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December 20, 2011

Bucks heat up in the second half

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COLUMBUS, Ohio - There are times where a 20-point win is not nearly as impressive as the final score indicates and Tuesday night was one of those games. The Buckeyes shot a pedestrian 39-percent in the first half and 42-percent from the free throw line but Jared Sullinger had a double-double (18 points, 11 rebounds) and DeShaun Thomas had 16 points as Ohio State (11-1) routed Lamar (8-4) 70-50.

Lamar was led by Stan Brown and Devon Lamb who both had ten points apiece but outside shooting was a problem from the word go with the Cardinals going 0-13 from distance.

"We can't shoot the 3s," Lamar head coach Pat Knight said after the game. "That was a problem with this team last year because that was all they wanted to do. We're just not a good shooting team -- we've got to ground and pound and take the ball to the basket."

Ohio State didn't have a problem getting the ball down in the paint and scored 42 points down low. The Bucks held the rebounding edge with 40 versus 38 for Lamar and the Buckeyes pulled down 11 offensive rebounds.

The Buckeyes only have one more non-conference game on the schedule before opening up the Big Ten season against Northwestern after the team returns from holiday break. A slow start will not be an option once league play starts.

"Honestly, we just need energy period," Sullinger said. "We were kind of dead today."

"In some games, you're off," Thomas said. "When it's like that you have to pick it up on defense and get steals and breakaways. We did well today by protecting the ball and scoring."

Ohio State head coach Thad Matta knows that he has a young team and misses the senior leadership that he had on previous Buckeye teams. But he also does not compare this team to other teams and will not discuss that with such a young team. What he does know though is that the team has to get off to better starts.

"I have to find the answer," Matta said. "I think it will come from the standpoint of the mentality of thinking outside the box to make sure we're ready. We need to get to the point where we can sustain our effort throughout the game."

The Buckeyes saw Sullinger play 30 minutes in the game on Tuesday night and while it didn't seem as if the Buckeyes needed the big man, Sullinger admitted that he needs to get out there and keep his timing fresh.

"I have to get back in a routine," Sullinger said. "I can't sit here and wait for it to heal. I had to get back as soon as possible."

William Buford left the game in the first half after reportedly taking an elbow on his shoulder and feeling what Matta described as a "stinger". The senior guard returned to the line-up in the second half but was held in check and only had seven points in the game, none coming in the second half.

The absence of Buford allowed Sam Thompson to see a couple more minutes (had 14 in the game) but Thompson was cold from the field and did not connect on a field goal.

The Buckeyes will play again on Thursday but not at Value City Arena. Ohio State will take on Miami (Ohio) at Nationwide Arena in downtown Columbus. A different venue but a short drive from the Ohio State campus.

"We've only done it once since I've been here," Matta said. "It's a good game for us; they have a great coach. It's overall just a great game to have before Christmas."



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