Look at the statistics. The Buckeyes shot 63.0 percent from the floor, just shy of their season-high total. They assisted on 22 of 34 baskets, had four starters in double figures and turned 17 Minnesota turnovers into 24 points. Heck, they even held a 28-22 edge in rebounding.
Minnesota was never in this one. The Buckeyes scored first and never gave up the lead, although the Gophers tied it three times. As the game went on, you could see the frustration on the faces of the visitors when the realization hit them that it simply was not going to be their night.
There were plenty of reasons for that. This is an entirely different OSU team from the one the Gophers defeated a few weeks ago with a healthy Evan Turner back in the lineup, and the length that he brings on defense can give opponents fits. Offensively, he is the reason why Jon Diebler was able to bounce back with a big performance.
It just seemed like the Buckeyes were always where they were supposed to be on the court in this game. At time, Minnesota had to wonder if OSU was allowed to suit up six players at once.
The Gophers were able to get some looks in the first half because, as OSU head coach Thad Matta put it, the home team did not correctly rotate at all times on the defensive end. In my mind, that is a coach finding things to nitpick because that is what he has to do. With a decisive win like this at the midpoint of the Big Ten schedule, you have to be pleased with the total package here.
I think … that although I tie a lot of Diebler's performance to Turner's re-emergence, I draw no such parallel with William Buford. In this game, the sophomore created his own offense on a number of occasions. I feel the looks he was getting would likely have been there even if Turner was not in the lineup.
The Toledo native is finding his teammates with the ball and is learning to be a more complete player. I saw him dive at a bounce pass that he had no hopes of catching because he knew he could deflect it out of bounds. That's a big play for a guy like Buford.
Plus, he looks like he is starting to really enjoy getting his teammates involved. Winning is the bottom line in all cases, and the fact that the Buckeyes are putting it together has to be making him feel like a better player.
I like where his game is right now, and I think that bodes well for the rest of the season.
I think … that some kudos are due to Diebler after my comments about him in the last "Cleaning The Glass." The junior proved what kind of player he can be within a system with his performance against the Gophers – 5 of 9 from behind the arc for 19 points.
When teams are not keying specifically on Diebler, he is able to be a huge addition to the offense. When they are, the key is for him to limit mistakes and take advantage of the few opportunities he is going to get.
A game like this has to be a shot in the arm for his confidence and for the team as a whole. When this offensive machine is clicking, I truly believe that the Buckeyes can compete with anyone in the nation.
A Big Ten title might be out of reach, but a Sweet 16 berth is certainly not.