It was a tale of two halves for the Ohio State men’s basketball team Saturday afternoon in a 52-35 victory for the No. 10 Buckeyes at No. 17 Marquette.
The first half saw both teams combine for 38 points – the fewest points scored by halftime in Division I college basketball this season. But after the break, the Buckeyes warmed up from the field and cruised to their most impressive win of the young 2013-14 season.
Ohio State (3-0) came out firing in the second half, outscoring the Golden Eagles 33-16 after going into halftime tied 19-19. Sam Thompson led the Buckeyes with 13 points and eight rebounds, while Shannon Scott added 13 points and three boards and Aaron Craft had 10 points, 10 assists and seven rebounds.
“I give our guys a lot of credit,” Ohio State head coach Thad Matta said on WBNS-AM after the game. “I don’t think in your wildest nightmares you could have dreamt up that the game was going to go the way it did, especially at the start. I thought we stuck to the system, especially defensively in terms of just keeping it in front and doing a great job there.”
After Marquette took a 21-19 lead early in the second half on a jump shot by post player Chris Otule, the Buckeyes went on a 12-2 run to take the lead for good. Amir Williams knotted the game with a jumper, and the Buckeyes took the 23-21 lead on a layup by Aaron Craft with 18:22 remaining.
Following a MU miss, Craft grabbed a rebound and recorded an assist on a layup by Shannon Scott. The Buckeyes then extended the lead to eight at 31-23 thanks to a pair of buckets by Scott and a layup by Lenzelle Smith Jr. – one that caused Marquette head coach Buzz Williams to call timeout with 16:15 remaining.
At the time of Marquette’s timeout, the Buckeyes had made six field goals after halftime. In the first half, Ohio State made only seven.
While the Buckeyes shot a respectable 42.3 percent (22 of 52) for the game, Ohio State’s defense – and a fair number of missed open shots and layups by the Golden Eagles – limited Marquette to 18.9 percent (10 of 53) shooting for the afternoon.
“What I kept telling them was to trust the system,” Matta said. “I told them at halftime. We can’t play any worse offensively. Things have to turn for us, but we have to be the ones that force the turn. I thought they stuck together and did a good job with that.”
The first half was one to forget for both teams. Ohio State and Marquette combined for 13 made field goals in 55 attempts, an average of 23.6 percent shooting. Ohio State made only 2 of 10 three-point attempts in the first 20 minutes, but the latter make helped the Buckeyes go into the break even 19-19. At the end of a sloppy possession, the ball was tipped to freshman Marc Loving in the corner and the Toledo St. John product drained a three with seven seconds left in the half.
Ohio State's win was the first against Marquette by a road team at the Bradley Center since Dec. 29, 2011, and showed Matta something in the process.
“They showed us some toughness,” the head coach said. “I think that we played through adversity. That was the biggest thing I talked about (to the team after the game) is we played through adversity.”