Senior guard Aaron Craft scored 18 points including eight in the final 3:17 as No. 10/9 held off in-state rival Ohio, 79-69, at Value City Arena in Columbus, Tuesday night.
The Buckeyes jumped out to a 9-0 lead and it appeared that the rout was on. The Bobcats first points of the game didn’t come until the 14:27 mark. Ohio State continued to expand the margin and took its biggest lead of the contest a little more than three minutes later after a pair of free throws from junior forward Sam Thompson put OSU up 24-7 with 10:11 left in the first half.
But Ohio didn’t fold up the tent. The Bobcats went on a 13-4 run fueled by nine points from Stevie Johnson, a 5-foot-10 junior guard from Gahanna Lincoln High School.
Ohio State led 40-28 at halftime led by Thompson’s eight points.
In the second half, the Buckeyes led by as many as 16 points. Following a pair of free throws by Thompson, Ohio State held a 54-38 advantage with 14:37 to go.
Once again, the Bobcats kept battling and slowly chipped away at Ohio State’s double-digit cushion. But with 6:09 remaining, Marc Loving’s 17-foot jumper from the right wing put the Buckeyes ahead 64-53.
In the next two minutes, though, Ohio mustered what little was left in the tank for a 7-1 mini-run to make it a two-possession game following a bucket in the paint by junior forward Maurice Ndour that trimmed Ohio State’s lead down to 65-60 with 4:03 left.
Fortunately, that as close as the Bobcats would get. The Buckeyes outscored Ohio 14-9 in the final four minutes, mostly on free throws. The dagger was a three-pointer from the baseline by Lenzelle Smith Jr. that put OSU up 74-64 with 1:55 to play.
Along with Craft’s 18 points, junior center Amir Williams played his best game as a Buckeye, scoring a career-high 14 points while leading the team with 10 rebounds. Two others scored in double figures as Thompson added 12 and junior forward LaQuinton Ross netted 10.
Ohio State was just 18-of-44 (40.9%) from the field, 5-of-18 (27.8%) from three-point range, but a whooping 38-of-51 (74.5%) from the foul line. The 38 made free throws tied a school record that was set against Washington State on Dec. 21, 1968. The 51 attempts were the third most all-time.
Ohio was whistled for 34 personals and five Bobcats fouled out. In all, 55 fouls were called in the game, though no Buckeye was disqualified for five.
For the 2013-14 season, the NCAA adjusted the rules that have been part of basketball in some form for many years. The interpretation and application, through time, loosened and a more physical style of play resulted. The committee decided a correction was needed in these two areas to improve the game and ensure a balance between offense and defense.
The major change, though, was interpreting the rule on “Defending the Player with the Ball.” Several officiating guidelines were voted in as rules, which raised the expectation and importance in this area. Four types of illegal tactics – placing and keeping a hand/forearm on opponent, putting two hands on opponent, continually jabbing by placing hand or forearm on opponent, and using an arm bar to impede the progress of the dribbler – were implemented.
The NCAA also stated that the intended outcome of these rule changes included defenders will need to move their feet as opposed to using their arms/hands to negate an offensive opportunity and increased emphasis will create a less physical game.
Another outcome that the NCAA hopes for is the freedom of movement principles and a smoother game flow. But f you watched last night’s contest, the game really dragged on with all of the stoppages.
For now, the NCAA is sticking to its guns and plans no changes. The NCAA and other experts think that the players and coaches have to adjust. If college basketball is going to be like this all season, it’s going to be a long one.
Up next, Ohio State travels to Milwaukee to take on No. 17 Marquette this Saturday. Tip-off at the Bradley Center is scheduled for 1:00 p.m. ET, and the game will be televised on FOX.