Ohio State returns to the hardwood tonight and will try and regroup following Friday night's 73-68 loss to UT Arlington, which snapped the Buckeyes' 62-game winning streak against unranked non-conference opponents. The last time Ohio State had lost a home game to an unranked non-conference opponent came back in December 2008, when the Buckeyes fell to West Virginia at Value City Arena. In his 12th season as Ohio State head coach, Thad Matta now has a 107-2 record at home against unranked non-conference opponents.
Ohio State looked like a team that is lacking when it comes to veteran leadership on Friday night, as turnovers and poor free throw shooting did the Buckeyes in against UT Arlington. Ohio State turned the ball over 13 times in the loss, and for the season is averaging 16 turnovers per game. The performance of the Buckeyes from the free throw line was abysmal, with Ohio State hitting only 13 of their 27 foul shots.
The critical sequence in Friday night's game came with 9:05 left in the second half. Ohio State had cut UT Arlington's lead to 50-46 before Jae'Sean Tate was called for a foul and immediately after Daniel Giddens was called for a technical foul. This allowed UT Arlington's Kevin Hervey to make four free throws to increase the Mavericks' lead to 54-46. The closest Ohio State would get the rest of the way came with just 13 seconds left in the game, when a Keita Bates-Diop three-pointer closed the gap to 70-66.
The few returning players Ohio State does have on their roster have been making the most of Thad Matta's added trust in them. Junior Marc Loving is pacing Ohio State with 13.7 points per game, while Bates-Diop is right behind him with 13.3 points per game. Jae'Sean Tate is the only other Ohio State player averaging double figures in scoring, as the sophomore has pitched in 10.7 points per game to go along with his team-leading 7.7 rebounds per game.
Now Ohio State will host a Louisiana Tech team that is off to their first 3-0 start start since 1998. Tonight's game makrs the third overall meeting between the schools, but the first since 1986, when Ohio State beat the Bulldogs 79-66 in the NIT Semifinals. The previous season the result was a little different when the schools squared off, with the fifth-seeded Bulldogs toppling the fourth-seeded Buckeyes 79-67 in the Round of 32 matchup in the 1985 NCAA Tournament.
The last time Louisiana Tech made the NCAA Tournament was back in 1991, but they have been very close to making the big dance the last three seasons. In 2012-13, Louisiana Tech won the WAC regular season crown but was bounced in the Quarterfinals of the conference tournament, causing them to miss out on the automatic bid. After moving to Conference USA prior to the 2013-14 season, Louisiana Tech was the top-seed heading into the conference tournament before losing to Tulsa in the Championship Game, and last year they were again top-seeded before losing the Semifinals.
The outstanding play from Louisiana Tech the last four season caught the attention of the Florida Gators, who hired Mike White as their head coach following the departure of Billy Donovan to the NBA. White posted a 101-40 record in his four seasons in Ruston, with the Bulldogs earning trips to the NIT in each of the last three seasons. In the past two seasons Louisiana Tech made the NIT Quarterfinals before losing. To replace White, Louisiana Tech hired Eric Konkol, who spent the previous four seasons as an assistant for Miami.
Since they are also included in the Basketball Hall of Fame Invitational, two of Louisiana Tech's first three opponents have been teams that Ohio State has also played this year. Last Tuesday the Bulldogs defeated UT Arlington 80-68 in Ruston before making the short road trip to face Grambling State on Saturday, who they dispatched 86-67. The Bulldogs gained some reinforcements last game, as Jacobi Boykins, Leantwan Luckett, and Joniah White all made their season debut after missing the first two games.
Numbers to know
One of the reasons Ohio State lost on Friday night could have been because they didn't have a player record a double-double. In school history there has been 866 games where at least one Buckeye recorded a double-double and in those games Ohio State is 603-263. The only game this year in which a Buckeye has recorded a double-double came in the season opener, when both Marc Loving and Keita Bates-Diop did so.
Freshman Daniel Giddens blocked six shots against UT Arlington on Friday night, which tied him for fourth in history for Ohio State freshmen in a game. Giddens has nine of Ohio State's 20 blocks so far this season. The eight blocks Herb Williams recorded in 1978 against Iowa is the record for most blocks by an Ohio State freshman in a game.
Through three games Louisiana Tech has forced opponents into an average of 17.7 turnovers per game. This is nothing new for the Bulldogs as since the start of the 2011-12 season they have forced opponents into at least 15.1 turnovers per game. With the turnovers issues Ohio State has had early in the season, Louisiana Tech has to be excited to try and turn up the pressure against the Buckeyes.
Cast of characters
The talented freshman has started all three games at point guard for Ohio State this season, and looks to be getting better with each game. After scoring 12 points in his Ohio State debut against Mount St. Mary's, Lyle was held to just 2 points against Grambling State, but made up for it with seven assists. Lyle found his stroke in the loss on Friday night, scoring a career-high 15 points to go along with eight assists and six rebounds. Ohio State will need Lyle to be smart with the basketball as they go up against a veteran Louisiana Tech squad.
The junior has been strong so far this season, scoring in double figures in each of Ohio State's first three games. Loving needs just four points to reach 500 points for his Ohio State career and needs just five rebounds to reach 200 rebounds in his career. Three of the four field goals Loving made in the loss to UT Arlington were from beyond the arc, and through three games Loving is shooting 38% from three-point range.
The Louisiana Tech senior is the leader of the team, and has started the last 78 games for the Bulldogs. During his career in Ruston, Hamilton has scored 1,374 points, which puts him 23rd on the all-time Louisiana Tech scoring list. Hamilton barely missed out on a double-double last time out against Grambling State, dishing out nine assists to go along with his 13 points. The last three years Hamilton has averaged at least 14 points per game for the Bulldogs.
The freshman guard from Miami has impressed so far in his young career with the Bulldogs, coming off the bench in each game and scoring in double figures. Jean has helped to put pressure on opponents and has registered at least two steals in each of the three contest he has played in. Last game Jean started to find his rhythm from long range, hitting three three-pointers on his way to 11 points in the win over Grambling State.
How to watch
Game time: 8:00 p.m. ET
Radio: 97.1 The Fan
TV: Big Ten Network