Capitals

Thomas' hot streak carries No. 4 Ohio State, 82-60

201211111411510768018-p2.jpeg

Thomas' hot streak carries No. 4 Ohio State, 82-60

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) Deshaun Thomas scored 13 of his 19 points in a 17-2 run to end the half, leading No. 4 Ohio State to an 82-60 victory over Albany on Sunday in the Buckeyes' belated season opener.

They were supposed to play on Friday night against Marquette in Charleston, S.C., aboard the USS Yorktown but condensation on the court led to that game being canceled.

Thomas, one of the stars of the Buckeyes' Final Four run last season, hit just one of his first six shots and Ohio State trailed 23-22 late in half. But he asserted himself as the Buckeyes took control.

Aaron Craft had a career-high 20 points to lead the Buckeyes with Lenzelle Smith Jr. adding 18 and LaQuinton Ross 10.

Mike Black had 20 and Jacob Iati 13 for Albany (1-1).

Craft, considered an outside-shooting liability a year ago, hit 5 of 7 3-pointers to go with seven assists. His previous highest scoring total was 19.

Smith was 8 of 11 from the field, making both 3s he attempted.

The Buckeyes shot 57 percent from the field (32 of 56) and made 12 of 20 shots behind the arc.

Smith gave Ohio State a 39-25 lead at the halftime buzzer by swishing a 3-pointer from the right wing off an assist pass from Craft.

Over the last 4:46 of the half during the Ohio State run, the Buckeyes hit 6 of 8 shots from the field to Albany's 0 for 4, didn't have a turnover and outrebounded the Great Danes 6-2.

Ohio State then opened the second half by scoring eight of the first 10 points to open up a 20-point lead.

Craft and Ross hit 3s to make it 55-33. The lead hovered around 20 the rest of the game.

Sophomore forward Sam Thompson and center Evan Ravenel - the Buckeyes' only senior - started. In Ohio State's only public scrimmage against Walsh, offensive whiz Ross had gotten the starting nod along with 6-foot-11 fellow sophomore Amir Williams. Both saw substantial playing time off the bench.

The Buckeyes wore the same camouflage gray uniforms with scarlet letters they were supposed to wear on the warship.

The contest was a first-round game in the Basketball Hall of Fame Tip-Off Tournament. The Buckeyes play subsequent games on Nov. 17-18 in Uncasville, Conn., against Rhode Island and either Washington or Seton Hall, in addition to a home game on Nov. 23 against Missouri-Kansas City.

Albany plays at Washington on Tuesday night.

The Buckeyes are coming off a trip to the Final Four, going 31-8 while winning a share of the Big Ten's regular-season title. Gone from that team is two-time All-America center Jared Sullinger, now starting for the Boston Celtics, and William Buford, who finished his career tied with Jerry Lucas as the third-leading career scorer at Ohio State.

After Marquette and Ohio State had warmed up on Friday night and the game was about to start, it was called off due to moisture on the floor which could have caused injuries. The Buckeyes ended up signing autographs before flying home to get ready for Sunday's game.

Thad Matta improved to 13-0 in openers as a head coach, winning his only one at Butler while going 3-0 at Xavier and now 9-0 at Ohio State.

---

Follow Rusty Miller on Twitter:http://www.twitter.com/rustymillerap

Quick Links

Stanley Cup Final 2018: Players to watch

Stanley Cup Final 2018: Players to watch

It doesn't take an expert to tell you players like Alex Ovechkin or Marc-Andre Fleury will play a big role in the Stanley Cup Final.

Both the Washington Capitals and Vegas Golden Knights will need their best players to be at their best to take home the Cup. But who will be the unexpected heroes? Who are the players no one is talking about who will have a big hand in their team's success or defeat in this series?

Here are five players you should be watching in the Stanley Cup:

1. Devante Smith-Pelly: Smith-Pelly had seven goals in 79 games in the regular season. Now he has four goals in just 19 playoff games.

Smith-Pelly has been one of those unlikely playoff heroes for the Caps this postseason with very timely performances such as scoring the series-clinching goal in Game 6 against the Columbus Blue and scoring the goal that put the game away in Game 6 against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

The physical play has really stood out as well for him, which fits well on the fourth line role he has settled back into now that the team is healthy again. Barry Trotz tried moving him to the top line in the absence of Tom Wilson and the results weren't great. He is best suited for the role he currently has and that will allow him to thrive.

2. James Neal: Neal came up just short of the Stanley Cup last season as a member of the Nashville Predators. He totaled nine points in 22 games during that run, a number he has already matched in just 15 games this postseason.

There are very few players on either team that boast the kind of postseason experience Neal has. He will be leaned upon this series for his leadership.

Vegas is a young team and their unprecedented success in the playoffs may make this feel like the first run of many for the Golden Knights, but not for Neal who is on the last year of his contract and came tantalizingly close to the Cup last season. He will play like there is no tomorrow because, for him, there may not be in Vegas.

3. Andre Burakovsky: Burakovsky was one of the heroes of Game 7 with two goals to put away the Tampa Bay Lightning. That marked just the latest peak in a career full of peaks and valleys for the young winger. Just two games before, Burakovsky was a healthy scratch and spoke to the media about his plans to speak with a sports psychologist in the offseason.

The talent is there and it certainly appears that the injury that kept him out earlier in the playoffs is largely behind him. Burakovsky’s issues have always been mainly between the ears. In a series against a fast team with strong depth, he can be an absolutely critical piece for the Caps. Hopefully, his Game 7 performance gave him the confidence he needs to continue to be effective.

4. Ryan Reaves: Vegas acquired both Reaves and Tomas Tatar around the trade deadline. If I were to tell you that through three rounds of the playoffs, both players were healthy, had played the same number of games (6) and had the same number of points (1), you’d think I was crazy. Yet, here we are.

Reaves was largely an afterthought in a complicated trade between Vegas, the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Ottawa Senators, but he has carved a nice role for himself on the Golden Knights’ fourth line and even scored the goal that sent Vegas to the Stanley Cup Final against the Winnipeg Jets.

Reaves is also an agitator on the ice, but what do the Caps do against a player like that when their normal fighter plays on the top line? We may see Reaves and Wilson come to blows this series, but it won't be very often because that is a bad tradeoff for the Caps.

5. Brooks Orpik: The elder statesman of the blue line, Orpik is the only player on the Caps with a Stanley Cup to his name and is the only one who has any idea what this experience is going to be like for the team.

Orpik is very diligent about keeping in shape which has allowed him to play in 81 games this season and all 19 playoff games despite being 37 years old, but you do have to wonder how much is left in the tank. Despite being the favorite whipping boy for the proponents of analytics, his physical play has been effective this postseason. The focus he placed on the skating in the offseason has paid dividends so far in matchups against the speedy Pittsburgh Penguins and Tampa Bay Lightning, but the Golden Knights will be the fastest team they have played yet. There is no denying Orpik is much more suited towards a physical style of game. Wil he continue to be effective or will Vegas exploit the Caps' third defensive pairing?

MORE CAPITALS PLAYOFF NEWS:

Quick Links

Capitals vs. Golden Knights Game 1 Stanley Cup Final: Date, Time, TV Channel, Livestrem

ap_18146636573129.jpg
AP Images

Capitals vs. Golden Knights Game 1 Stanley Cup Final: Date, Time, TV Channel, Livestrem

The wait is finally over. 

After two decades, the Capitals are back in the Stanley Cup Final. 

After a convincing 4-0 win in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals, the Capitals are in Vegas to take on the Golden Knights. They'll be facing off against a handful of familiar names, with former Caps GM George McPhee, fan favorite Nate Schmidt, and ex-Penguins goalie Marc Andre-Fluery are just a few of the names that'll be suiting up for Vegas. 

What will the X-factors in the series be? Who will be the unexpected heroes of Game 1? The action is almost underway, and here are all the details you need to know.

Game 1 Capitals at Golden Knights
Date: Monday, May 28
Time: 8:00 p.m. ET
Location: T-Mobile Arena, Las Vegas, NV.
TV Channel: NBCSN 
How To Watch Live StreamingNBC Sports App Live Stream
Radio: Capitals Radio Network (106.7 FM)

WHEN IS GAME 1 OF THE CAPITALS-GOLDEN KNIGHTS SERIES?

Game 1 of the Capitals-Golden Knights 2018 NHL Stanley Cup Final takes place on Monday, May 28 at 8:00 p.m. at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, NV.

WHAT TV CHANNEL IS GAME 1 OF THE CAPITALS-GOLDEN KNIGHTS SERIES ON?

The TV broadcast of Game 1 between the Capitals and Golden Knights is on NBC. Capitals pre- and postgame coverage takes place on NBC Sports Washington. (NBC Sports Washington channel Finder)

5:00 p.m. — Caps Cup Preview
6:00 p.m. — Caps GameDay Live
6:30 p.m. — Caps Face Off
7:00 p.m. — Caps GameTime
8:00 p.m. — Game 1 Capitals vs. Golden Knights
10:30 p.m. — Caps Extra
11:30 p.m. — Caps Overtime

WHERE CAN I STREAM CAPITALS vs. GOLDEN KNIGHTS GAME 1?

Game 1 of the 2018 Stanley Cup Final between the Capitals and Golden Knights is available for online stream on the NBC Sports App. Click here for the NBC Sports live stream page.

CAPITALS vs. GOLDEN KNIGHTS GAME 1 OPEN THREAD

Use the comment section below to discuss the game action with other Capitals fans. 

For all the latest Caps coverage, follow Capitals Insider Tarik El-Bashir, Capitals digital producer JJ Regan and the NBC Sports Capitals account on Twitter. Be sure check out our Capitals page and NBC Sports Washington's Facebook page.