There is no question that the Ohio State Buckeyes‘ defense has already won them plenty of games this season.
Senior guard Aaron Craft is the leader of this very effective and stingy defense. His leadership and aggressiveness wins games for the Buckeyes, and on Saturday night against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish it was no different.
The Buckeyes went into halftime with a 33-26 halftime lead because their defense completely outplayed the experience of Notre Dame in the first half. First of all, the Ohio State defense held the Irish to just 34 percent shooting and did not allow them to make any of their attempted three-point shots. They also had four steals and one block by big man Amir Williams.
It was looking good for the Buckeyes as they went into halftime.
Ohio State as a whole forced Notre Dame to commit some fouls, resulting in a few of their seniors already in foul trouble by halftime. Three of Notre Dame’s seniors had two fouls or more at that point, one of which had three. These three players, Garrick Sherman, Jerian Grant, and Eric Atkins ended up on the bench towards the end of the first half, which put Notre Dame in trouble offensively because of their scoring abilities.
For the game, Ohio State’s defensive rebounds once again completely outnumbered their offensive rebounds, showing how much more dominant and aggressive they are on the defensive side of the ball. However, the second half they did not seem to play as well as they did in the first half. Their offensive struggles seemed to transfer to the defensive side as they allowed Notre Dame to outscore them to begin the second half. The Irish were also able to improve their scoring percentage because of these second half struggles by Ohio State.
It did not look promising for Ohio State to stay undefeated as they were down eight with just a minute and a half to go. A few key steals by the Buckeyes, a foul committed by Notre Dame on Lenzelle Smith Jr. as he shot a three-pointer, great free-throw shooting, and the heroics of both Craft and Smith Jr. led to a crazy finish and a 64-61 win by the Buckeyes to stay undefeated.
This is the closest Ohio State has come to losing this season and they handled it very well. Their composure allowed them to stage the comeback and throttle a tough Notre Dame team’s hopes of an upset.