Stats & Info: Deshaun Thomas

Breaking down the Buckeyes lineup

March, 28, 2012

Elsa/Getty ImagesThad Matta and the Ohio State Buckeyes celebrate their first trip to the Final Four since 2007.
The Ohio State Buckeyes are back in the Final Four for the first time since losing to the Florida Gators in the 2007 championship game. ESPN Stats & Information takes a look at the keys to success for the Buckeyes in New Orleans.

Key Player
The key to the Buckeyes run to the Final Four has been sophomore forward Deshaun Thomas. Thomas scored a career-high 31 points in the Round of 64 win against Loyola-Maryland, and has averaged 21.7 points in this year’s NCAA tournament.

Thomas leads the tournament with 48 points in the paint and 28 second-chance points. Kansas has allowed six players to score 10 or more points in the paint during its last three games.

The All-American
When the Buckeyes traveled to Lawrence to take on Kansas in December, Jared Sullinger missed the game with back spasms. He’ll be in the lineup in the Final Four for a star-studded matchup with fellow All-American Thomas Robinson.

Sullinger leads the nation with 279 points on post-up plays this season while shooting 47 percent. If the Jayhawks can force him farther from the basket, the advantage shifts their way. Opponents are shooting 27 percent on jump shots guarded by Robinson, third-best among Big 12 players.

Sullinger has made 27 free throws in the tournament, the most for any player. After scoring 26 percent of his points from the line during the regular-season, he has scored 38 percent of his points from the line in the last four games.

While Sullinger is the All-American and Thomas has been the hot hand, it was a lesser-known Buckeye who came out of nowhere to help Ohio State win in the Elite Eight and advance to New Orleans.

Lenzelle Smith Jr. scored just 10 total points in Ohio State’s two games in Pittsburgh as the Buckeyes advanced to the Sweet 16. In the team’s games in Boston, he scored 17 points against Cincinnati and 18 against Syracuse while making three 3-pointers in each game.

The Gunner
Senior William Buford leads the team in shots and 3-point attempts this season. During the NCAA tournament, more than half of his shots have been contested by a defender and he has connected on less than 15 percent of those attempts.

As the competition has gotten tougher, more of Buford’s shots have been contested. In Ohio State’s first two games, only nine of 24 shots were contested. Against Cincinnati and Syracuse, 14 of his 20 shots were over a defender.

The Defensive Specialist
Aaron Craft leads the nation with 57 turnovers forced as an on-ball defender this season. No other player in the country forced more than 50.

When the teams met in December, Craft was able to shut down Tyshawn Taylor as a scorer. Taylor scored just 9 points in the game, one of four times this season he was held in single digits.

With Craft guarding him, Taylor had six turnovers and made just one of five shots. The Kansas senior did finish with a career-high 13 assists in the contest.
A recap of Thursday's action in the Men's Basketball Championship.

(4) Louisville 57, (1) Michigan St 44
Rick Pitino improves to 10-0 as a coach in the Sweet 16 -- the best mark of any coach in the history of the tournament -- and Tom Izzo loses to a Big East team in the Men's Basketball Championship for the first time in his career (5-1).

Michigan State's 44 points and 28.6 field goal percentage are both its worst in a Men's Basketball Championship game.

Gorgui Dieng blocked seven shots, tying both his career high and the school record for blocks in a Men's Basketball Championship game (Pervis Ellison, 1989), to help Louisville advance to the Elite Eight for the first time since 2009 and the 12th time in school history.

Draymond Green leads the Spartans with 13 points and 16 rebounds in his final collegiate game.

(1) Syracuse 64, (4) Wisconsin 63
With their victory over Wisconsin, the Orange return to the Elite Eight for the first time since winning the national championship in 2003.

With his 48th tournament victory, Jim Boeheim passes John Wooden for fifth place all-time in tournament wins.

Wisconsin shot 14-for-27 from behind the arc but just 7-for-22 from inside. The 14 3-pointers are the second-most in a tournament game for the Badgers.

The last time Syracuse won a game by one point in the NCAA tournament was the Sweet 16 in 2003, when the Orange beat Auburn 79-78 and went on to win the national championship.

It’s just the fifth time a 1 seed won by just a single point in the Sweet 16.

Wisconsin tried to impose its will in this game, limiting Syracuse to just 52 possessions. That’s the fewest possessions for Syracuse in any game in the past 15 seasons. The previous low was 54, done twice (1999 versus Princeton and 2006 versus West Virginia, both wins).

(7) Florida 68, (3) Marquette 58
Florida reaches the Elite Eight for the fourth time in seven seasons behind one of the best defensive efforts in the shot-clock era.

The Gators have allowed just 153 points through three games in the tournament; only two teams since 1986 have allowed fewer in their first three tournament wins.

The Golden Eagles made 20 field goals, just one more than their season low, but are the first team to top 50 points against Florida in this year’s tournament.

(2) Ohio State 81, (6) Cincinnati 66
Aaron Craft led the defensive effort with six steals, an Ohio State record in a Men's Basketball Championship game. The loss matches Cincinnati's worst in the Sweet 16.

Deshaun Thomas leads all scorers with 26 points (20 in the first half) and adds seven rebounds as Ohio State beats Cincinnati in the Men's Basketball Championship for the first time in school history.

Thomas joins a great list of players in the past five seasons to average at least 25.0 points per game and reach the Elite Eight. The bad news for the Buckeyes is that none of the other three players reached the Final Four.
The ESPN College Basketball Power Index rates three of the four teams remaining in the East Region in the top 15 -- Syracuse at 2, Ohio State at 3 and Wisconsin at 13. Cincinnati, at 36, is the only team outside the top 15 nationally in BPI.

Here are some stats to get you ready for the East Regional Semifinals, which take place Thursday night.

(4) Wisconsin Badgers vs. (1) Syracuse Orange (Thursday, 7:15 ET)

Orange score off turnovers
Syracuse’s opponents have turned the ball over on 24.9 percent of their possessions this season, the highest for any major conference school and the eighth-highest in the nation.

The Orange score 20.3 points per game off turnovers, which also leads all schools in Power 6 conferences.

Turnovers may be harder to come by in the Sweet 16. Syracuse’s opponent, Wisconsin, turns the ball over on just 15.1 percent of its possessions, the second-lowest percentage in the nation.

Easy baskets fuel the Orange
Syracuse is averaging 34.6 points per game in the paint and is 32-0 when it scores at least 20 paint points. In both of Syracuse's losses this season, it was held below 20 points in the paint, 20 transition points and 20 points off turnovers.

The Orange have had only one other game this season, March 3 against Louisville, in which they failed to reach 20 points in at least one of the three categories.

Orange rotten outside the paint
Syracuse is in the Sweet 16 for the third time in the past four seasons. In their previous two trips, the Orange lost both games, shooting a combine 26.8 percent outside the paint.

In the Round of 32, Wisconsin held Vanderbilt to 29.6 percent shooting outside the paint in its win over the Commodores.

Syracuse was at its best in the Round of 32 with Dion Waiters on the court. The Orange outscored Kansas State 47-30 in the 24 minutes with Waiters on the floor, and scored all 12 of its transition points with Waiters in the game.

Badgers slow it down
Wisconsin averages 59.2 possessions per game this season, the fewest in the nation. In its first two games in the tournament, the Badgers averaged 57.0 possessions per game. Despite its slow pace Wisconsin is averaging 66.5 points per game, scoring 1.17 points per possession, the seventh-most among tournament teams.

Wisconsin is shooting 46.2 percent against zone defenses in its first two games, the fifth-best among tournament teams that have faced at least 10 possessions of zone defense; however, the Badgers were just 2-of-9 against Vanderbilt’s zone in the final six minutes of their third-round game.

(6) Cincinnati Bearcats vs. (2) Ohio State Buckeyes (Thursday 9:45 ET)

Ohio State has allowed 88.9 points per 100 possessions, the third-lowest in the nation.

Deshaun Thomas has scored 30 paint points during the tournament, tied for the most in the field. Thomas has scored 12 of the 30 after an offensive rebound, the most second-chance paint points by any player. Jared Sullinger is a different story. He’s shooting just 27.8 percent (5-18) in the paint.

Aaron Craft scored or assisted on 44 of the Buckeyes' 73 points (60.3 percent) in Ohio State's win against Gonzaga; that’s tied with Kendall Marshall for the most points from assists in a tournament game this season.

Cincinnati can close
The Bearcats have been tied or up by one point with four minutes remaining in its first two games of the 2012 Men’s Basketball Championship. From the four minute mark on, the Bearcats outscored Florida State by six points and Texas by five.

Cincinnati has held 19 straight opponents below 45 percent 3-point shooting and the Buckeyes have shot below 40 percent on 3-pointers in eight straight games.