Last night the Ohio State Buckeyes were relegated to sixth place in the Big 10 with a 59-56 loss to the Michigan State Spartans. The Spartans, long considered a great defensive program under Tom Izzo, showed the nation that the Buckeyes are a one dimensional team. Deshaun Thomas is that one dimension and he will need some teammates to step up and help balance the scoring load if his team is going to be contenders in the Big 10 and in March.
Besides Thomas the Buckeyes have only one other player averaging double digit points on the season; Lenzelle Smith Jr. with 10.1 points per game. That stat is fool’s gold because in his last four games versus Big 10 opponents Smith has scored eight, two, four, and six points despite getting over 26 minutes in each of those games. That’s not going to help coach Thad Matta win a conference title.
How about the great and amazing Aaron Craft? Overrated. In over 30 minutes a game this season he is averaging 8.7 points per game on under 40% shooting from the floor. Side note…his over hyped defense is netting 1.9 steals per game, which basically evens out his 1.6 turnovers per game. Last night, against far better athletes, he was willing to chip in five points on 2-8 shooting and giving the Spartans four extra possessions. Doubt he got a “Thank you” for that effort from Thomas after the game.
After the “second” option it only seems to get worse. Matta will need to make some serious changes to how his team is running offense if they are truly going to be contenders, let alone continue to be ranked in the Top 25. The Buckeyes will need to improve their ball movement in order to involve more players offensively, Craft will need to dribble a lot less and Smith will need to be more mentally and physically tough on the offensive end of the floor. Right now too much is falling on Thomas and if there isn’t more offensive balance going forward the Buckeyes are going to continue to fall.