There were probably three things Ohio State head coach Thad Matta could have wanted from Saturday's game against Coppin State: get hungry, get healthy and get right.
Although the health was more of a mental thing, Saturday's 91-54 victory against Coppin State was probably as good a boost Matta could possibly receive heading into the new year as well as the start of Big Ten play Tuesday night.
The Buckeyes will host the Indiana Hoosiers on Jan. 2, making the 37-point win against the 2-11 Eagles a nice tune-up for a club trying to bounce back from an 86-60 loss to Florida last Saturday.
Ohio State used great balance, placing five players in double-figures, to cruise to an easy win against Coppin State. Coming off 40 point-plus losses to Alabama and Connecticut, the Eagles didn't find life any more satisfying Saturday night in Columbus as freshman Daequan Cook scored a career-high 23 points and Greg Oden added 18 points and grabbed 16 rebounds.
Not a lot went wrong for Ohio State (11-2). The Buckeyes shot 57 percent from the field, turned the ball over just seven times, allowed Coppin State to shoot just 40 percent and forced 14 turnovers. Additionally, the Buckeyes out-rebounded a smaller Coppin State team 40-24.
If there was any glaring downside to Saturday's victory for Ohio State, it was likely the fact Ohio State gave up nine three-pointers to Coppin State.
Still, Ohio State bounced back as reasonably well as can be expected from a humiliating defeat in Gainesville.
* Three-point shooting. Ohio State allowed Coppin State 9-of-22 from three-point range. Ohio State's defense played well for a good portion of most possessions, but several times Ohio State was still a little late locating their man after helping off elsewhere. This is one area that will need to be correct in upcoming Big Ten games over the next few weeks against Illinois and Wisconsin, and especially a major non-conference test coming against Tennesee in mid-January.
* Although the ball movement was generally better on Saturday, Ohio State still did not penetrate as often as they could have. Too many times Coppin State gave up an open baseline that Buckeye shooters completely ignored.
* Along those lines, Ohio State senior Ron Lewis was shutout for the first time during his Ohio State career. Lewis finished 0-of-8 from the field - missing seven three-pointers, most of which were open looks. Lewis had the chances to knock down shots, but he also passed up multiple opportunities to attack a wide-open zone by Coppin State.
* Greg Oden appears to still be feeling his way through double-teams with the brace on his right wrist. The day is coming soon that he'll have more flexibility and better grip with a less-restrictive brace. When that day comes (and for Ohio State's sake, the sooner the better), he will begin responding better in traffic.
* For the first time all season, Ohio State had a positive assist-to-turnover ratio for everyone that played. Only Danny Peters and Matt Terwilliger did not register an assist. Everyone else had more assists than turnovers. The ball-movement was much improved in that capacity.
* Oden attempted, for the first time this season, a free throw attempt with his right hand. He missed the shot, but being a 78 percent free throw shooter last season in high school, once he regains the flexibility to shoot with his right hand, his game will be taken to another level. Reportedly, he's already attempting a lot of free throws in practice with the right, so it's only a matter of weeks - possibly even days before he begins shooting full-time with the right hand at the charity stripe.
* Jamar Butler responded with a much-needed 15 points on five three-pointers. Although Butler still needs to begin being assertive on the offensive end, namely penetrating more often, the 15 points will register big from a confidence standpoint. It's a small step but an important one. Once the confidence returns, perhaps he will begin playing with more aggression.
* The defensive and rebounding intensity was much better - especially in the second half. Ohio State appeared to come off screens much better than they did against Florida. From a surprising standpoint, Coppin State did not draw Oden out of the middle as much as one may have expected from watching film of the Florida massacre. Instead, Coppin State virtually avoided the paint all together.
* Othello Hunter played with a ton of confidence, scoring 16 points and grabbing nine rebounds. Against Florida, he played well early but then wiltered under pressure of a high-caliber opponent. Hunter also dished out a pair of assists.
* David Lighty played as aggressive as he's been in several weeks. The freshman scored 10 points and grabbed three rebounds. He also put the ball on the floor and got to the rim on several occasions - something that's been missing from the Ohio State offense save Cook and Mike Conley.
For Ohio State, this was a confidence-building victory. Indiana will not be an easy game for Ohio State on Tuesday, so Ohio State will need to be hitting on all cylinders.
With Illinois, Wisconsin and Tennessee following Indiana, Ohio State is hitting a key early stretch of their season. Wins the next few weeks could send Ohio State on their way to a Big Ten Championship, and with a 13-3 record or better in the Big Ten, they would still be a possible No. 1 seed. That said, the more important thing is to start playing like the team that was dubbed a National Championship contender.
Given the quality of the opponent, the win is not a big deal. How they earned the victory, however, was much needed.