Ohio State 89, Long Beach State 55: Plenty in reserve
Buckeyes’ bench shoulders load, contributing 37 points in romp
Shannon Scott had nine assists and one turnover against Long Beach State.
First, the only scorer Ohio State has been able to count on lately, Deshaun Thomas, missed eight of his first 11 shots.
Next, foul trouble found starting center Evan Ravenel and his replacement, Amir Williams, and they gave up two quick scores inside.
Finally, guard Aaron Craft stuck his nose where it didn’t belong one too many times and suffered a gash above his right eye that would need 10 stitches to close.
In recent years, that hat trick might have created a dilemma for coach Thad Matta, who had a difficult time looking beyond the first sub on his bench.
Not this season, apparently.
“Coach Matta told us from the beginning of the year that he wasn’t going to do like he did in the past,” sophomore LaQuinton Ross said. “This year, he told us there was going to be a lot of in and out.”
So there has been, and the Buckeyes’ depth overwhelmed Long Beach State in an 89-55 victory yesterday at Value City Arena.
Thomas heated up in the second half and led seventh-ranked Ohio State (6-1) with 18 points, but it was the reserves who produced a season-high 37 points. Ross had 16 points, nine rebounds and four assists. Shannon Scott had nine assists and one turnover. And seldom-used Trey McDonald contributed some needed post defense during a first-half run in which the Buckeyes began putting distance between themselves and the 49ers.
In the past four games, the bench is averaging 29.8 points, Ross is averaging 14.5 points and 6.3 rebounds, and Scott’s assist-turnover differential is 28-3.
“We’re going to see a lot of situations … (where the starters) are going to be in foul trouble at some point during the season,” guard Lenzelle Smith Jr. said. “But when you’ve got guys who have had opportunities to get in and play and make an impact so that they’re comfortable … we don’t lose a step. We can change at all positions, and we have a lot of guys on this team who are capable of making plays. When you’ve got confidence that that can happen, we can be a scary team.”
Smith added 14 points and nine rebounds for Ohio State, which got at least one field goal from all 11 players who got onto the floor.
Center Dan Jennings had 16 points and eight rebounds to lead Long Beach State (3-6), which was playing its second road game in 41 hours. The 49ers lost at Syracuse 84-53 on Thursday night before busing to Columbus on Friday.
Coach Dan Monson, a former Minnesota coach, said playing one of the nation’s toughest nonconference schedules and not having three transfers who won’t become eligible until later this month reduced his team’s small margin for error against a team the caliber of the Buckeyes.
“Early in the game, we just couldn’t get settled down offensively and take advantage,” he said. “We played pretty good defense and were able to rebound early, but once they got comfortable, we were done.”
Ohio State missed six of its first eight shots and led by only three points before Thomas’ only three-pointer of the first half started a 9-0 run. The Buckeyes led 39-25 at halftime and buried the 49ers with a 19-5 run in the first five minutes of the second half.
Matta put McDonald, a 6-foot-8 sophomore, into the game with 12:40 left in the first half after Long Beach State had some success targeting Ravenel and Williams inside. McDonald closed the hole, and the Buckeyes increased their lead from three to eight in his four minutes on the floor.
“He came in and just did what he was supposed to do, and he did it with great energy,” Matta said.
“Those guys (inside) have got to play with fire. The last four games, (opponents) have just gone at us in the post. We’ve got to do a better job of (defending) that.”