Ohio State men’s basketball rebounded from their Virginia loss with a 70-62 victory Saturday over Fairleigh Dickinson.
Ohio State didn’t get off to a great start against the Knights Saturday afternoon. It took nearly four minutes before the Buckeyes finally got on the board thanks to Marc Loving, and the Buckeyes already had a trio of turnovers before the first media timeout.
The Buckeyes continued to trade baskets with the Knights through the under-12 timeout. Two more turnovers were committed by Thad Matta’s team. There wasn’t a whole lot of energy there for the Buckeyes, and the Knights kept taking advantage of the turnovers. It wasn’t limited to just one player, either. The turnovers were spread across the team, and guys just weren’t into the game.
Ohio State saw an uptick in energy, but it was matched by the Knights. Both teams started chucking threes towards the end of the first half, and the Buckeyes were never able to stretch a lead out. At halftime, it was 33-32 in Ohio State’s favor.
The Buckeyes started off the second half on a 7-0 run to make it a 40-32 game. Marc Loving had a powerful dunk and a foul for the old fashioned three-point play to punctuate the run.
It continued thanks to great defense by the Buckeyes, and their second half run continued, and it was a joy to watch in comparison to a sluggish first half. The Buckeyes stretched out their run to 18-2, building a 51-34 lead within the first five minutes and change of the second half.
Fairleigh Dickinson would put a stop to the Buckeye run, and trade baskets with them in the middle of the second half. They didn’t quite have the luxury of Ohio State turning it over the way that they did in the first half, and you could see the effect it had on both squads. The Buckeyes were up 55-41 going into the under-12 timeout.
The Knights would further trim the deficit to 57-48, forcing Matta to call a timeout and get his team back into things. Ohio State would make some great, tough baskets down the stretch but never really put a dagger into Fairleigh Dickinson. Despite this, Ohio State came away with the victory.
Tate and Thompson both had double-doubles, with Tate scoring 12 points and grabbing 12 boards, and Thompson having 10 points and 13 rebounds. Loving and Williams finished with 18 and 17 points respectively for Ohio State.
3 things we learned
1. Turnovers must stop. Ohio State would very likely be undefeated if this wasn’t such a huge issue. It was one of the primary reasons for their loss to Virginia earlier this week, and it kept Fairleigh Dickinson in this game for the first half, as they got 12 of their 32 points off of turnovers. It hurts the flow to the game for the Buckeyes, and their confidence gets shot early.
The Buckeyes stopped turning it over so much in the beginning of second half, and it led to a, 18-2 run and a 17-point lead. Ohio State played better defense as well, and they were able to get a lot of easy shots, and played with so much more confidence. When they’re able to piece runs together like that, they look like an entirely different team. The only thing is to keep it consistent, and games will become more pleasurable for everyone.
2. The Buckeyes play up or down to the competition. Ohio State has talent. It may not have the talent that some of the top teams in college basketball have, but it shouldn’t play a close game at any point with a team like the Knights. It seemed that Thad Matta’s team came out flat, knowing very well who they were playing. That totally happens, and it would be unrealistic to not expect it from a team full of college kids.
They eventually got right in the second half, but the Bucks won’t be able to sleepwalk in other non-conference games, and eventually in Big Ten play. The good news is here, if they’re able to really play up to the competition, we should have some exciting games moving forward. Because if not, things could get ugly very quick for these guys. They’ve got the talent to compete, but again, consistency is going to have to be found if they want to make an NCAA Tournament push.
3. Jae’Sean Tate is good at adjusting to what his team needs. Tate really is the ultimate team player. Early, Tate wasn’t looking for many looks on offense, and that’s because he really just couldn’t. The Buckeyes weren’t going through the offense early, just pretty much going with whatever, and so Tate was crashing the boards. It helped keep them afloat in the first half after a pretty bad performance.
In the second half, particularly early, he got involved on the offense end. Tate had eight points during the Buckeyes run in the second half upon getting separation from the Knights, and was 4-of-5 on those attempts. Trevor Thompson made up the rebounding efforts in the second half, and it was a pretty good recipe for the Buckeyes moving forward.