Big Ten Acc Challenge 2011 – As Deshaun Thomas exited the postgame press conference that followed No. 2 Ohio State’s 85-63 victory over Duke on Tuesday night, NBA stars LeBron James and Dwyane Wade escaped Value City Arena through a nearby loading dock.
The duo watched Thomas and Co. destroy the fourth-ranked Blue Devils in the most marquee matchup of this year’s Big Ten/ACC Challenge. When James and Wade arrived, photographers scurried like paparazzi on a red carpet.
“I saw them,” said Thomas, who scored 18 points. “It was great motivation to show off for them because they show off for us all the time on TV.”
The Buckeyes put together the most defining performance of the 2011-12 season and legitimized all the “Ohio State is the best team in America right now” kudos that will follow.
OSU nailed a ridiculous 59 percent of its shots, a mere 57 percent from beyond the arc. Duke freshman Austin Rivers scored 22 points, but threw away about a half-dozen opportunities because OSU wouldn’t let him finish at the rim.
Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said the fatigue from last week’s trip to Hawaii played a role in the Blue Devils’ struggles.
“I thought Ohio State played a great game against us. They were a fresher team,” he said. “I thought our team played tired.”
Ohio State is as balanced as any team in the country. And with a stud point guard, a consistent wing (William Buford scored 20 points) and a big man like Sullinger, the Buckeyes appear to be as well-equipped for March Madness as any squad in the country.