Granted, UNC Asheville and Oakland are far from world-beaters, but it was still interesting to see how the Buckeyes would perform while playing their second game in three nights. It was the first quick turnaround for a team with six freshman and the potential for a letdown was there.
Instead, OSU seized control after the Grizzlies cut the deficit to four points with a few minutes left in the first half. Faced with their first stiff challenge of the night, the Buckeyes ignited. Even more impressive, they came out with fire to start the second half. If you have been paying any attention this season, you would know that has largely been a rarity.
Oakland is a solid team that has played a tough schedule to this point. For the Buckeyes to put forth such a solid performance bodes well for the future.
I think … that we have to give Dallas Lauderdale a lot of credit for his recent play.
The senior forward has taken his share of criticism – and deservedly so – for his play during parts of the season. This marks the second game that Lauderdale has played bigger than his statistics to this point have reflected.
He remains one of the most fearsome faces to face in the paint and he proved that with his shot-blocking performance Thursday night. It is fitting that Lauderdale will go down as one of the most prolific shot blockers in OSU history because the big man has an impressive ability to time the ball and sent it flying.
Plus, Lauderdale manned up on Oakland's Keith Benson and kept the big man in check. His play on the defensive end was crucial in keeping the Grizzlies from ever really feeling comfortable in this one.
In addition, Lauderdale continues to show that he is an improving talent on the offensive end. I've seen him hit jumpers in practice, and we are seeing more and more post moves as the season has gone on.
Kudos to Lauderdale for seeing a challenge for playing time in the formidable form of Sullinger and elevating his game.
I think … that after determining that Smith was the ninth man off the bench, I was again reminded of how little that actually means on this team.
Although Oakland cut it to four points in the final minutes of the first half, there was not really a sense of upset brewing in Value City Arena. The Buckeyes then removed all theatrics with their run to open the second half, burying their opponents by turning things up defensively and connecting like crazy on the offensive end.
I was surprised that it took so long to get some of the subs into action. I realize that the older guys have earned the right to be out there and I have no problems with them getting theirs, but I figured this would be a good chance for J.D. Weatherspoon, Lenzelle Smith and Jordan Sibert to see some action against a quality mid-major opponent.
I almost feel like Sibert has taken a step backward in the eyes of the coaches recently. I expected him to see more action than this and it simply has not happened. Still, I like his upside and think he can be a solid eighth man for the Buckeyes as the season wears on.
I think … that I hope you all have a fantastic Christmas and I look forward to continuing the season with you all next week.