Jacy Sheldon leads Ohio State’s overthrow of Rocky Top

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There was electricity around Tuesday ohio state Buckeyes game before the clock even starts ticking. In the weeks leading up to the game, Ohio State pushed for its fans to come to the Schottenstein Center on Election Day, while Tennessee Volunteers orange stood out throughout the arena. There was pyrotechnics, a loud student section and a small part of the Best Damn Band in the Land to heighten the atmosphere. Once the game started, it was guard Jacy Sheldon who caught the collective attention.

The Vols started the match as planned, going to the hoop. Tennessee featured a starting roster that included transfer student Rickea Jackson who led the SEC in points per game last season, 6-foot-6 center Tamari Key in the paint and local high school star from the area of Columbus Jordan Horston leading the team under head coach Kellie Harper.

Tennessee struck first, earning four runs. Combine that with a rocky start for Scarlet and Gray, missing their first three shots and getting an early turnover and foul. In response, Center Schottenstein has been reduced to the cavernous multi-purpose arena that it is, instead of a sixth player in the stands. Entered a ruthless Sheldon.

Why ruthless? All night, Sheldon made the Vols regret every little mistake he could make.

Down four, Sheldon had two quick steals turned assists for Taylor Mikesell and Taylor Thierry. The first, Sheldon anticipating a pass from Jackson beyond the arc, creating a quick break. The second, the guard making even a simple inbound pass difficult for the visitors, quickly finding the exit to Mikesell. It was the start of a defensive performance that surprised everyone but Sheldon’s teammates.

“I’m used to Jacy being a defensive player,” Mikesell said after the 87-75 win. “I think we got used to playing together in our little press and then bringing Madison (Greene) back, it’s good to have three defensive players in defense. We had a lot of saves that helped us in our attack.

It wasn’t necessarily a surprise that Sheldon was strong defensively. After all, she was named to the All-Defensive B1G Team in 2021-22 in addition to her unanimous First Team All-B1G honor. The surprise was how Tennessee couldn’t stop him.

Sheldon reached his career high in the takeout on Tuesday, in the first half only. Then in the second, it doubled. Naismith’s watchlist player’s eight robberies happened in different ways. Apart from a few early passes, Sheldon dove to the ground, forced drops and ripped the ball off players seven to 12 inches wider.

There was no hesitation. Sheldon was laser focused on the pitch, which is nothing new. After scoring her 1,000th career point last year in another big win, over the Maryland Terrapins, Sheldon looked annoyed when the announcer shared her achievement with the crowd and pushed the attention away after the win. scoring 21/22. On Tuesday, she shifted the focus again.

After a team shooting 10% from deep and 39% overall in the first half, Mikesell scored 15 points in the third quarter and forward Rebeka Mikulášiková’s three draws sent decibel levels skyrocketing. . As each Buckeye began to find her shots, make timely blocks and frustrate the Vols, Sheldon quietly had eight points, four assists and four steals in the second half to maintain the strong foundation she built in first half.

Tuesday could have been a star player finding a new level to respond to an occasion or this season’s Sheldon is different.

“She’s playing so hard,” head coach Kevin McGuff said. “I don’t think people realize what a good athlete she is, she’s so quick on the court. She has a great first step. She just seemed to make opportune plays at both ends of the court.

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