To say they exceeded those hopes was an understatement. After again falling behind early, the Buckeyes mounted a surge to take the lead – although this one came a lot sooner than it did against Miami, when I had written most of my game story at halftime.
Two ranked teams away from home in four days? OSU beat one ranked team away from home all season last year, and that was against an over-ranked Syracuse team during the NIT Season Tip-Off.
It's still early, but this team could play up to some pretty lofty potential before all is said and done.
I think … I enjoy watching this year's team about 100 times more than I enjoyed watching it one year ago. There's plenty to like this time around: solid defense, Evan Turner and Dallas Lauderdale for starters.
I'm not going to go overboard and start believing Lauderdale's preseason prediction that the Buckeyes will go undefeated this season, but I am starting to appreciate the confidence with which this team carries into every game. These guys honestly believe they can win every time they step on the court.
To say that last season's team did not is an understatement. You just knew that team was going to find a way to not get the job done during the stretch and would be left looking for answers. This year's team has won three straight games in which the Buckeyes were tested in the final minutes of the game. Still, they did not waver and they got through the challenges wiser, more experienced and – perhaps most important – undefeated.
I think … I'm going to go ahead and give a lot of the credit to Turner. He's gotten plenty of help from his teammates and particularly his classmates, but Turner is the spark that makes this OSU engine go.
He was all over the court against the Fighting Irish, and he is the biggest reason the Buckeyes won that game. He can simply create with the ball in his hands, and you can feel his confidence growing on a day-by-day basis.
Turner still turned the ball over a little more than I'd like to see (six turnovers against five assists against Notre Dame), but his growth into becoming a more explosive and consistent scorer has been impressive.
I think … the statistics sheet says that the Buckeyes out-rebounded the Fighting Irish. I had to blink and pinch myself before I let myself believe that. Wow.
I think … B.J. Mullens is starting to show some of that potential we've heard so much about, and that is a fun process to observe. He's still got a ways to go and looks slow at times on both ends of the court, but he's starting to show the potential that very well could make him a top pick in next year's NBA Draft.
I think … William Buford gets the unsung hero award for the Notre Dame victory. Fresh off a performance where he had a season-high 20 points, sophomore Jon Diebler picked up his second foul just 4:05 into the game and retreated to the bench for the rest of the half.
When he returned, he never really got untracked and finished with two points after missing all five of his three-point attempts and going just 1 for 7 from the floor overall.
Where did Diebler's missing production come from? Buford, who had nine first-half points in 16 minutes of action and did not look the least bit fazed by the environment. Two possessions after entering the game, Buford hit a jumper for just OSU's second basket of the game at the 14:42 mark.
He had the team's next basket, this one a three-pointer, to make it a one-point game. Buford still forces some shots and occasionally looks lost on defense, but his contributions in the first half helped the Buckeyes weather their early-game struggles and allowed them to be in position to come back for the win.