Buford happy after Ohio State’s big second half keys rout of VMI

Published 12:34 am Friday, November 25, 2011

COLUMBUS (AP) — William Buford couldn’t have been happier that No. 3 Ohio State was playing against VMI, a team that liked to press and run and gun.

Buford scored 23 points and Jared Sullinger added 17 points and 12 rebounds to lead the Buckeyes past the Keydets 107-74 on Wednesday night.

“I liked it. I don’t know about everybody else, but I did,” Buford said of VMI’s uptempo style. “We just stayed with it and we were making shots on offense and getting rebounds and pushing it.”

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Aaron Craft had 13 points and eight assists, Deshaun Thomas 11 points and J.D. Weatherspoon 10 points for the Buckeyes (5-0), who shot 68 percent from the field.

“I told our guys after the game Monday night, I said, ‘Hey, this (VMI) is going to be a fun game for you,”’ Ohio State coach Thad Matta said.

Buford, the only senior on Ohio State’s roster, had hit just 8 of 23 field-goal attempts in Ohio State’s last two games and was shooting just 41.7 percent from the field on the season. But he made 10 of 16 shots from the field, including both 3-point attempts and his only foul shot.

He blamed it on the bad shots he was taking in previous games.

“That’s just something that I don’t need to do, to be honest,” he said. “I’m just trying to find the way to take good shots. And Craft’s getting me the ball and Sully’s setting good screens. Tonight I was just fortunate to knock them down.”

Keith Gabriel led VMI (3-2) with 21 points, with Ron Burks adding 19 and Stan Okoye 12. The Keydets were playing their first ranked opponent since a 107-69 loss to then-No. 4 Ohio State on Nov. 10, 2006. That Buckeyes team went on to the national championship game before falling to defending NCAA champion Florida, 84-75.

“They are as advertised,” coach Duggar Baucom said of the current Buckeyes. “Sullinger’s a load inside and did a great job and we knew he and Buford were the two main guys. We didn’t know that Deshaun Thomas could shoot 3s like that.”

The 6-foot-7 Thomas opened things up by hitting 3 of 4 shots behind the arc in the opening half.

The Keydets came in averaging 88.2 points a game (allowing 82) while pumping up a shot every 34 seconds. Early on, the Buckeyes beat them at their own game by hurrying back against the press for easy baskets. Sullinger made all four first-half field-goals, all from within a step of the basket.

“Throughout this week coach has really been on us to make more shots,” Craft said. “That’s definitely one of the things that we needed to do better was to knock down good shots. One of the greatest ways to help us to do so is to get the ball inside to Jared and Deshaun and allow them to get some easy buckets. That just opens it up more for everyone else.”

The Buckeyes ran their home winning streak to 27 in a row, and can tie the third-longest streak in school history when they host Valparaiso on Friday night. They play their first eight games at home before visiting No. 14 Kansas on Dec. 10.

Ohio State led by 13 at the half after shooting 70 percent from the field in the opening 20 minutes. Sullinger then scored on three easy baskets inside to open the second half and the Buckeyes later went on a 23-3 run to put the game out of reach.

“The difference in the game, it was 13 at the half and they came out and pounded it into Jared and he got some baskets,” Baucom said. “Then, uncharacteristically, we turned it over, which turned into transition (baskets).”

Matta went to his bench for most of the last 12 minutes.

Ohio State has won all three meetings with the Keydets, all at home.

The Buckeyes have been busy this week, but that hasn’t seemed to be a problem.

“This is a college player’s dream week right now,” Sullinger said with a laugh. “Three games in five days, that means less practice.”


Follow Rusty Miller on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/rustymillerap .