Lenzelle Smith Jr. could be the answer to the struggles that the Ohio State Buckeyes have faced offensively in recent games.
Why do they continue to struggle? Well, I tend to lean towards the fact that they lost a great leader and scorer in Deshaun Thomas when he departed for the NBA after last season, and they haven’t yet found someone to fill in the void he left behind. Smith Jr. has the talent and the ability to take on these leadership and scoring roles.
Smith Jr. started the season out well against the Morgan State Bears, and it looked as if the question of who would replace Thomas was answered. He had 18 points and nine rebounds, just one rebound short of a double-double. Since then, he has not been able to score in the double-digits. His highest point total was nine against the Ohio Bobcats. It has gone downhill from there.
That is, until Monday night when the Buckeyes took on the Wyoming Cowboys. The Cowboys kept the game close, but it was because of the performance of Smith Jr. that Ohio State was able to come out with the 65-50 win. If it wasn’t for his 3-point efficiency, the Buckeyes could’ve likely lost to the Cowboys.
Smith Jr. had a season-high 20 points, eight rebounds and made five out of eight 3-point attempts. That’s right, 15 of his 20 points were off of 3-pointers. Let’s hope he can keep this up.
It was like having Thomas back in the Ohio State lineup. Thomas could make a great jump shot or a layup, but he could also rain down the 3-pointers much in the same way Smith Jr. did against the Cowboys on Monday night. It looks like coach Thad Matta may get his wish with Smith Jr. stepping up and filling that void left by Thomas.
That is exactly what the Buckeyes needed and they have to hope it keeps up.