The statistics say it all. At one end of the court, Craft goes off for a career-high 19 points, dishes out seven helpers and commits just one turnover. At the other, he helps limit Battle to 15 points thanks to a 1-for-10 performance from three-point range.
I was sitting next to a writer who covers Penn State, and it was not even into the second half when he said Craft was clearly frustrating the senior. Granted, Battle still got some of his, but what two-time all-Big Ten player would not?
Craft has fully arrived. He can no longer fly under the radar and teams will no longer be leaving him wide open for three-point attempts. When he is on the floor along with Jared Sullinger, William Buford, David Lighty and Jon Diebler, there is no weakest link. This is a powerful, complete team with a formidable fivesome.
What arguably impresses me the most about Craft's play is how far along his offensive game is. I know that I unfavorably compared him to Michael Conley Jr. several games ago in a column, but that freshman could not hold a candle to this freshman's ability to shoot the rock.
Craft can get inside when he wants to but is mostly content with letting his teammates get into the action. Then he can also hit from deep, something Conley definitely struggled with during his OSU career.
Both are great point guards who could play for any team in the country. The exciting thing about Craft is that he figures to be around for more than one year.
It keeps being said, but I can not find any reasons not to start Craft in place of senior Dallas Lauderdale unless head coach Thad Matta is concerned about losing the big man entirely.
I think … that senior guard Jon Diebler continues to show why Matta uses him more than any other player on the roster.
Although the program's all-time leader in three-pointers obviously does one thing very well for the Buckeyes, he is able to affect the game in a number of other ways as well. Against the Nittany Lions, it was on the defensive end.
Diebler came up with a game-high four steals – more than the entire PSU roster. He was aggressive on both ends, driving the basket with mixed results but contributing a number of hustle plays. This after hyperextending his left elbow in the previous game and playing with some stabilizing wrap on the joint.
He is not leading the team in minutes played by luck. Great all-around effort from Diebler.
I think … that it is no longer funny that Deshaun Thomas thinks he is in range as soon as he crosses half court.
The freshman knows how to fill the basket. We all get that. You don't score as many points as he did in high school without learning how to finish. But what he still does not seem to understand is that he is not the only option when he is on the court like he was last year.
Thomas' stat line against the Nittany Lions: 0 for 3 from the field, 1 for 2 from the free-throw line, seven minutes played. Of those three shots, just one came in the flow of the offense.
On one possession, he caught the ball on the left baseline, put his head down and immediately drove the hoop. His attempt hit the side of the backboard, showing that he had absolutely no idea where he was on the court.
After scoring 20 points in the massacre of Tennessee-Martin, Thomas has scored 21 points in five Big Ten games while playing himself further down Matta's bench. He needs to learn not to pull the trigger with blind disregard for his teammates for the Buckeyes will be down to a six-man rotation that relies heavily upon Lauderdale.
Come tournament time, I expect your key reserves to be Thomas and Lauderdale. Right now, that is a scary thought.
Might we see the return of the "Iron Five" of last season?
I think … that to end this one on a positive note, you have to give credit for the Buckeyes finding another way to win.
Is it concerning that they keep blowing double-digit second-half leads and have to make plays down the stretch to hang on? Sure, but not as concerning as it will be if this is still happening one month from now.
At 18-0 and about to be named the top team in the nation, it is a good time to be a fan of the Buckeyes.