MILWAUKEE -- Some halftime thoughts as Ohio State fights off the pesky Gauchos and goes into the half with a 30-17 lead:
I'm not just being polite: UC Santa Barbara is pesky. Before Ohio State built an early 13-3 lead, I tweeted that tonight's late game had the look of a blowout. Sometimes the little guys look game. Sometimes the mid-major has the sort of size and athleticism you see at any major school. Sometimes the talent difference is just too blatant to ignore. And no sooner than I announced that to the world than the Gauchos put on a run of their own, cutting the lead to 13-12 and getting the entire Bradley Center crowd -- well, except for the OSU section -- on its feet. Ohio State soon got its bearings; Jon Diebler hit a few wide-open 3-pointers, Dallas Lauderdale swatted a few Gauchos chances, and the lead was right back to 27-13 at the 3:32 mark. But for a minute there, the upset looked not only possible, but plausible.
Oh, and note to the Gauchos: Don't leave Diebler open. Ever. Surely the scouting report had something like this in there. (Diebler is 4-of-6 from behind the arc thus far.)
Evan Turner is the best player in this pod, but he isn't playing like it tonight: The Villian is 1-for-6 from the field with five points (though he does have six rebounds, which is proof that you can never really stop The Villian, even when you are). Thus far, Turner seems a little too content to settle for his jump shot, which is undoubtedly the weakest part of his game.
UCSB's band is dressed in full Gaucho attire, complete with gaucho hat, blue-and-gold poncho, and even the occasional thick-bristle mustache. It can't be the most comfortable garb; gauchos off to the band (see what I did there?) for the dedication.
Among the things I mentally checked off on the UCSB scouting report: Greg Somogyi, the Gauchos' 7-foot-2 reserve center who towers over the Buckeyes, including big man Dallas Lauderdale. Somogyi is clearly a 7-foot-2 center at a place like UCSB for a reason -- he's paper-thin and struggles to hold his position on offense. But there's no question he's affected several of the Buckeyes' shots on the defensive end.