Ohio State’s bench a no-show in Final Four loss

Ohio State’s starters could have used some help in the 64-62

loss to Kansas on Saturday night.

Any help could have made the difference in whether the Buckeyes

headed home or moved on to the national championship game.

The three reserves who played for Ohio State (31-8) combined for

zero points without taking a shot, four rebounds and two assists.

In a game that came down to the final seconds, any help could have

made the difference.

Sam Thompson, Amir Williams and Evan Ravenel weren’t offensive

forces all season, combining for a total of 8.3 points per game.

But on a night when every point was so crucial, they came up

empty.

The Kansas reserves weren’t much better. Their two subs – Conner

Teahan and Kevin Young – combined for three points but they got off

seven shots, the only successful one a 3 by Teahan with 8:19 to

play. Young had five rebounds, four on the offensive end, for

Kansas (32-6).

There won’t be much talk about the Jayhawks’ lack of depth

because they are celebrating moving on to face Kentucky for the

title on Monday night.

Ohio State, on the other hand, has a long offseason to think

what might have been if there was any offense from the

reserves.

Point guard Aaron Craft played all 40 minutes for the Buckeyes,

while All-America Jared Sullinger played 39, William Buford went 35

and Lenzelle Smith Jr. 34. Deshaun Thomas played only 23 minutes

because of foul trouble.

”I think we caught a break when Deshaun got his third foul

early and fourth foul early,” Kansas coach Bill Self said.

The real trouble for the Buckeyes was getting no help from the

bench.

In their four wins leading to the Final Four, at least one

reserve scored nine or more points by himself. In the East Regional

win over top-seeded Syracuse, Thompson, Ravenel and Williams

combined for 20 points. That was 20 more than they managed against

Kansas.

The Buckeyes struggled from the field in the second half,

shooting 24.2 percent (8 for 33), a far cry from the 46.2 percent

(12 for 26) they shot in the first half. Ohio State’s 34-25

halftime lead was gone within the first 6 minutes of the second

half as the Buckeyes missed their first 10 shots.

”Our inability to put the ball in the basket there was

something that enabled them to gather momentum and get themselves

going,” Ohio State coach Thad Matta said.

While the reserves weren’t shooting at all, the stars were

missing – Sullinger going 5 of 19, Thomas 3 of 14 and Craft 4 of

11.

”We needed one more guy to put the ball in the basket,” Matta

said. ”I thought we had some good looks but they just didn’t go

down. You shoot 24 percent in the second half against a really good

team, it’s going to be hard to win it.”

Matta praised Thompson for his defense.

”Sam had the three blocks and did a very, very good job for us

on that end,” he said, adding that he felt he didn’t need his

bench as much because ”the first half, even the second half, we

burned some timeouts. We were kind of riding the guys and felt like

they had a pretty good feel for what was going on out there.”