VIDEO)

    Jan 24, 2015, 7:20 PM EST

    William & Mary v North Carolina William & Mary v North Carolina

    The Tribe bounced back from a loss at Delaware earlier in the week to move into a tie for first in the CAA.

  19. Slow start dooms No. 9 Iowa State as they lose at Texas Tech

    Jan 24, 2015, 6:46 PM EST

    cd0ymzcznguwzdbhnduynddiytjhm2yyzthlmtjjotqwyyznpwrjywuxywyyywu3mjy5mddjotbkn2i1nzqynjq3zdhk AP

    Texas Tech hit its first five three-pointers and led by as many as 19 points in the first half of their 78-73 win over the Cyclones.