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November 10, 2013

Great Scott

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COLUMBUS, Ohio -- What's better than one point guard? Perhaps it's two of them.

Alongside Ohio State's floor leader in Aaron Craft, a staple of the program's lineup for what's felt like a decade, Shannon Scott stole the show in the No. 11-ranked Buckeyes' season opener.

In his first career start, Craft's slightly younger peer of the backcourt totaled 16 points, nine of which came on his first three tries from behind the arc in a 89-50 rout of Morgan State.

For a player who averaged just 4.9 points a game in last year's Elite Eight campaign, the feat might best illustrate the difference between Shannon Scott then and Shannon Scott now.

At the crux of such a contrast seems to be the junior's shooting competency and -- behind it -- the intentional push from coach Thad Matta and company to nurture and mold that part of Scott's game.

"I mean, one day this summer he got 400 shots up and he said, 'I've never done that before' and I said, 'Well there's maybe a reason that you haven't shot the ball particularly well,'" Matta said. "That's something, for him, that we've talked about all offseason is that you've got to be able to knock down those shots because it's going to open up so much more."

And while Scott's 41-percent connection rate last season doesn't appear to be a terribly dreadful figure, Ohio State's apparent offense by committee approach might, in part, hinge on his play.

"I think that's the balance some of this team's going to have to have in terms of how we want to play we think we should play," Matta said.

It's why Scott said he spent countless hours on the court seemingly chucking up shot after shot since the Buckeyes' loss to Wichita State in Los Angeles.

"I tried to stay in the gym as much as possible during the summer and the preseason," he said.

"I think last year there was some times where I didn't take my shot as serious, I think I'm doing a lot better job now with making every shot count and make the most of it and they're going in."

Which, of course, seemed to be the case Saturday against the apparently overmatched Bears.

"I definitely shot more than I used to shoot," Scott said. "We're in there everyday with or without the coaches getting shots up."

Maybe such development isn't that surprising after all.

"I mean, I think it's pretty common knowledge that Shannon Scott has been the best player on the team in our early weeks of practice," said Sam Thompson, who's departed from Ohio State's starting lineup for at least the time being.

According to the junior forward, though, it might be for the best.

"First of all, he's knocking down shots really at an alarming rate. I don't know the percentages of what he's shooting but he's been making a lot of shots in the early going," Thompson said.

"He's been much more aggressive and he's really doing a good job of leading whatever team he's on in practice. You know, the point guards are usually the engine of the team and when Shannon's been going the way he's going in practice it's evident by all the way that all the other guys on this team are playing."

Such a notion seemed somewhat validated against Morgan State.

So now that Scott may have found his shot, Matta said he needs to find consistency.

"Him seeing the ball go through the basket and you see that hard work paying off," he said. "That obviously gives you kind of that boost of confidence as well as, 'I got to continue to do that.'"



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