It was evident from the very beginning that American University wasn't going to just roll over to Ohio State on Wednesday night. It has always been the M.O. of Patriot League teams to be a thorn in the side of big time programs thanks to disciplined play and timely shooting and the Eagles got both of those in Columbus. Unfortunately, as is often the case, Ohio State put it together and pulled away from American for a 63-52 win.
Jesse Reed and Tony Wroblicky led the way for the Eagles, scoring 15 and 14 points, respectively. Wroblicky was particularly impressive as he got some of his best work done against Amir Williams in the first half before sitting down with foul trouble. By game's end, the American center had grabbed seven rebounds, four blocks and three steals to cap off what could be his coming out party.
The commentators, which included former Michigan player Jimmy Jackson, mentioned on several occasions how much of a headache he must be for Patriot League foes given the performance he had against Williams on Wednesday. If he keeps stuffing the stat sheet like he did against OSU, it isn't too hard to imagine him competing with Holy Cross' Dave Dudzinski for the front court spots come All-Conference selection time -- although his nine turnovers tonight has to an aberration for that to become a reality.
In games like this, the game remains close as long as the underdog is taking care of the ball and connecting on their open looks (see: Villanova vs Georgetown, 1985). American got half of that equation right, making 45.7 percent from the field, but failed miserably on the other half. The Buckeyes came away with 18 steals, forcing 27 American turnovers, with Aaron Craft serving as the (predictable) catalyst of Thad Matta's defense. Craft had eight steals to go with solid defense on the Eagles' guards.
By game's end, Ohio State had a +14 turnover differential. That's a recipe for success.
American made some noise tonight, however, likely forcing many basketball fans to dive into their cable catalogs to find out what channel the Big Ten Network was coming in on. Ohio State is more athletic than anything the Eagles will see in Patriot League play and if they can hang with a team like that, it bodes well for them moving forward. It's not a win, but it's not a complete failure.