Cleaning The Glass: Minnesota Road Edition

Another game, another win for No. 1 Ohio State. This time, the Buckeyes cruised to a big road win in on a Minnesota court that has been less-than-friendly in recent years. BuckeyeSports.com men's basketball beat writer Adam Jardy offers his take on the win in this edition of "Cleaning The Glass."

I think … that for the first time in a while, the play of Dallas Lauderdale should have Ohio State fans feeling better about their chances come tournament time.

In a surprisingly easy road victory against Minnesota, the senior forward finished with 10 points – all in the second half. They all came as a by-product of simply being on the court at the same time as freshman Jared Sullinger, who obviously was the focal point of the Golden Gophers' defensive focus.

So while it was not like Lauderdale was creating his own shot or breaking down defenders with silky smooth moves, he showed that there are consequences when a big lineup attempts to double Sullinger. As the freshman got the ball and the other big man guarding Lauderdale had to sag off to help in the paint, the senior found himself in position for easy baskets.

Not surprisingly, Sullinger found his teammate for two such baskets and they were immediately converted into dunks.

This is not to say that Lauderdale is a better player than the freshman or that he merits taking more playing time away from Sullinger. Let's call a spade a spade here: Sullinger is the best post player in the Big Ten and he needs to be on the court as much as humanly possible.

But I do not think it was a coincidence that Sullinger's offense started flowing once Minnesota learned it could not leave Lauderdale untended.

I think … that if there is a negative in the win it was the atrocious performance from the free-throw line.

It is not often that a team can go on the road and win decisively by going 10 for 20 from the charity stripe, but the Buckeyes found a way. Those numbers improved in the final moments, and the overall performance there certainly did not feel as high as 50 percent.

Afterward, assistant coach Brandon Miller said the coaches are working on the team's woes from the stripe. He pointed out that when OSU needed to connect from the line down the stretch against Illinois, the team was able to come up with the necessary points.

Sullinger was 2 for 8 and missed his first five attempts after struggling in his previous outing against Michigan. The big fella can obviously knock them down, and afterward he told reporters that it became a mental issue with him as his free-throw attempts stopped falling.

I'll side with his track record entering the last game, but you know NCAA opponents are going to have such streaks in the backs of their minds when drawing up plans to try and stop the freshman.

I think … that although Lauderdale had his first noticeable impact in weeks, the player of the game is unquestionably David Lighty.

The fifth-year senior showed how dangerous of a player he can be in this contest. Minnesota had no answers for him offensively as he slashed to the basket on possession after possession. Defensively, he frustrated the Gophers all afternoon long and helped prevent them from enjoying any appreciable post advantage when Sullinger and Lauderdale were not on the court together.

I was one of those critical of his play Thursday against the Wolverines but he redeemed himself in a big way. Lighty is a truly special player who has a huge impact on what this team is able to do on both ends of the court.

Here's a question I'm sure how to answer: who would you least like to see land in foul trouble in an NCAA Tournament game, Sullinger or Lighty?

Also, credit to William Buford. The guy continues to grow more comfortable with hitting big shots to stop the other team from gaining momentum. He will still force one or two a game, but the junior's confidence appears to be growing on a game-by-game basis lately.

I think … that one of the most surprising stat lines in this game came from freshman Aaron Craft, who was largely ineffective for one of the first times in his young career.

In 21 minutes, the point guard finished with five points, four assists, three turnovers and five fouls. I still have no idea how he fouled out of the game, but you have to credit OSU's guard for handling the pressure and carrying on without the freshman.

Not his best performance of the season, but assuredly one he can learn from.

I think … that this needs to be mentioned. In 10 minutes of action, Deshaun Thomas had 11 shot attempts.

I know several of those came on one crazy possession where I lost track of how many attempts the Buckeyes got, but what else can you say? The kid likes to shoot.


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