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Behind Thomas, Buckeyes tame Tigers

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COLUMBUS, Ohio -- It had been nearly three weeks since Deshaun Thomas topped the 20-point mark in a single game, but on Wednesday, it took the Ohio State forward less than one half of action to get there.

Thomas scored 22 points- 21 of which came in a first half performances that included four three-pointers- to lead the Buckeyes to an 85-45 win over Savannah State, advancing No. 7-ranked OSU to 7-1 on the season. The Buckeyes' leading scorer on the year said after the game that it was just one of those halves where the hoop seemed as big as an ocean.

"Some of those first threes I hit wasn't going in the past couple games. Now my teammates was getting me open and I was ready to shoot," Thomas said. "It just feels good out there getting in that rhythm, getting in the open spots, and just knocking them down."

Briefly falling behind the Tigers in the first two minutes of action, the Buckeyes quickly rallied and found their rhythm, putting together a 41-16 run to close the half and take a 42-18 lead into intermission. After a pair of Amir Williams free throws gave OSU a 14-4 lead with 12:41 remaining in the first half, the Buckeyes never again led Savannah State by less than double digits.

Thomas said the key to OSU's complete effort on Wednesday was its ability to not overlook its now 5-5 opponent.

"Teams come in here and don't take us lightly. We've got to prepare like it's the Duke game," Thomas said. "Every we game we play, we've got to come in and play hard."

Winning the rebounding battle by a 48-21 margin, Ohio State's momentum carried over into the second half, where the Buckeyes led by as many as 42 points, never allowing doubt of the game's outcome to creep into their minds.

On the heels of a 27-point win over Northern Kentucky and a 34-point victory against Long Beach State, OSU's taming of the Tigers marked the third consecutive game in which the Buckeyes have put together a full 40-minute effort. That's a trend that encourages OSU coach Thad Matta, whose team has just two games remaining before a Dec. 22 date with No. 9-ranked Kansas.

"The thing that we've been harping on these guys the most is we have to get better, don't go back to tomorrow," Matta said. "I like that we've played with energy, we've played with enthusiasm, our intensity has been pretty good in these games."

While Thomas stole the show for the Buckeyes, OSU center Evan Ravenel provided one of his best efforts of the season, scoring 11 points and pulling down nine rebounds on Wednesday night. After the Buckeyes' post play received considerable criticism in recent weeks, Ravenel said that the difference against Savannah State was a heart-to-heart that he had with Matta and his staff following the team's win over Long Beach State on Saturday.

"Me and some of the coaches sat down and they talked about my performance and how I just gotta play with energy. If I play with energy, I can get the output like I had today," the senior center said. "It ain't always going to be perfect, but if I play hard, and play with energy, good things happen."

Sophomore forward LaQuinton Ross added to the OSU effort with 13 points- all of which came in the second half- and nine rebounds, while point guard Shannon Scott scored 12 points and recorded three assists. Forward Arnold Louis led the Tigers with 14 points against the Buckeyes.

With final exams for the semester coming to a close for Ohio State students this week, the Buckeyes will return to action on Saturday at the Schottenstein Center, for a 12 p.m. tipoff with UNC Asheville that will air live on the Big Ten Network.