COLUMBUS, OHIO (AP) - As gaudy as that 22-0 record is for top-ranked Ohio State, the Buckeyes aren’t thinking they possess a secret formula that no one else has.
“We haven’t found something that hasn’t been found before,” coach Thad Matta said with a chuckle on Wednesday. “That’s for sure.”
Heading into a home game on Thursday night against rival Michigan, the Buckeyes (22-0, 9-0 Big Ten) have matched the second-best start in the program’s 112 years. A win over the Wolverines (13-9, 3-6), and the only standard left is the 27-0 run by the 1961-62 Buckeyes of Jerry Lucas and John Havlicek.
The current Buckeyes have won big, like in an 87-64 rout of then-No. 12 Purdue last week. Boilermakers coach Matt Painter said after that landslide, “We got five or six calls in the second half that were mercy calls. It really should have been about 30 or 40 points (difference).”
They’ve also won tight games, such as Saturday’s 58-57 escape at Northwestern on Saturday. And in a way, they’ve impressed more people with their ability to win the close ones.
“They’re 9-0 in the conference and I think six of their wins were by five points (or fewer),” Wildcats coach Bill Carmody said. “They find a way to win. … I give them credit. They’re winning all these close games and that’s usually what good teams do.”
Matta was asked what it is about his team, which is 7-0 on the road and has won on the last four trips by a combined 15 points, that allows them to pull games out of the fire.
“Coaching,” he cracked, quickly adding, “No, don’t write that.”
They have lots of things going for them. For instance, 6-foot-9 freshman Jared Sullinger has been a beast inside. The opposition hasn’t figured out a way to stop him with one player. He’s averaging 18 points and 10 rebounds a game, and draws lots and lots of fouls.
So when the other team invariably doubles down on him, that frees up one of Ohio State’s many excellent perimeter shooters _ 3-point specialist Jon Diebler, jump shooters David Lighty and William Buford, point guard Aaron Craft or shot-happy Deshaun Thomas. Those last two, like Sullinger, are freshmen.
“(Sullinger) is a tough kid to play one on one in the post,” Nittany Lions coach Ed DeChellis said. “You have to pick your poison and who are you going to leave open? I don’t want to leave those other guys. So we tried to leave (Craft) and he made the shots.”
Ask the Buckeyes what sets them apart, and they have a quick response.
Everybody else seems to have bought in, as well.View Entire Story
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