Bring on Duke!
Thad Matta after the win over UMKC
No. 3 Ohio State had its final tune-up before Wednesday’s showdown at No. 5 Duke as the Buckeyes defeated Missouri-Kansas City 91-45 before 17,748 Friday night at Value City Arena.
The Buckeyes (4-0) flexed their muscles by getting out to a 36-point first-half lead over the visiting Kangaroos and never looked back in posting the extremely easy win. OSU led by as many as 48 in the second half.
Afterwards, OSU coach Thad Matta was asked if this was good preparation for Duke.
“Yeah, I think so,” Matta said. “I was excited to see our guys play from start to finish. We didn’t want Kansas City to ever be comfortable on offense because they run their offense extremely well. We wanted to be as disruptive as we possibly could. I thought our guys did that.”
Deshaun Thomas led the Buckeyes (4-0) with 21 points and eight rebounds. Thomas was 6 of 8 from the field, including 2 of 3 on threes, and hit all seven of his free throws.
“We knew we had another gear in us,” Thomas said. “When we got up big, we kept our foot on the gas. We kept playing hard as a team and it showed.”
Lenzelle Smith Jr. added 13 points and six assists. LaQuinton Ross and Sam Thompson each had 11 points. Shannon Scott had his first career double-double with 10 points and 10 assists.
“I could not be happier for Shannon in terms of him letting go and getting into the flow and having a sixth sense of what he needs to bring,” Matta said. “He took his talents and put them to use on each end of the floor.”
Shannon Scott and Deshaun Thomas after the win over UMKC
Scott, a sophomore, may be earning more time playing alongside starting point guard Aaron Craft in the backcourt.
“I think the biggest thing is that I’ve calmed down a lot from last year,” Scott said. “At times last year I got anxious. But now I am letting the game come to me.”
Evan Ravenel scored eight, while Craft and Amir Williams each had six points. Craft also had six assists, while Williams also had four blocked shots on defense.
Estan Tyler and Thomas Staton each had seven points to lead UMKC (2-3), which shot a dismal 25.5 percent (14 of 55) from the floor. The Kangaroos were 1 of 15 on three-pointers. UMKC had 18 turnovers and also had 10 of its shots blocked by the Buckeyes.
The Buckeyes led 53-18 at halftime as they connected on 67.9 percent of their shots (19 of 28), including 6 of 9 on threes. Meanwhile, the OSU defense harassed UMKC into 12 first-half turnovers and held the Roos to 23.1 percent shooting (6 of 26). Thomas had 15 of his points in the first half for OSU.
OSU enjoyed leads of 8-1, 20-3 and 31-10 as it built its early lead. Smith had a layup off a Craft offensive rebound to start it. Thomas then had a nice spin move to score and also had a layup off a Ravenel pass. Ravenel then had a layup off a Craft feed to make it 8-1.
The Buckeyes then went in increments of threes as Smith canned a three from the left wing off a Craft assist on an inbounds play. Craft followed with a steal, layup and free throw for a three-point play. Thomas then cranked a three from the top and Smith added another triple from the left corner off a Thomas pass. That spree of 12 straight points made it 20-3 with 13:00 left in the first half.
LaQuinton Ross hit a three off a Shannon Scott feed, Scott hit a driving layup, Scott threw an alley oop to Amir Williams and Craft tallied off a lob as the lead went to 31-10 with 7:30 left in the half.
Aaron Craft drives against UMKC
Thomas hit a three and also had three free throws to push the lead to 38-16 with 4:22 left in the half.
The Buckeyes then turned up their defense. Scott had a steal and fed Ravenel for a jam. Ravenel then tipped a pass to Scott, who returned it to Ravenel for a jam. Thomas hit a pair of free throws.
Freshman guard Amedeo Della Valle hit a three off the right wing off a Craft assist. That made it 49-16 with 1:35 left in the half. Scott then completed a three-point play as the Buckeyes eventually led 53-18 – a 35-point halftime lead – at the break.
After seeing his team coast in some earlier wins, Matta was glad to see the team maintain their defensive poise and effort throughout that half.
“Our guys were doing what they were supposed to do,” Matta said. “I think that is one of the big challenges for this team. Hopefully, we will continue to embrace humility and understand that we are not close to being a finished product. Tonight was probably a good step in the right direction.”
The OSU lead went to 41 on a jumper by Sam Thompson that made it 63-22 with 16:34 left in the game.
Smith canned a three off a Scott assist to make it 44 at 72-28 with 13:31 left.
Scott hit a trey off a Thompson assist for a 45-point lead at 80-35 with 6:52 left. The lead went to 47 moments later when Thompson made a pair of free throws for an 82-35 lead.
Thompson canned a three in transition off a Scott assist to push the lead to 48 at 87-39 with 4:19 left.
Thompson had a wicked one-handed jam with 22 seconds left for a 91-43 lead.
* OSU football coach Urban Meyer and his team made an appearance at VCA in advance of Saturday’s game against Michigan at Ohio Stadium. Click here for video of their appearance at the Schott.
* Thomas is now seven points shy of reaching the 1,000-point plateau in his OSU career.
* Della Valle had played one minute in the win over Rhode Island last Saturday. He got to play 19 minutes against UMKC. In addition to his first made three, he also had five rebounds and took a charge on defense.
“Amedeo was rolling (in practice) before he had the ankle sprain,” Matta said. “He missed about a week-and-a-half. But he is such a good kid and he works extremely hard. This is all new to him as the only freshman on the team. He’s a great teammate and he is going to be a great player here.”
* Ross reached double figures for the second time in four games. He had 10 points in the opener against Albany. Matta hopes he can continue to provide some scoring punch off the bench.
“With LaQuinton, he has to continue to build daily habits with the fundamentals,” Matta said. “He has to get things he is really good at and continue to expand on them. He has to work on his weaknesses and get better.”
* Smith was scoreless against Washington last Sunday, missing all five of his shot attempts. He came out hot against UMKC, scoring eight of OSU’s first 20 points. He reached double figures for the third time this year.
“Lenzelle is playing great basketball right now for us,” Matta said. “He is shooting the ball well. The two threes he had were huge and helped us extend the lead in the first half.”
* Against nonconference opponents, Matta’s OSU teams are a combined 112-20 in his nine years. His teams are also a combined 43-5 in November and 186-21 against unranked opponents. Over the last three years, OSU is 56-1 against unranked opponents with the lone loss at Illinois last January (79-74).
* Ohio State and the Kangaroos of UMKC met for the first time in the men's basketball. Ohio State has a 6-0 record vs. members of the Summit League. The Buckeyes own wins against Indiana University Purdue University-Indianapolis (1-0), Oakland (2-0) and South Dakota 2-0).
* The Buckeyes visit Duke (4-0 going into an Atlantis tournament game with VCU tonight) on Wednesday as part of the ACC/Big Ten Challenge. The game, set for Cameron Indoor Stadium, will tip off at 9:30 p.m. and will be televised nationally by ESPN.
OSU pasted Duke 85-63 last year as part of the ACC/Big Ten event on Nov. 29, 2011, in Columbus.
Asked if his team is ready for Duke, Matta said, “I will probably find out on Wednesday night. That will be a great road test for this basketball team. From the standpoint of going into that type of environment, it will be very beneficial for us in the long run. They are obviously playing at a high level right now.”
Thomas had a big game last year against Duke and relishes the chance to play the Blue Devils again.
“It’s going to be a great experience,” he said. “Their fans are wild. It is a crazy environment. I’m looking forward to it.”
* Click here for the box score of OSU-UMKC.