December 11, 2012

Three-point play: Savannah State

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Follow Noon | Givler | Axelrod | Birmingham

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Four days removed from perhaps its most complete effort of the season- an 89-55 win over Long Beach State on Saturday- the No. 7-ranked Ohio State men's basketball team will return to the court on Wednesday when it hosts Savannah State for a 7 p.m. tipoff at the Schottenstein Center. Head coach Thad Matta and members of his team met with the media on Tuesday to discuss their upcoming matchup with the Tigers and the latest happenings in Buckeye basketball.

Three deep in the post

Unhappy with the defensive presence that he was getting from Evan Ravenel and Amir Williams against the 49ers on Saturday, Matta inserted reserve center Trey McDonald into the game in hopes of bolstering OSU's effort in the post. In 15 minutes of action, the sophomore responded with four points and four rebounds, which Matta said could lead to more playing time for the Battle Creek, Mich. native.

"Trey is very athletic, he's very strong. He's one of the strongest guys on the team," Matta said. "I felt like during the game and even watching it afterwards, that number one, he was consumed with doing the right thing. Basketball's not a game of perfection, that's for sure, but he seemed like he understood this is what my team needs me to do and I'm going to do it to the best of my ability."

After watching him play in just a total of 38 minutes as a freshman, Matta has been pleased with the progress that McDonald has been making throughout his sophomore season.

"I've watched the evolution of Trey and just the progress that he's made since he's been here," Matta said. "There's no doubt in my mind that his best basketball is right around the corner."

Streaking sophomores

Aside from McDonald, Matta has been pleased with the efforts that he's been getting out of other members of his 2011 recruiting class, including point guard Shannon Scott and forward Sam Thompson.

Scott, who leads the Buckeyes with 4.7 assists per game through seven contests, said that he's felt much more comfortable on the court this season opposed to last.

"This year I'm just focused on making the sure pass instead of making the risky pass," Scott said. "My ability to score a little bit more this year is helping me. The defenses are actually coming closer to me now, so I'm able to make the easy pass and dish it off to my teammates."

Thompson also said that he's felt much improved from a season ago. The Chicago native is averaging 7.1 points per game on 47.2 percent shooting, and feels as though the work that he put in on his jump shot over the offseason is now paying dividends for him.

"From a physical standpoint, I think my jump shot is what has made the greatest improvement from last year and from my senior year of high school until now," Thompson said. "That's something that's opened up a lot of things for me, opened up some driving lanes, opened some passing lanes."

Scouting Savannah

In Savannah State, the Buckeyes will be facing a team that hasn't allowed any more than 62 points in a single game this season. Matta said that it's the Tigers' defense that stands out to him the most while watching them on film.

"We're going against a great defense. You look at their scores and where Savannah State is defensively, they're a very experienced team," Matta said. "We have to execute and we have to take great care of the basketball."

Thompson said that the key to the game on Wednesday could be as simple as OSU imposing its will on Savannah State, who will come to Columbus sporting a 5-4 record.

"Just come out and do what we do. We want to be the aggressors in this game," Thompson said. "We don't want them to come in here and dictate pace and dictate how the game is played."


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