Ohio State had a pretty good recovery game Thursday night against Purdue, after suffering one of the worst losses in the school's history this past weekend against Maryland.
The Buckeyes didn't play a complete team game. Players that you would figure would have to play well in a big game against a ranked opponent didn't, and the Buckeyes still kept it close. That's a pretty good sign for this team, considering their youth and inexperience.
Coming into the season, we really had no idea how things would shake out. We had a few indications of what we would see from returning players in Marc Loving, Keita Bates-Diop, Kam Williams, and Trevor Thompson. But as far as the potential of the freshmen, that was another story.
But as a unit, the Bucks haven't been able to piece together consecutive consistent performances. But that isn't totally surprising, and shouldn't be a big knock on this team.
We have seen flashes from JaQuan Lyle, Daniel Giddens, and A.J. Harris. But it never seems to come together on the same night for all three, or any other the other key players on the team. Against Purdue, A.J. Harris and and Kam Williams kept the Buckeyes in the game with a combined 21 points off the bench in the first half, while Marc Loving, JaQuan Lyle, and Keita Bates-Diop combined for just two first half points.
In the second half, Harris and Williams couldn't keep up the same production, with Harris scoring four, and Williams absent. Loving came up with seven points in the half, and Tate brought in eight, but the lack of offensive power led to the Buckeyes losing their lead, and eventually the game. We've seen that before. It wasn't quite nearly as bad Thursday, but it still cost them the game.
The youth of the team would explain why there is so much inconsistency, but they have improved as the year has gone on. Just about each one of the aforementioned players has won the team a game at one point or another during the season. Some games it has come in pairs, others a few. They have a variety of talents, talents that are still being developed into their final form.
But it might speak to how great Thad Matta is that this young group has responded so well after losses this season, especially after such a brutal loss at Maryland. To come back, and lead for more than a half of game time in a big conference matchup against Purdue is a nice way to come back from what you would believe to be such a mentally draining loss. They're learning the college game, and how to handle certain situations, and those are big takeaways from this season in which expectations weren't exactly high.
All season the Buckeyes have been fueled by great offensive performances. If they're able to figure out consistency on that side of the ball, some of these close games will fall in their favor. While we aren't used to seeing teams like this in the Thad Matta era, there is hope, and a lot of teams in similar situations around the country can't say the same.