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Health issues clearing up for Ohio State as season approaches

Nov 3, 2013, 11:25 PM EST

LaQuinton Ross, Lucas Strouble AP

With Deshaun Thomas gone from last season’s Elite Eight team, the Ohio State Buckeyes have a question to answer as they approach the start of the 2013-14 campaign: how will they account for the 19.8 points per game that Thomas provided? If their 93-63 exhibition victory over Walsh University offered any insight when it comes to the answer to that question, it could be that Thad Matta’s team will rely on offensive balance.

Five players scored in double figures on Sunday, with Lenzelle Smith Jr. and LaQuinton Ross scoring 15 points apiece to lead the way. Add in a solid effort on the glass both as a team (52 rebounds with 23 being of the offensive variety) and individually from center Amir Williams (ten rebounds) and freshman forward Marc Loving (nine rebounds), and overall Ohio State did what it needed to do. If there’s one concern it would be their 18 turnovers, but the Buckeyes made up for that by forcing 23 Walsh turnovers.

Ross’ performance was key for another reason: according to Matta Sunday was the first time in about a week that the junior’s right (shooting) hand was out of a cast.

Matta said he did not know what caused the injury, and Ross was not made available to the media.

“Something in his right hand on the top,” Matta said. “There was nothing on the MRI, just some inflammation, and it’s obviously gone down. I thought he looked pretty decent offensively today, but it’s been kind of a challenging week for him.”

Ross shot 4-for-9 from the field (making his lone three-point attempt) and 6-for-10 from the foul line in the win. Also of note according to Bob Baptist of the Columbus Dispatch is the fact that freshman Kameron Williams, who was sidelined for about a month due to a case of mononucleosis, is expected to return to practice this week.

“He’s missed a lot,” Matta said of Williams according to the Dispatch. “It’s hard to miss a month of practice, but (he’s a) great kid. It’ll just take some time.”

Guards Aaron Craft (14 points, five assists on Sunday) and Shannon Scott (nine points, seven rebounds) saw the most playing time of the nine Buckeyes to see action against Walsh, playing 28 and 26 minutes respectively. With those two, Smith Jr., Sam Thompson (12 points, four rebounds) and sophomore Amedeo Della Valle (13 points) all part of the equation on the perimeter it’ll be interesting to see if Williams can earn a few minutes once he catches up.

Ohio State opens their season on Saturday against Morgan State, and they’ll host Ohio (November 12) before visiting Big East preseason favorite Marquette on November 16.