Tonight Ohio State’s men’s basketball team passed a tough early-season test, and did so in impressive fashion. The Buckeyes carved up the Florida Gators in the second half and won going away, 93-75.
The first half was entertaining. Ohio State played well on offense but was soft on defense, and Florida took advantage. It seemed like every Florida player made a hook shot from the low post, and Florida ended the half ahead 41-38. The second half was a different story, and the story started on defense. Ohio State pressured the ball and stepped out on Florida players all over the court. The Buckeyes forced some turnovers, and then put on a clinic on offense. Jared Sullinger and David Lighty sliced up the Gators down low, and William Buford, Jon Diebler, and Aaron Craft knocked down open shots. In all, Ohio State scored 55 points — 55 points! — in the second half and notched a very memorable win.
What can we take from this early season game? I wouldn’t draw too many definitive conclusions, but some things seems clear. First, Jared Sullinger is good. He doesn’t play like a freshman, and his presence will help Jon Diebler and William Buford get more open shots. He seems to have the full package of low-post moves and displays a nice, soft shot. Second, David Lighty had improved tremendously during his collegiate career, and he is just a fun player to watch. He hustles, he plays great defense, and he is fearless taking the ball to the rack. Third, Aaron Craft doesn’t seem to play like a freshman, either. Florida threw a variety of presses and traps at him, and he handled them well. Get this — Craft played 29 minutes bringing the ball up against a pressing defense in a hostile arena in his first away game as a college student, and he committed only three turnovers.
If the Florida game is any indication, Ohio State’s inside-outside game will pose some real challenges for its opponents. But the season is young, so we shouldn’t get carried away. In the meantime, we’ll just enjoy the sweet taste of some fresh Gator meat.