35-2. That is the record the three seniors at IU have earned while playing on their home court during the last two seasons. After the way the first years went for these guys, no one could have expected that. Heck, no one would have blamed them if they left either, but these guys saw the big picture. Maybe all their hard work didn’t have immediate effect but it certainly has come to fruition this season. If they could manage one more victory out on Branch McCracken Court tonight, they will seal the first outright Big Ten conference title since 1993. Quite the opposite from their 3-15 last place finish just two seasons ago.
Standing in their way of this story book turnaround is Ohio State. Thad Matta and the Buckeyes used to beat up on these same kids back in the day. However, the shoe is on the other foot this time around as the Hoosiers have been getting sweet revenge with wins in 2 of the last 3 meetings. This game will be a celebration of huge magnitude for the players, coaches, and fans of the home team. Ohio State has one plan: crash the party.
With that, here is the scouting report for tonight’s game:
Game time: 9:00 p.m. Tuesday, March 5, 2013
TV: ESPN (Mike Tirico, Dan Dakich and Sam Ponder)
Ohio State Buckeyes: 21-7 (11-5) Rank: 14 AP/12 KP
#4 Aaron Craft: 6-2 190 Jr. G 9.4ppg 3.6rpg 4.4apg
-Aaron is the face of this Buckeyes team and they will need him to provide a little more offensive support in this game. Everybody knows how great of an on-ball defender he is, although he gets away with a fair amount of hand checking, but he was unable to disrupt the freshman Yogi Ferrell last game. Craft can’t afford to foul out again if Ohio State wants to stay in it this time around.
#32 Lenzelle Smith, Jr.: 6-4 205 Jr. G 10.3ppg 5.0rpg 1.6apg
-Lenzelle went off for 24 points last Thursday against Northwestern knocking down six threes in the process. He is their most efficient 3-pt shooter mainly because of all the clean looks he gets from the defense helping off on Thomas. If he starts hitting tonight, it could be different game then what we saw at Value City Arena.
#12 Sam Thompson: 6-7 190 So. F 7.0ppg 3.3rpg 1.1apg
-Sam is usually good for a few boards, maybe a block or two, and at least one elite display of athleticm a game. He was a complete non-factor on February 10 and unless he shows he is more than just an athlete I wouldn’t be surprised if he followed suit in this game.
#1 Deshaun Thomas: 6-7 225 Jr. F 19.8ppg 6.1rpg 1.3apg
-I thought Deshaun struggled in the first game but still put up 26 points on twenty shots and nine free throws. Thomas is going to get his points virtually ever game so it’s more important to contain him while focusing on not letting the complimentary players beat you.
#23 Amir Williams: 6-11 250 So. C 4.2ppg 4.1rpg 0.1apg
–Foul trouble made it impossible for Amir to get involved last game. He only played 11 minutes and it didn’t even seem like that much. If the Buckeyes are going to stop Cody Zeller this time around they are going to need their sophomore big man to stay off the bench.
Coming off the bench:
#3 Shannon Scott: 6-1 180 So. G 4.9ppg 2.4rpg 3.9apg
-Scott is Matta’s only reliable backcourt bench option but he isn’t someone that should worry us fans when he comes in. He plays because of his defense and shouldn’t be a concerning offensive threat.
#30 Evan Ravenel: 6-8 260 Sr. F 5.2ppg 4.5rpg 0.3apg
#10 LaQuinton Ross: 6-7 225 So. F 7.5ppg 3.0rpg 0.5apg
#55 Trey McDonald: 6-8 225 So. C 1.2ppg 1.2rpg 0.1apg
#33 Amedeo Della Valle: 6-5 Fr. G 2.8ppg 1.6rpg 0.2apg
Keys to the game:
- With all the emotion and excitement surely to fill the air in Assembly Hall, it will be critical for the players to keep a level head throughout. In a perfect world, Jordan Hulls & Christian Watford hit 10 threes and both drop thirty a piece and Derek Elston starts doing the Tipton Tornado in circles around Thad Matta as the game comes to an end.
- The Hoosiers have been pretty good so far this season at “making more free throws than your opponent attempts” and last game against the Buckeyes was no different. Another high free throw rate in favor of Indiana puts more offensive pressure on Ohio State, something they (OSU) don’t want.
- Outside of Victor Oladipo, Watford, and Zeller, IU only got eleven points in their February 10th contest. A much more balanced effort is preferred but they won by 13 last game so I say go do whatever you want.
- Lastly, on behalf of Hoosier Nation I just want to say thank you to Jordan, Christian, and Derek. We can’t even began to imagine how much you have sacrificed and we know you have given everything to us when we deserved nothing. Congrats on the Big Ten Title and I know I can’t wait to see you guys in Atlanta.