My friend Matthew was kind enough to give me and three of my friends tickets to the Ohio State Buckeyes vs. IUPUI Jaguars men’s basketball game. I was excited to see Jared Sullinger play in person. He came into the season was one of the top two freshman in the nation. The way Harrison Barnes has been playing for North Carolina, many now think that Sullinger is the best in the nation. How did he handle an under-sized IUPUI team with nine days rest? Just look at the boxscore…
First, I want to explain that I hate IUPUI. I went to IPFW and they are our rivals. It isn’t exactly Duke/UNC, but I was hoping for a slaughtering. The game wasn’t supposed to be close, the Buckeyes came into the game #2 in the nation and IUPUI was 4-5 on the season. The Jaguars perimeter shooting kept them in the game in the first half, they shot 50% from behind the arc. Ohio State looked rusty as a team and the game was tied 35-35 at the half. The Jaguars looked very hesitant about trying anything near the paint, since Sullinger was waiting there.
Ohio State started the 2nd half very poor and IUPUI kept shooting well from the perimeter. With ten minutes left in the game, the Jaguars had a nine point lead on the #2 team in the country. Thad Matta kept his starting five in the game and decided to run the offense through Sullinger. They kept pounding the ball inside and Sullinger would either score or get fouled. Sullinger made 16 of 23 free throw attempts on the night, struggled from the line early, but found his stride towards the end of the game. The Jaguars started to double-team him inside and to fight that off, he would kick the ball out to Jon Diebler and he made them pay. He was hitting every open shot in the 2nd-half. Ohio State dominated the last ten minutes and won the game 75-64. Sullinger finished the game with 40 points and 13 rebounds. His 40 points set a freshman scoring record at Ohio State and was only the 4th time since the 1940s that a Buckeye scored 40 points in a game.
What should you take from Sullinger’s 40-point outing? IUPUI’s tallest player on the court was 6’8 Anthony Williams, and he isn’t a Wooden Award nominee, to say the least. You should take from this game that Ohio State will always have Sullinger inside to go to if David Lighty, William Buford, or Diebler is off from the perimeter. Ohio State is a very deep team this year, something they couldn’t say last year. Aaron Craft looks solid at the point and if players get in foul trouble, you have freshman DeShaun Thomas for offense and Dallas Lauderdale as a big man defensively. Ohio State is one of the best teams in the nation and they are built for a run in the tournament. It know it is early, but this team could be better than the team lead by Greg Oden and Mike Conley Jr. in 2006-07.