Ohio State’s formula for winning games last season was simple: Get the ball to Jared Sullinger and let him do his thing; when defenses focus on him, everyone else hit shots.
That’s slightly simplified, but it’s how they spent most of the season No. 1.
This season, expect more of the same. But Ohio State seems a little rusty at step 1.
As Andy Glockner noted from Tuesday’s 81-74 win against Florida, the Buckeyes thrived when Sullinger was fed the ball in the low post, scoring 1.67 points per possession. (An absurd number.) However, they only successfully fed Sullinger nine times in 68 possessions.
The other 59 possessions resulted in 1.12 points per possession.
The difference may simply be rust.
Sophomore point guard Aaron Craft and senior William Buford either waited too long to feed Sullinger the ball or didn’t do a good job getting the defense off balance to make the pass. The Mikan Drill has a series of videos illustrating the difference between this season and last, which you can see here.
(That’s what you call synergy among college hoops writers. Thanks guys.)
Fairly certain Ohio State coach Thad Matta’s already ironing out the offensive kinks. After all, getting the ball to Sullinger is hardly a secret. Maybe all they need is a reminder.
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Nic Moore scored 18 of his 25 points in the second half and added 11 assists as No. 16 SMU knocked off Gonzaga in Moody Coliseum on Saturday night, 69-60.
The Zags got 20 points and 16 boards from Domantas Sabonis, but Kyle Wiltjer scored just four points and shot 2-for-17 from the floor.
It wasn’t pretty.
And it may have been the end of Gonzaga’s NCAA tournament hopes.
Entering Saturday, the Zags had an RPI in the mid-60s, enough to keep them in the bubble conversation but not enough to make them anything more than a team that will be projected to end up on the cut-line.
The issue is a complete lack of quality wins on their résumé. Gonzaga beat UConn in the Bahamas. That’s a borderline top 50 win. They beat Washington, another borderline top 50 win. Beyond that? They swept Pepperdine, beat Tennessee and own a win over Montana. None of those are top 100 wins, and that’s why the SMU game was such a big deal. The Mustangs are a top 25 team. This was a road game. This win was the kind of thing that the Zags could pin at the top of their profile.
But Wiltjer didn’t show up, the Zags had no answer for Moore and they’ll head back to Spokane needing, in all likelihood, to win the WCC’s automatic bid if they want to dance.
Cal picked up a big win over Oregon State in Haas Pavilion on Saturday night, and the exclamation point was this emphatic dunk from Jaylen Brown: