Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Strategy Backfires as Ohio State Rolls

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Strategy Backfires as Ohio State Rolls

Article excerpt

Lenzelle Smith Jr. has been the weakest offensive player for Ohio State, so it seemed only natural that Indiana coach Tom Crean would choose to have his defense apply more pressure on the other Buckeyes.

That strategy backfired when Smith had the best game of his career.

Smith more than doubled his career high with 28 points to lead host No. 5 Ohio State (16-3, 4-2 Big Ten) to a surprisingly easy 80- 63 victory against seventh-ranked Indiana (15-3, 3-3).

"Throughout the game I just saw my man leave me every single time," said Smith, who came in averaging 5.2 points a game.

"The first game [against Indiana], I was complaining about that to my team. This game we capitalized on that and we were able to get some easy buckets."

There was no way Indiana was going to allow All-American forward Jared Sullinger to have his way inside. Crean didn't apologize for leaving Smith all alone on the perimeter.

"Lenzelle is averaging four shots a game. Look it up," Crean said after talking to his team for more than a half hour after the game.

"He really played well. He played well at our place, but they've got a lot of good players. That's why they're as good as they are."

Smith, who missed practice on Thursday and Friday with a bad case of strep throat, made the most of almost every chance he had.

"That's kind of like a coach's dream when you see it going in there," Ohio State coach Thad Matta said of Smith's shooting.

"Because you're making them pay for the adjustment that they're making. He did a tremendous job with that."

Sullinger added 16 points, William Buford 12 and Deshaun Thomas 11 for the Buckeyes, who were coming off a loss at Illinois on Tuesday night. Several players questioned their teammates' commitment and effort after that game.

There was no doubt about either Sunday as Ohio State took command early and was never threatened.

Smith was the No. 1 reason.

Smith, who came in scoring about five points per game, erased almost every offensive high-water mark he had ever had in a game.

He hit 10 of 12 shots from the field including 4 of 5 3- pointers. He also had seven rebounds, an assist and a steal.

Matta joked that he was going to try to give each of his players a case of strep throat. …

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