Normally, it’s going to be the defense of the Ohio State Buckeyes that wins games for them this season, especially under the leadership of senior guard Aaron Craft.
The Buckeyes have been known more for their defense early in the 2013-14 season, mostly because of the loss of their biggest offensive weapon, Deshaun Thomas, who left for the NBA after last season. Offensively, they had some big questions as they began the season and until recently, it did not seem as if they would have anyone who could step up and fill the scoring void left by Thomas.
With Craft at the helm, the Ohio State defense ranks third in the nation in points allowed at 54.3 per game and are sixth in the nation in defensive field goal percentage at 35.9 percent. They lead the Big Ten in both of these areas. Perhaps their best defensive performance came on the road in their win over the then-No. 17 Marquette Golden Eagles, when they allowed Marquette just 35 points. Another great performance came just this past Wednesday night in their win over the Maryland Terrapins in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge.
The Ohio State defense looked completely different on Saturday afternoon in their 74-56 win over the Central Connecticut State Blue Devils. Not to say they were bad by any means, but the performance of the offense seemed to stand out more so than the defense. Ohio State had three players (LaQuinton Ross, Lenzelle Smith Jr. and Amir Williams) who scored in double figures and also led the offense to a 50-plus field goal percentage. Ross led the way once again with 23 points, which is exactly what the Buckeyes have been hoping for all season; someone to fill that void left by Thomas.
The Buckeyes’ defense allowed a much higher than usual field goal percentage to their opponent Blue Devils, who shot 46 percent. They also allowed more points than usual, though, more would have been given up if the defense hadn’t started to look more like themselves in the second half. The defensive performance in the second half finally allowed the offense to give them a comfortable lead over the Blue Devils.
Though they do have plenty of good offensive weapons, it’s not very often this season that we will see Ohio State’s offense overshadow their defense, but when they do, it is likely that Ross will have something to do with it. After some early struggles, he is quickly becoming one of Ohio State’s biggest offensive threats.