INDIANAPOLIS — Visibly spent and with ice bags on his knees, Shannon Scott released a deep breath in the Ohio State locker room.
After returning from the postgame interview room at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Scott took a moment to think about his efforts in OSU’s 72-69 loss to Michigan (25-7, 17-3) in the Big Ten Semifinals.
Scott tied a career-high after pouring in 18 points in the loss, dished out six assists, grabbed five rebounds and also swiped three steals against the Wolverines. His 10 first half points were the highest of any player in the game at that time, and kept the boat the Buckeyes were teetering on from sinking with the barrage of 3-pointers Michigan was making.
“Shannon was tremendous. I thought his shot preparation and what he was doing was huge,” OSU coach Thad Matta said after the loss. “He got us back in the basketball game.”
The first two games of the Big Ten Tournament — both Buckeye wins against Purdue and Nebraska — were performances Scott would probably like to forget, as he totaled only 11 points and turned the ball over seven times.
That wasn’t the case Saturday however, and Scott said he credited his performance to staying in attack mode.
“Just staying aggressive the whole time. I know our team needed scoring at the time I came into the game, so I put that in the back of my head and tried to stay with it,” Scott said after the game.
That he did, scoring seven quick points after being inserted into the lineup with his team down 15-3 to help keep it within striking distance.
“Shannon stepped up, made some big shots. He came out of the gate banging some big shots, that was crucial for us,” senior guard Lenzelle Smith Jr. said off Scott after the loss. “Obviously we needed that offensive kick. Hopefully he can keep it up because we’re going to need it down the stretch.”
Although OSU (25-9, 12-9) fell to its rival — and in the process missed out on playing in the conference tournament championship game for a sixth year in a row — getting Scott to provide offense is a positive, senior guard Aaron Craft said.
“That’s what he was doing at the beginning of the year,” Craft said, referring to how Scott averaged 11 points in the first month of the season. “When he does that we’re a much better team. I think it takes some pressure off other guys too. Just let’s everyone kind of relax when you see another guy being aggressive out there. It takes pressure off them.”
Having Scott produce on the offensive end is just an added bonus to what he already does defensively, Matta said.
“Conversely on the defensive end he was creating some havoc down there,” Matta said. “I was really happy to see him play at that level.”
Unfortunately for Scott, he and his Buckeye teammates will be sitting at home come Selection Sunday for the first time in their careers, instead of staying at the Big Ten Tournament after playing in the title game.
OSU isn’t likely to receive a No. 1 or No. 2 seed like it has since each player on the roster has been in Columbus, but that shouldn’t matter.
“We know we’re not going to have a great seed, but we have to be ready to play against anybody,” Scott said. “It’s win or go home now.”
With each game being an elimination one from here on out, any help that LaQuinton Ross can get from his teammates offensively is welcomed. Just ask the junior forward.
“Shannon stepped up amazingly tonight, especially when we were down early and led that comeback,” Ross said in the locker room after the loss. “Like I told y’all before, once all these guys are pitching in, we’re a hard team to beat.”
The Buckeyes are set to learn their NCAA Tournament opponent tomorrow during the Selection Show, scheduled to start at 6 p.m.
Regardless of who that is, Scott coming off the bench to provide a little extra will be vital going forward.
“Hopefully he can keep making those shots, and with him playing the type of defense he plays he just becomes a big help for this team,” Smith Jr. said.
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