Big Ten/ACC Challenge: Ohio State Survives Sloppy Game in Tallahassee

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Big Ten/ACC Challenge: Ohio State Survives Sloppy Game in Tallahassee
Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images
Jared Sullinger struggled against a stout Florida State defense

Ohio State did everything it could to help Florida State get a win tonight. The Buckeyes self-destructed in the second half and were dominated in the paint getting blocked left and right by the Seminoles.

Thad Matta has gotten a courtside view of his team's biggest weaknesses this season: mental and physical toughness.

Dallas Lauderdale has been the one lone big man who’s stayed around these past few seasons. His leadership and enforcer type of attitude was lacking tonight as he finished with five rebounds and one block.

Jared Sullinger once again answered the call and finished with a double-double, but was very quite in the second half when the team needed his points in the paint and his rebounds on defense.

The Buckeyes were firmly handled in the paint, with the Seminoles finishing with 10 blocks and out-rebounded the Buckeyes for most of the second half. It was an ugly win for a team that could have easily rolled by 20.

Ohio State shot a season low 32 percent from the field and had a season high 15 turnovers in a lackluster effort in Tallahassee. It may be a bit premature to crown the Buckeyes as the Big Ten Champion this season; they’ll see this type of competition on most nights during the gauntlet of a schedule they face from New Year’s Eve on.

Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images
Aaron Craft's defense continues to be a bright spot for Ohio State

Many critics have stated that Ohio State’s schedule is too weak and that they won't have a mental edge going into conference play. So far they’re right. The Buckeyes played an impressive game at Florida, but since then have not been tested until tonight. Their matchup with South Carolina (4-1) on Dec. 18 is the only remaining test during the non-conference schedule.

The Seminoles are a very good defensive team and should do well this year in the ACC; that being said Ohio State should have run away with this game if it had kept its composure in the second half. The Seminoles had the Buckeyes rattled for most of the second half, but shooting woes doomed any chance of a Florida State upset.

Aaron Craft continues to improve on both ends of the court and has been especially impressive defensively so far this season. He’s not expected to score in Matta’s offense but did finish with three steals and four rebounds. This lack of offensive pressure is directly responsible for the quick development of Ohio State’s new point guard.

William Buford had his worst game of the season, fouling out midway into the second half. He’s presence was missed for the remaining part of the game especially on the offensive end of the court. He finished with nine points and five rebounds.

David Lighty and Jon Diebler did exactly what seniors are supposed to do when their team is struggling on the road: carry the team. Both guards finished with double digits, scoring 10 and 12 points respectively.  Diebler had one of his poorest shooting performances of his career, shooting a dismal 20 percent from beyond the arc, but made up for it with his four steals.

Ohio State (6-0) will go back to its soft schedule while it waits to host the Gamecocks on Dec. 18. The Buckeyes will take the court next on Dec. 9 against IUPUI at 7:00 pm in Columbus.

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