Daniel Chi / Asst. photo editor
Ohio State men’s basketball coach Thad Matta said scoring 75 points against Savannah State was the “battle cry” for his team.
Perhaps he should have set the bar a tad higher.
The Buckeyes shot 47.5 percent from the floor and drained 10-of-19 3-point attempts, as OSU cruised to an 85-45 victory against Tigers on Wednesday at the Schottenstein Center.
The offensive barrage came against a stingy Savannah State defense that entered the contest allowing an average of 53 points. No team had scored more than 62 points against the Tigers (5-5), but No. 7-ranked OSU (7-1) scored its 63rd point midway through the second half.
“We said, ‘hey, can we get 75 (points) on this team?,'” Matta said. “I thought that was a legitimate request by what they had done to this point in the season.”
The Buckeyes were led on offense by Deshaun Thomas, who scored a game-high 22 points. The junior forward took 17 shots to get there, 15 of which came in the first half. No other Buckeye attempted more than four shots in the first twenty minutes of action.
Nonetheless, Matta said that he was comfortable with Thomas’ shot selection.
“I thought he took great shots and really had a rhythm about him in the shots he was taking,” Matta said. “That was good for us.”
In the second half the shot distribution evened out, and four players reached double figures. This included senior center Evan Ravenel, who chipped in with 11 points and a career-high 9 rebounds.
The Buckeyes have received sporadic production from the center position this season, especially on the offensive end. Ravenel’s near-double-double was his most complete performance of the season, which bodes well for a Buckeye team that could likely use more a more consistent low-post scoring punch.
It’s likely unwise to think that Ravenel will transform into a big time scorer for the Buckeyes, but he showed that he can put it in the hoop from time to time. More importantly, Ravenel played with energy that he admittedly lacked in recent weeks.
“When I play with energy I get output like I got today,” Ravenel said. “It’s not always going to be perfect, but when I play hard, play with energy, good things happen.”
“It helps this team a lot,” Thomas said. “When Evan plays his role (as an energizer) that ignites our team.”
Defensively, Ravenel and OSU’s other big men – sophomores Trey McDonald and Amir Williams – did well defending the paint, against a team lead by a low-post player.
So far this season opponents have aggressively attacked OSU’s big men, and Savannah State (5-5) continued that trend. But the Buckeyes held senior forward Rashad Hassan, Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference preseason player of the year, to nine points on 4-12 shooting.
With the win, the Buckeyes improve to 7-1 on the season. OSU returns to action on Saturday against UNC-Asheville in Columbus. Opening tip is scheduled for noon.