Creating offense from defense might be the mantra for the Ohio State men’s basketball team this season.
The Buckeyes defeated American University Wednesday, 63-52, despite shooting a woeful 25.9 percent from the field in the first half. OSU forced 27 turnovers, however, which led to 26 points for the team.
Junior center Amir Williams led the way for OSU (4-0, 0-0), scoring a career-high 16 points and grabbing seven rebounds.
Williams credited his offseason work to his big game, which saw him make hook shots with both his hands.
“I just been working my tail off in the offseason and during practice as well,” Williams said after the game. “Just try to have some go-to moves in the post and its looking like its finally starting to come alive. I’m starting to feel a lot more confident.”
The Buckeyes led 28-23 at the half because of a coast-to-coast lay up by senior guard Aaron Craft at the buzzer.
OSU coach Thad Matta said his team missed a lot of shots it normally makes, but that wasn’t the only reason for the poor shooting.
“We weren’t on target, on time (with) a couple of the passes,” Matta said following the win. “Those are kind of the little things. Great shooting teams are great passing teams and we’ve always been pretty good at that. We just weren’t delivering.”
OSU junior guard Shannon Scott got the second half started off on the right foot for OSU, stealing the inbounds pass and making a lay up just three seconds in.
“I think I caught the guard off guard honestly,” Scott said after the win. “He didn’t see me coming, so I snuck in there.”
OSU extended its lead to 10 points after Williams scored with 16:20 left in the action, but the Buckeyes were unable to put the Eagles away, which was the case for the entire game.
“We were slow to balls, our transition, especially in the first half, we were running on top of each other,” Matta said. “We didn’t have spacing, we were bobbling passes. We just didn’t have it at the level we needed to have it.”
Despite being able to get to the basket when they wanted to, finishing was a different story for the Buckeyes.
“That was just a lack of focus on our part,” Scott said. “We knew they were going to be there when we got to the basket, we just gotta really focus and get the ball on the backboard where it needs to be and make those lay ups and those shots.”
Matta said OSU experienced “a little déjà vu” at halftime from Saturday’s 52-35 victory against Marquette, because the Buckeyes had 13 shots in the paint they were unable to convert on.
“We knew we could keep playing the way we played against Marquette in the second half,” Scott said, who finished with 13 points and nine rebounds. “We gotta keep our A game defensively wise and make sure we get into the other team as much as we can.”
Junior forward Sam Thompson missed the front-end of the one-and-one on consecutive possessions down the stretch, but Craft nailed two late to help seal the win. OSU made 20 of 29 from the free throw line, while American was 6 of 7.
Sophomore guard Jesse Reed finished with 15 points for the Eagles (1-2, 0-0). Senior center Tony Wroblicky added 14.
Junior forward LaQuinton Ross’ early season struggles continued, as he finished 1-7 from the field, only scoring four points. Matta said he’s “a little puzzled” by the way Ross has performed to start the season.
“Q’s a great basketball player. We need him to play well,” Matta said. “(But) you’ve gotta respect the game, you’ve gotta respect opponents. You can’t make the same mistake over and over again without saying, ‘Wait a minute. This isn’t working. Let me try something different …’ He can play great basketball, he’s going to play great basketball and hopefully sooner than later.”
The Buckeyes look to get their shooting problems corrected before the next game, which is slated for Monday against Wyoming at 7 p.m. at the Schottenstein Center.