COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Quick analysis from Value City Arena, where No. 3 Ohio State defeated No. 8 Florida 81-74 on Tuesday night.
How the game was won: Florida hurt Ohio State early with guard penetration, pick-and-rolls and six first-half 3-pointers. But the Buckeyes tightened up their perimeter defense late in the first half, and the Gators struggled to figure out other options. Jared Sullinger (16 points) took over inside, and William Buford handled the bulk of the scoring as the Buckeyes led by as many as 16 points in the second half and held off a late rally for their second victory in as many years over Florida.
Star of the game: Buford. He led all scorers with 21 points and added six rebounds and three assists while playing all 40 minutes. Freshman Bradley Beal burned Buford a few times in the first half, but the Ohio State senior picked up his defense as the game wore on.
Star of the game II: Aaron Craft had his usual stat-stuffing game. The Buckeyes sophomore point guard finished with 13 points, seven assists, three steals and three rebounds, along with innumerable floor burns. He also helped hold Florida's Erving Walker to just four points on 1-of-6 shooting.
Key stat: Ohio State hit 27 of 34 free throws, while Florida only attempted 21 (making 13).
What each team learned: The Buckeyes found out they could beat a very good team without a huge performance from Sullinger, who sat out a large stretch of the second half after picking up his third foul. But they let up a little too much late to let the Gators nearly get back in it with a barrage of 3s. Florida learned it can get some offensive production out of Patric Young, who had 14 points and 12 rebounds after he got some opportunities in the second half. The Gators need more scoring options, especially on nights when Walker is off.
What's next: Ohio State should fatten up on its record by playing Jackson State, North Florida, VMI and Valparaiso at home the next 10 days before a Nov. 29 showdown with Duke in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge. Florida's next big test should come Dec. 2 at Syracuse.