KyleRowland">Rowland | Givler
COLUMBUS, Ohio - The Buckeyes had a battle on their hands for the first half against Valparaiso but the second half was an entirely different story. The Buckeyes went 47-18 in the second half and after missing his first five shots William Buford went 9-11 en route to 25 as the Buckeyes pulled away with an 80-47 win. During the final 20 minutes the Bucks shot for 68 percent and the team was 5-9 from beyond the arc.
"I thought it got a lot better at the end," Matta said.
Aaron Craft had 15 points and eight assists for Ohio State while Jared Sullinger had his fourth straight and 22nd career double-double. Jay Harris led the Crusaders with 18 points while the rest of the team was held to 29 total points.
The Buckeyes found the lead cut to one points twice early in the first half after Harris hit three-pointers but the Buckeyes went on 12-2 run to open the lead to open the lead to 11 points and the game was never in doubt after that.
There were people that were concerned that the Buckeyes would look past this game with a match-up with Duke coming next week. The Blue Devils are ranked No. 6 in the country and after UConn loss will move up to at least No. 5 in next week's rankings.
Matta shortened his bench for most of the game only going seven deep but most of the starters saw extended minutes for the second time of the season (Florida was the first time). Evan Ravenel and Jordan Sibert came off the bench when the game was in question but neither were really a factor at that point. Sullinger, Craft and Buford each played for 37 minutes.
The Bucks only committed one turnover in the first half and committed six as a total for the game but won the points off of turnover battle by a 24-0 margin.
"I thought in the 2nd half we did a much better job of communicating," Matta said.
Ohio State now has won 28 straight games at home and that is their 3rd longest streak in team history. That streak will be put to the test on Tuesday when Duke comes to town. If the Bucks get past the Blue Devils then the streak could be extended to 33 before Big Ten play starts with Ohio State likely being favored by large margins in the next four (Texas Pan-Am, South Carolina Upstate, Lamar and Miami (Ohio)).
Friday's game marks the third game of the week for the Buckeyes. During the week the Buckeyes averaged a winning margin of 34 points against North Florida, VMI and Valpo. The players enjoyed the chance to play without as much practice but there were some signs of fatigue, even if it was not physical.
"I thought we were more mentally tired more than anything else," Matta said.
The Buckeyes are still having trouble connecting from the free throw line and went 12-21 for Friday night's game. The Buckeyes are shooting a dismal 67-percent from the line during the season. Obviously the Buckeyes are not going to be able to do that against teams like Duke, Kansas and the Big Ten schedule.
Tuesday night's game is a late tip-off at VCA going at 9:30 pm (ET) and will be shown on ESPN. If you are looking for a ticket you might have to deal with a scalper because it is the first shutout of the season.