Going into this, one of the marque match-ups of the B1G/ACC Challenge, I’m not sure we had any kind of idea what kind of team Head Coach Thad Matta is fielding this year at Ohio State.
But in true Matta fashion, they came out strong against Duke, taking the fight and physicality to them in the first half and played a solid game overall.
It was definitely a tale of two halves. The first half saw some solid defense all around from the Buckeyes, with Craft obviously leading the way but with both Shannon Scott and Lenzelle Smith, Jr. playing great defense. The Buckeyes dominated the boards in the first half, pulling down as many rebounds (20) as Duke had shot attempts. Half of Ohio State’s rebounds were of the offensive variety. Ohio State looked the better team and looked to be in control. Things looked promising for Ohio State, maintaining the lead without leading scorer Deshaun Thomas sitting on the bench for an extended period of time.
But, of course, it was all because Duke was playing their fourth game of the week, and they were le tired.
Duke came out in the second half and made numerous mini-runs, getting inspired played from Mason Plumlee and Rashard Salami-man. Ohio State weathered them all and maintained a lead deep into the second half.
Deshaun Thomas came out demanding the ball and made some MAN-sized jumpshots. But ultimately, it wasn’t enough. Duke’s defense picked up and Ryan Kelly’s barrage of threes really distanced Duke in second-half.
Even with the loss, there are a lot of things to be happy about this game. Cameron Indoor Stadium is not an easy place to play in. (The advantages for Duke extend beyond the raucous crowd, getting more than their fair share of calls from referees). They played extended minutes without their best scorer, Thomas and Ohio State proved it can hang with a top five team. This could be a potential future match-up in March and we Buckeye fans should have an exciting season to look forward too.