Senior center Velimir Radinovic tied a season-high with 19 points, as Ohio State hung a 60-44 loss on visiting Maryland-Baltimore County on Tuesday.
The Buckeyes (8-4) had their finest defensive effort of the season and led
nearly the entire game. Their largest lead came at 51-30, with 7:38 left in the
In a growing trend, OSU did a good job of feeding the post for easy looks.
Early in the season, the big guys were not getting the ball enough, but that
seems to have changed.
“They were looking for me today and I just had to show the guys that they
could have the confidence in me and I just had to finish down low,” Radinovic
said, commenting on ESPN Plus television.
Tony Stockman had 12 points for the Buckeyes, who continued to experiment
with their starting lineup.
“I told the guys after the game that, ‘I’m not even sure we have a
starting team right now.’ I think what we need to continue to do is, our guys
need to compete every day in practice and that’s going to determine who’s
going to get the minutes, and I think that’s a good thing for us to do,” OSU
head coach Jim O’Brien said on WBNS radio. “I think we’ve found ourselves
in this position because guys like Nick Dials and Ugo Nwankwo and Shaun Smith,
all have become reliable guys and I think that we have to make sure that all
these minutes now are going to be earned, and there not just going to be given.
So, I think that’s a healthy thing for us.”
Tonight’s lineup included Radinovic, Stockman, Nwankwo, Nick Dials and
O’Brien was pleased with the defensive performance. UMBC (3-6) was cold
from the floor, shooting just 35 percent for the game, but anytime you hold a
team under 50 points, you’re doing something right.
“We did a pretty good job tonight on the defensive end,” he said. “Once
again, we’re just trying to keep reinforcing that we have to do a better job
there; we have to work real hard. That’s the focus for these last couple of
weeks and again tonight, I was real happy with those things.”
After a slow start to the game, the Buckeyes finally got some half-court
offense rolling mid-way through the first half. They stretched a slim 10-8 lead
- coming at the 11:49 mark of the half - to 20-9 over the next four minutes and
never looked back.
OSU took a 29-20 lead into halftime.
Led by Radinovic and Nick Dials - who seems to further lock down the point
guard job with every dribble - the Buckeyes quickly took control in the second
half, jumping out to a 15-point lead (41-26) by the first media timeout.
A few minutes later, the lead was over 20 and it was time to get some
reserves in the game.
Most notably for OSU was the extended play of walk-on Nwankwo, who scored a
career-high six points in 14 minutes. Nwankwo, a 6-foot-2 junior guard, hails
from Ann Arbor, Mich.
Also for the winners, Nick Dials had six points and three assists, Shun Jenkins turned in a strong five-point, eight-rebound performance, and Terence
Dials had four points and eight boards.
Ohio State shot 45 percent from the floor, but it would have been well over
50 if the “twin towers” made some bunnies early in the game.
“I thought Velimir and Terence got off to a rocky start early,” O’Brien
said. “I thought we had more than enough opportunities to get the ball close
to the basket and finish some plays in and around the basket. Terence had some
opportunities that he could have finished, and Velimir had a couple early on.
“The second half, I thought Velimir was a lot better. I thought he played
great in the second half.”
Radinovic was just glad he was able to turn things around. He finished one
short of a career-high in points.
“I couldn’t let that get to me,” he said of the near misses. “I was a
little frustrated missing a couple easy shots, but they kept pounding it inside
and I just tried finishing and going up strong.”
For a change, Radinovic got a chance to play against a team that wasn’t
dominated by a three, or four-guard offense. He wasn’t chasing around little
guys all night.
“(UMBC) were more inside-oriented than the last few teams we’ve played,”
O’Brien said. “Where Dartmouth started four guards and one forward, these
guys started two guards and three forwards. I think that was good for us to play
a more physical team.”
GAME NOTES: Matt Sylvester’s trip to the doghouse affected him quite a
bit. In the few minutes he does play, he has no confidence. He is a mental wreck
right now, but there is time to turns things around. He finished with no points
in six minutes of play… Radinovic was 7-of-12 from the floor, dropping him to
69 percent (38-of-55) for the season. He still leads the Big Ten in field goal
percentage. James Augustine of Illinois is second at 68 percent and Iowa’s
Greg Brunner is third at 66 percent… Jenkins continues to get more and more
minutes (20 tonight) and he just seems to have the type of hard-nosed game that
is suited for the Big Ten. Curiously, early in the season, Jenkins wasn’t
playing all that much. He entered the UMBC game averaging only 2.5 points and
2.2 rebounds, but was able to grab a season-high eight boards... Stockman is slowly
getting it. Slowly. He had to be pulled after launching a bad shot late in the
first half, but that was it. Other than that, he played within the flow of the
offense… For one of the few times this season, the Buckeyes played a little
bit of a 2-3, matchup zone defense. They have primarily been a man-to-man team
this season, but during O’Brien’s 7-year tenure, they have always seemed to
play better defense when they mix a lot of zone in… Brandon Fuss-Cheatham’s
brief offensive streak seems to have ended. The junior guard had no points or
assists in 14 minutes of action. His jump shot seems to have digressed; he
double-clutches on long jumpers more than ever now… The high-flying J.J. Sullinger came off the bench for the third straight game and finished with four
points, two assists and two blocks in 20 minutes. This team needs big
contributions from Sullinger to make a run in the Big Ten. He is the most
athletic player on the team by far and just needs to keep playing with
confidence and intensity… Terence Dials also needs to pick it up a notch. All
the athletic ability is there for him - you have to love the way he goes up for
rebounds most of the time - but it would still be nice to see him get a little
meaner… Next up for the Buckeyes is a Sunday showdown with OSU-grad Bob Knight
and Texas Tech. Even moments after the game, the players were already looking
forward to the Red Raiders: “Texas Tech is a tough team, but if we finish
around the basket, I think we’ll have a good chance,” Radinovic said.