COLUMBUS, Ohio - The Ohio State Buckeyes missed four of their first five shots of the game against Long Beach State and then went on to shoot close to 50-percent the rest of the way as Deshaun Thomas led the Buckeyes with 18 points and three others scored in double figures as Ohio State won easily, 89-55 over the visiting 49ers.
Aaron Craft was slowed for most of the game with three first half fouls and was picked up by Shannon Scott who was held mostly in check scoring (three points) but had nine assists as the Buckeyes had 22 assists on 31 field goals.
"We are all going to be in foul trouble at some point during the season so it is important to rotate guys in and let them get confidence early in the season," Smith Jr. said. "When we have a lot of guys with confidence we are a scary team."
The Ohio State defense kept Long Beach State stymied on the offensive side with starters Mike Caffey and Peter Pappageorge combining for 2-18 from the field.
"Coach Matta wants good defense to be the identity of this team so we do a lot of defensive drills in practice," Smith Jr. added. "Right now as a team we're playing together well on the defensive end of the floor."
Ohio State led by 42 points mid-way through the 2nd half but called the dogs off and focused on getting multiple sets on the floor as the team tries to find guys who can contribute both offensively and defensively. But the substitutions started early in the game and Thad Matta rotated ten players in during the first half.
"It started (in the first half) with Trey McDonald, "Matta said. "(He) came off the bench and did what he needed to do… play great post defense and provide great energy. All those guys played were well and very cohesively."
Long Beach State has been on a brutal road tilt with games that have included North Carolina, Arizona and Syracuse and current head coach (and former Minnesota head coach) Dan Monson rated the Ohio State defense the best unit that he has faced during the non-conference schedule.
"You have to put kids in adverse situations to see how they react," Monson said. "It's hard but they need to figure it out. We try to embrace that."
The Buckeyes will have an off-day on Sunday before getting back to work in preparation for their next game on Wednesday (7pm - BTN) against Savannah State at Value City Arena.