The junior guard has not quite lived up to expectations throughout the season and it was fair to wonder whether or not his confidence might have been rattled a little bit. Although all of his statistics were slightly better than they had been the previous season, Buford had not put together many dominating performances so far this year.
Then he came out against a hopelessly overmatched Tennessee-Martin team and looked as in sync as he has all season. Buford's jumper looked effortless and he had the best touch I have seen from him all season.
Ordinarily, a performance against such a lesser foe might not mean much but this situation is different. Big Ten play kicks off Friday evening on the road against Indiana and suddenly conference play is upon us.
Things are obviously going to get tougher for an OSU squad that has largely been untested to this point. Even though the opponents have not been high quality, they have served one key purpose: they have given some of these players a dose of confidence.
In this game, no one gained more confidence than Buford. The value of having a dominating performance with Big Ten play looming is immeasurable.
I think … that unfortunately for him, the same can not be said for freshman Jordan Sibert.
With the game rapidly getting out of hand in the first half, Sibert was afforded some significant minutes in the early going. Although he got his hands on a few passes and was able to display his length on the defensive end, Sibert continued to misfire from the floor and missed a handful of must-haves from near the basket.
Sibert can assuredly gain a measure of confidence from the way he defended the basketball, but missing easy shots near the basket can start to get inside the head of a player.
If he wants to really carve out a role as the team's eighth man, he needs to start converting from near the basket.
I think … that although the Buckeyes have breezed through most of this non-conference schedule, they will benefit from the fact that they have played a number of different styles of attack from those teams.
While the level of competition was not to where the Buckeyes will have to play this season in the Big Ten, they have at least seen a number of different looks already.
That might pay dividends not only in conference play but in the postseason as well.
As Smith attempts to find a role on this year's team, it will only benefit him to prove that he can play more than one position. As a prep star, Smith was not exclusively a point guard but arrived at OSU as one of the candidates to replace Evan Turner at that spot.
It is pretty obvious that he does not factor into that position this season. If he can suit up at other spots, Smith stands a slightly better chance of playing this season.