Ohio State had a tough afternoon against a hungry UConn Huskies team, who powered past the Buckeyes by a final score of 75-55.
The Huskies got off to a quick start, winning the jump ball and getting in two quick dunks, and a three from Rodney Purvis. All the while the UConn crowd was very loud and seemed to be fueling the energy of the Huskies, the Buckeyes were able to stick around, despite missing some good looks early. The Huskies led the Buckeyes 11-7 after the under-16 timeout.
The Buckeyes continued to struggle on the defensive end of the floor, and allowed the Huskies to get some easy baskets. The Huskies took a 27-18 lead after a Daniel Hamilton free throw, giving the Huskies their largest lead of the first half with under eight minutes remaining.
While it appeared that the Huskies had a chance to pull away, they helped the Buckeyes out with some sloppy play. JaQuan Lyle took a pair of three pointers that drew only the backboard, as his shooting woes continued. The Huskies extended their lead to 36-20 with 3:19 left in the half.
UConn finished out the first half in a much more dominant fashion, looking leaps and bounds better than the Buckeyes, They closed out with a 45-24 lead. Jae'Sean Tate led Buckeye scorers with seven points. JaQuan Lyle shot 0-for-6 from the field in the half. Omar Calhoun led the Huskies with 11 points, a perfect 3-of-3 from deep.
Ohio State came out with a different energy in the second half. UConn did not play with quite the same edge, and allowed Ohio State to come back in the game. The Buckeyes opened up an 11-2 run after the first six minutes and change of the second half. UConn made just one of their first 10 field goals, and Ohio State found themselves down 47-35.
Ohio State quickly saw their work from the 11-2 disappear after a 9-2 run from UConn, regaining a 56-37 lead at the under-8 timeout. After their 1-for-10 start to the half, the Huskies found their groove, making their next five baskets, and they took a 62-41 lead with six minutes remaining.
The Huskies stayed on fire, and made it eight consecutive made baskets, taking a 67-44 lead on Ohio State late in the second half. It just wasn't a great day for Ohio State basketball in any way, and the Huskies showed the same dominance they displayed in the first half in the latter end of the second, overpowering the Buckeyes in every way.
Jae'Sean Tate and Marc Loving led the Buckeyes with 15 and 14 points respectively. Daniel Giddens finished with seven points, six rebounds, and four steals off the bench.
Three things we learned:
1. The defense needs to remain sharp. The Buckeyes simply looked awful on defense. Early on in the game, UConn wasn't playing that much better than the Buckeyes, but the Buckeyes didn't make things very difficult for the Huskies on the offensive end. They had a bunch of open looks, and were dominating Ohio State in the paint. It seemed at times that players would just give up on certain plays on the defensive end.
The energy looked better in the second half, but the Buckeyes were still playing with their hands down, and often looked for help in defensive situations when it was absolutely not needed if the proper amount of effort was exerted. The Buckeyes were able to defend well against Air Force, but utilizing that end of the floor to create baskets against more talented teams will be crucial for the young Buckeyes moving forward.
2. JaQuan Lyle is in a funk. Simply put, Lyle did not play well in the first half at all. Lyle was 0-for-6 shooting in the first half, and had two consecutive three point shots draw nothing but the backboard. He had no assists on the half, and just looked lost out on the floor. We know what Lyle is capable of, and to watch him suffer is difficult, but there will be growing pains to work through with all of the freshmen on the team.
Lyle looked timid for much of the first half, but appeared more comfortable in the second half. It was the Buckeyes first true road game, and a big stage for the freshman from Evansville, who had his eyes on UConn in his recruiting process. The Buckeyes are going to need Lyle to be good if they hope to have any sort of success moving forward this season. Broadcasters love to mention D'Angelo Russell, but he's not an option for the Buckeyes, it's gotta be Lyle.
3. Ohio State played UConn at a bad time. The Huskies really brought it Saturday afternoon, and you could tell it from the opening tip. Their quick start really got the crowd into the game, and the body language of everybody on the floor expressed that they couldn't wait to get their hands on the ball, and that they were 100 percent committed to preventing their opposition from scoring. They had a fire in them, and nobody was going to stop them.
This largely stems from their 76-66 loss that they suffered Tuesday at the hands of Maryland. The Huskies were very much in that game, and looked like they might pull the upset until head coach Kevin Ollie was called for a technical for throwing papers off of the scorers table. The team was clearly ready to avenge that loss, and they took it all out on Ohio State.