No. 13 Buckeyes Dispose of UNC Asheville
By John Porentas
As basketball games go, No. 13 Ohio State's 83-59 win over North Carolina Asheville would probably fall into the category of ho-hum.
The Buckeyes (9-0) simply had too much for the Bulldogs (4-8) and were never really seriously challenged in the contest. Asheville did make one run late in the first half to narrow what had been a 15 point OSU lead to just five at 29-24 with 3:09 remaining, but the Buckeyes scored the last eight of the half to take a 37-24 lead at the intermission. From that point on, the Bulldogs were no threat. OSU led by 21 at 50-29 with 15:45 remaining in the game, then extended that lead to a high of 29 points at 63-34 at the 11:16 mark.
"We were fortunate enough to get a double-digit lead going in at halftime and we had great confidence coming out of half time. It just kept on rolling and picking up like a snowball. We had the world's biggest snowman," said Turner of OSU's scoring blizzard.
For whatever the game lacked in competitiveness, the Buckeyes made use of the outing to try out a multitude of player combinations in the wake of the loss of David Lighty with a broken foot. The starting lineup included freshman William Buford as Lighty's replacement, which was no surprise, but it also included Kyle Madsen in the post instead of either Dallas Lauderdale or B. J. Mullens.
"It all just depends on effort," said Evan Turner explaining how Matta determines who gets the minutes.
"Whoever comes out and plays hard and wants it the most and is the toughest lineup, that's the lineup we should go with. Last game we had a lineup where we didn't go particularly hard so we had a different lineup and that's when we made our run. It's all about the effort and all about the heart and playing to our standards," Turner said.
"We had all kinds of lineups out there," said OSU Head Coach Thad Matta of his approach. "There's certain things we're looking for with each lineup."
Matta mixed and matched players throughout the game, using it as kind of a personnel combination lab. He got minutes for Walter Offut and P. J. Hill, both of whom have been somewhat forgotten in the rotation.
"I was very glad to get Walter (Offut) in there tonight because he's a guy who really cares and has great toughness. I thought he played well and we have to continue to bring him along," said Matta.
Madsen got the start but it was Mullens who had a big night in the post. The freshman center scored a career-high and game-high 19 points on eight of 11 shooting from the field and three of five from the foul line. Mullens registered five dunks in his eight field goals, several coming on runouts where he was rewarded for running the floor with a fast break dunk opportunity.
"It's definitely coming easier," said Mullens of his steady improvement as a college player as the season has progressed. "As the season goes on it's going to come a lot easier," Mullens said.
Asheville Head Coach Eddie Biedenbach was impressed with both Mullens and Lauderdale.
"I was surprised at how far their big guys have come. Looking at them on film and watching them in person, there's a little bit of a difference. Both of them are very good," said Biedenbach.
"Mullens is more mobile than when I saw him on tape. He's more rangy than I thought.
"Lauderdale is really physical and plays much bigger. His arm length is exceptional and Mullens is going to be a real good one. He's be good by the time they get to Big Ten tournament time."
Buford also set a career-high scoring mark with 16. Mullens and Buford were joined by Evan Turner and Dallas Lauderdale as double-digit scorers. Turner netted 17 and Lauderdale 11. Biedenbach was effusive in his praise of Turner.
"Here's a guy, I don't know what he shot tonight from three, two for two, so that makes him five for seven on the season.
"He doesn't want to shoot threes. He doesn't struggle with the three, but he's not comfortable there. He realizes he has to rebound and he has to get inside to be an effective player for Ohio State, but he's five for seven from three in nine games, that's a phenomenal percentage for your guy who is your high scorer.
"That's a tribute to him, Thad, the rest of the coaching staff. I've got guys that can't shoot it as good as him firing them up there. There's a few guys at Ohio State who are out of kilter on their shots (selection) but Evan Turner is not one of them, and that's why Ohio State is going to be good."
Mark "Trillionaire" Titus ruined his trillion box score line with a steal in his one minute of play. Fellow Trillionaire Danny Peters also ruined his line with an assist in the same minute of play.
"I think he should be impeached," deadpanned Turner. "He didn't hold it down like he needs to. If any Trillionaire's are watching, take it over, kick him out,"
Despite the tongue-in-cheek failures by Titus and Peters, Matta is pleased with the steady progress his team is making, particularly in the area of understanding what is needed to for the team to win and the role each player must assume to reach that goal. In other words, he likes how they are functioning well as a team.
"We want them to continue to say 'This is my job, I'm going to do my job and do it well,' and I think we're heading in that direction," said Matta.
"Tonight William Buford got a floor burn. He dove for a loose ball. That was something that we had talked to him about the other day, he didn't dive for a loose ball and Iona ends up scoring.
"He's never had a floor burn in his life.
"He came to the timeout and he was grimacing and I said 'Doesn't that feel good?'
"He said 'Not really' and I said 'I don't care. You have to do it anyway.'"