Kam Williams stays ready.
Anyone who has watched the shooting guard in his two seasons at Ohio State knows he’s not afraid to shoot. If anything, he’s too eager. So it should have come as no surprise when the sophomore – scoreless to that point on 0-of-5 shooting – took a jumper with 8:08 remaining in the Buckeyes game against Iowa.
Williams hit that shot, one that pulled the Buckeyes within three of No. 8 Iowa and came after he rebounded his own missed three, and closed the game going 5-of-6. He scored all 11 of his points in the final 8:08 and seven in the final 3:50 in part of a 10-0 run that gave the Buckeyes a lead they wouldn’t surrender in a 68-64 win.
“Well every time I get the ball and I shoot I feel like it’s’ going to go in,” Williams said after the win. “I just know with the guys that I have around me I always have to stay ready because we have a lot of weapons so I know when the ball comes my way just be ready no matter what position I get it in. Just be ready to be in attack mode, be ready to score, be ready to make a play for somebody else. So I think the mentality is just stay in attack mode and believe that nobody on the court can stay in front of you or can guard you.”
It’s that type of mentality that makes Williams such a valuable bench player, a true gunner with the bullets to back it up, and a fan favorite.
Head coach Thad Matta actually approached Williams a few weeks ago about entering the starting lineup, but the sophomore was content with his role, one that has earned him the same nickname of former Detroit Piston Vinnie Johnson.
“We call him the microwave,’ Marc Loving said. “He come off the bench and he just gets hot real quick. He doesn’t need a lot of space, so he can definitely fill it up in a heartbeat.”
He filled it up in the final 3:50 Sunday, a whirlwind performance the guard has become known for and one the Buckeyes desperately needed.
Lyle’s Inconsistencies Continue
If one player best encapsulates the Buckeyes up and down season it might by JaQuan Lyle. The freshman point guard has played spectacular at times as he’s registered a triple-double and his season-high of 29 points is better than any other Ohio State player this season.
Against Iowa it was a bit of both.
Lyle didn’t score, missing all six of his shot attempts and not getting to the free-throw line, but had five assists and five rebounds. His biggest moment came with Ohio State down four. The point guard drove down the baseline and kicked the ball out to Loving for a huge three. He also assisted a Williams three with 42 seconds remaining, Ohio State’s final field goal of the night, which gave the Buckeyes a four-point lead.
“JaQuan is a very, very talented basketball player, he can affect the game in a variety of ways,” Williams said. “If he’s not scoring you know he’s distributing for others and that’s what we need out of him, to step up in multiple facets of the basketball game.”
Still, Lyle needs to more consistently contribute points for this team to be at its best, just another piece of growth needed from this young Ohio State roster.
The win over Iowa was undeniably big – it was Ohio State’s second win over a ranked team and first since December and just its second win over a team with a winning record in conference play. But the Buckeyes still have a long way to go for an at-large NCAA Tournament bid.
The Hawkeyes entered the game against Ohio State having lost three of four games, including one to lowly Penn State, and the defeat in Columbus was Iowa’s third straight. Iowa will likely be at the tail end of the AP poll when it is released later today.
Still, it was a win over a top-50 RPI team for the Buckeyes, but that brings their record to just 2-7 in such games. Ohio State is 4-9 against top-100 teams with one of the wins coming against No. 98 Penn State. Worse yet, the Buckeyes have two losses to teams outside the top-100 in Louisiana Tech (123) and Memphis (162) while one of the team’s losses is to No. 100 UT-Arlington.
Ohio State’s road record of 4-5 is also rather damaging. The Buckeyes aren’t in the latest brackets from either ESPN or CBS.
Clearly the Buckeyes have plenty of work left to do.