3-Pointer: Ohio State 83, Walsh 71


COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Quick hitters from Ohio State's exhibition win Tuesday night over Walsh at Value City Arena:

For starters: Thad Matta did plenty of tinkering with the rotation, and he didn't even stick with the same first unit for both halves of the exhibition against Walsh.

But the Buckeyes coach had to send out a starting five, and the group included one mild surprise: LaQuinton Ross got the nod over Sam Thompson. The sophomore forward was solid on both ends of the floor and finished with 13 points and 5 rebounds in 21 minutes of action, while Thompson was effective as well, with 11 points and 4 assists -- and he wound up with more playing time.

The rest of the group pretty much debuted as expected, with Deshaun Thomas at the other forward spot, Amir Williams in the post and Aaron Craft and Lenzelle Smith in the backcourt.

Block party: An emphasis on erasing or altering more shots in the paint is already starting to pay dividends for the athletic Buckeyes, particularly with the freedom Williams has to rotate over and swat away anything he can reach.

Williams got a hand on five attempts overall against Walsh, and the Buckeyes collectively racked up 12 blocks against a team that actually had a decent amount of size. Matta wasn't all that pleased overall with the defensive effort, and Walsh shot better than 48 percent from the field, but it's still early and the athleticism the Buckeyes flashed should dramatically increase their average of 3.2 blocks per game from a year ago.

Welcome back: Thomas is going to face much stiffer competition, obviously. And the focal point of the Ohio State offense is ultimately going to start drawing extra attention from opposing defenses when the games start counting.

But he made scoring look effortless in his first live, public action of the year since electing to return for another season, cruising to 25 points seemingly without ever having to turn his game up to its highest gear. Thomas was particularly effective finishing at the rim and absorbing contact, and he was efficient at the free-throw line when he got there, knocking down 6 of his 7 attempts.