Saturday, March 18, 2000


Reese gives Buckeyes big assists

The Cincinnati Enquirer

        NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Scoonie Penn got most of the attention Friday because he came out of his shooting slump. But as he has been doing much of the season, George Reese turned in another powerful game in the post for Ohio State.

        The 6-foot-7 senior forward from Columbus scored 19 points and had eight assists in Ohio State's 87-61 victory over Appalachian State in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. Reese had 11 first-half points as the Buckeyes grabbed control.

        Big scoring nights are becoming a habit for Reese. He scored 20 or more points five times this season, including games of 25 points and 22 points in the two games before Friday, and he has scored in double figures 11 straight games. He hit 5=of-9 shots Friday and has hit 24-of-34 in his last three games.

        “When we looked at their roster, we knew we had a sizeable advantage down low with Kenny (Johnson), me, Will (Dudley) and Cobe Ocokoljic,” Reese said. “We tried to take advantage, start inside-out. When they started rotating and double-teaming, that's when we started kicking it out to Scoonie and Mike (Redd).”

        That's what allowed Reese to collect eight assists, a number that caused coach Jim O'Brien to look bug-eyed at the statistics sheet when he read it.

Penn's triumph
        It was fitting; on the night Penn hit five of seven 3-pointers and busted loose from a season-long slump, he became Ohio State's career 3-point leader with 151, passing former teammate Neshaun Coleman, who set the mark with 147 last season. Redd bruised Redd bruised his right elbow when he fell on a drive to the basket late in the game. He had a bag of ice on it after the game, but he said he'd be OK by Sunday.

Foul trouble
        Johnson played well early, disrupting ASU with his defense in the post and scoring six of Ohio State's first 12 points. But he got in foul trouble and played just 22 minutes, which O'Brien says can't happen.

        “Our team changes dramatically when he's not in the game,” O'Brien said. “It's incumbent upon to keep him out of foul trouble. I don't think there's any big surprise that when he was in the game early, we extended the lead, and when he was not in the game, they had some chances they don't get if he's in the game.”

Small picture
        Ohio State is taking the NCAA Tournament two games at a time.

        Instead of viewing the tournament as a whole — needing to win six games to win it all — the Buckeyes see each quarter of the South Regional as a tournament unto itself. Four teams, two games at a time. The first was Friday night against No.14 seed Appalachian State, with either Miami or Arkansas looming as the second.

        It's the same strategy that helped get them to the Final Four last season.

        “We're trying to take the whole concept of 64 teams out,” O'Brien said. “... The focus is on trying to get out of here in beautiful Nashville and move on to Austin (for the Sweet 16). It's just all about moving on. If you start thinking about beating 64 teams to win, you go nutty.”

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