Some quick Ohio State thoughts:
– I thought OSU looked tight for most of the game. Jared Sullinger (21 points, 16 boards)forced some bad shots, David Lighty made some mistakes and OSU overall just looked a bit rattled.
– Now, part of that is Kentucky. Josh Harrellson made Sullinger work for his 21 points and Ohio State was bothered by the Wildcats’ length. Harrellson was able to play Sully one-on-one and it allowed the rest of the Kentucky players to stay home on Ohio State’s shooters.
– Eight seconds into the game, William Buford missed a jumper. With two seconds left in the game, William Buford missed a jumper. In between, he shot 2-14 (and it’s not like many of those were quality shots). Basically, if you’re searching for a goat, look no further.
– I wish players tried to defend the ball instead of attempting to draw charges. By my count the Buckeyes gave up seven points over the last seven minutes on plays where they attempted to draw charges (Craft gave up 3-pt play to Harrellson, Sullinger picked up a block on Liggins – netting two freebies – and Craft gave up a jumper to Liggins while attempting to draw a charge). We praise guys like Anderson Varejao for making smart defensive plays like that, but Kentucky ended up with three pretty good looks at the hoop with no Ohio State player really altering the shot.
(I caught an early-90s Cavs game on cable a few weeks back and it was weird seeing Larry Nance and Hot Rod Williams go for blocks every play. They were challenging shots. Nance stopped a two-on-one break by simply blocking the dude’s shot. He didn’t just get in the offensive player’s way and hoped the ref would make the right call. It was cool to watch.)
– Hindsight is 20/20, but I would’ve liked to see Thad Motta use a timeout at the end there. Of course, we had just seen Kentucky and Brandon Knight get a good shot in a similar situation… but given that the ball ended up in William Buford’s hands… and he shot it with about 2-3 seconds left… ya… Time out. Set up a play.
– In the same vein, I sure would’ve liked to see Jon Diebler (16 points, 5-10 FG, 4-7 3pt) get a few more touches. Again, you have to credit Darius Miller and the Wildcat defense for locking down the three point line (Kentucky blocked 11 shots and held Ohio State to just 6-16 from downtown) but Ohio State wasn’t exactly calling Diebler’s number very often.
– I’m not sure what to think of Matta. In general, I like the way the Buckeyes play. But he’s forming a reputation as a great recruiter but poor in-game coach. Hard to argue… but I don’t want to sell him short. He’s done a great job at Ohio State and I like having him in charge of the program.
– But maybe he could’ve given his guys a rest here and there. Lighty and Diebler played the whole 40 minutes, Sullinger logged 39, Buford had 37 and Craft got 36 off the bench. I understand that matchups played a role and I certainly get running with your best five, but these guys couldn’t have used a breather? Would it have hurt to let Buford sit for a stretch and gather himself?
– And I really could’ve used a time out at the end.
– But all in all, that was a great game. Sucks to lose, obviously, but you can’t deny that that was a thoroughly entertaining basketball game. It close throughout, it came down to the wire and while Ohio State made some great plays (Diebler’s late trey, Sullinger’s putbacks and rebounds, Lighty’s last basket), Kentucky just made more of ’em (I can’t help but be impressed with Brandon Knight’s game winning jumper). Ohio State certainly had their chances, but Kentucky played great.