Sunday, March 20, 2011
Rapid Reaction: Ohio State 98, GMU 66
By Brian Bennett
CLEVELAND -- Ohio State didn't need to survive any scares this weekend. Heck, the Buckeyes barely broke a sweat.
After cruising by Texas-San Antonio by 29 points on Friday, the tournament's No. 1 overall seed crushed short-handed George Mason 98-66 in arguably the most impressive effort of the third round. The Buckeyes shot 61 percent from the field and 61.5 percent from 3-point range. Only an act of sportsmanship at the end kept the score from reaching the century mark.
The Buckeyes are rolling into the Sweet 16, and if they keep playing like this, it's hard to see who will beat them before they get to Houston.
Turning point: George Mason came out strong and grabbed a quick 11-2 lead. But that was about the last good thing to happen for the Patriots. Ohio State outscored the No. 8 seed 50-15 the rest of the half, including a 26-4 run over the final 8:30, for a 52-26 advantage at halftime. It only got worse from there for George Mason.
Key stat: Ohio State went 16-of-26 from the 3-point arc, and that was after missing their final three attempts from that distance in garbage time. The 16 3-pointers set a school tournament record.
Star player:David Lighty clearly enjoys playing in his hometown. The senior made all seven of his 3-point attempts and finished with 25 points. George Mason dared him to shoot early, and he had 17 first-half points to help jump start his teammates.
Miscellany: George Mason played without starting guard Luke Hancock, who had 18 points and hit the big 3-pointer in the win over Villanova. Hancock was ill with flu-like symptoms and stayed back at the team hotel. Normal sixth man Isaiah Tate started in place of Hancock. ... Ohio State freshman Aaron Craft had 15 assists off the bench.
What's next: Ohio State will play Kentucky on Friday in the Sweet 16 in Newark, N.J. George Mason must settle for being the second-best team in school history. Nothing wrong with that.