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November 20, 2013

Buckeyes subdue American

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COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Sometimes, your defense is your best offense. And sometimes, it's your only offense.

Such seemed the case of Ohio State against American.

After an absurdly frigid start, the No. 8-ranked Buckeyes used a tenacious defense to overcome a 27-percent shooting effort in the first half and the Princeton offense before besting the Eagles, 63-52, Wednesday night at the Schottenstein Center.

"I think a lot of it had to do with we were defending for so long. We hadn't seen that in a while. We've seen this before, you play a team that has this style and you can't let it take your mind on the other end of the floor," said coach Thad Matta.

"We were slow to balls, our transition -- especially in the first half. We were running on top of each other, we didn't have spacing, we were bobbing passes, we didn't it at the level we needed to have it."

Following a 52-35 win against then-No. 17 ranked Marquette, Matta's crew struggled to put the ball in the basket much like they did in Milwaukee, Wis., Saturday.

"We had 13 shots we missed at halftime that were right in the paint and it was a little deja vu of up there Saturday in terms of putting the ball in the bucket," he said. "Thank goodness, Amir (Williams) got us off to a pretty decent start there and was making some shots."

Williams, whose play has surged early for the Buckeyes this season, had 16 points and seven rebounds to help guide his team in the first of an eight-game home stand.

"I've just been working my tail off in the offseason, during practice as well, just trying to have some go-to moves in the post and it's looking like it's finally starting to come alive a little bit more," he said.

"I'm starting to play with a lot more confidence and I'm making moves in the post and I just hope I can keep the confidence up and continue to make those moves, continue to get those baskets in the post, continue to make those baskets down low for my team so I can help them night in and night out.

"It's confidence and once I see that ball go in the basket then like any other player would, you want the ball again and go try to make another basket. It's a confidence thing, you want to continue to work on it, continue to work your craft."

For Ohio State, Williams initially seemed to serve as a lone bright spot after opening the contest connecting on just 2-of-16 shots before employing an 11-2 run to close out the first half.

"I think a lot of it confidence and having the toughness to step up and shoot the shot the way it's supposed to be shot," Matta said of his team's woeful start.

"I've always said this: we shoot the ball as much or more than anybody in the country I think and we've shot it well in practice but for whatever reason, those little one or close one we missed tonight were just kind of permeated throughout the team it's just like, 'Jeez, it's not going in.' Fortunately, we kept defending."

And for the Buckeyes, which led, 28-23, at intermission, it seemed to be the difference against a scrappy American squad that shot 46 percent from the floor.

"You got to do a lot of things right to beat a team like that," said Eagles coach Mike Brennan.

"I mean, we had 27 turnovers and gave up 17 offensive rebounds so I think that had a lot to do with the loss tonight. But they're good, they're loaded. They got a lot of weapons."

In particular and aside from Williams, such a weapon was Shannon Scott, who finished with 13 points and nine boards.

And on a day that saw Ohio State connect on just 36 percent of its shots, no other Buckeye would total double digits Wednesday night.

"I think we got a lot of great looks but we just didn't them in," Scott said. "We gotta keep coming in everyday and shooting shots and making them game-time shots not just coming in and shooting the ball."

Ohio State is set to play Wyoming Monday at 7 p.m. at the Schottenstein Center.



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