WASHINGTON D.C—Well, this was definitely a 2016-2017 Ohio State basketball game.
It featured runs where Ohio State looked like a team capable of making a deep run in DC. It featured runs where Ohio State was outworked, out-hustled, and outplayed by a very bad Rutgers team. And it featured lots and lots of missed shots.
But in the end, thanks to an inability to convert at the stripe or pick up critical rebounds, Ohio State lost to Rutgers to open the Big Ten Tournament. And they’ll have to wait to see if their name is called during the NIT Selection Show on Sunday.
Ohio State jumped out to an early lead, leading 17-8 before a four minute scoring drought allowed Rutgers to come roaring back to take the lead, as the two teams would seesaw back and forth throughout the first half, with Ohio State taking a 32-29 lead into the break.
Rutgers only shot 34% from the floor, but were able to stay close thanks to a commanding edge on the glass (21-14), paced by C.J. Gettys, who flummoxed Trevor Thompson inside, grabbing seven boards himself.
But timely shooting from C.J Jackson and aggressive finishes inside by Jae’Sean Tate helped Ohio State build a slim margin that they’d maintain for a stretch in the game.
A familiar problem, free throw shooting, helped Rutgers continue to hang around, as the Buckeyes shot a woeful 15-28 from the stripe. A few quick threes after the break allowed Rutgers to build their biggest lead of the game, 39-33. The two sides would trade leads back and forth in the second half, but paced by a whopping 22 second chance points, the Scarlet Knights got just enough breathing room to hold off Ohio State, even though they went through long draughts without scoring themselves.
Though the Buckeyes had several chances to get the game within two or one, missed free throws continued to doom them and with little offensively to go around, the worst case scenario for the 2016-2017 Ohio State men’s basketball team came to fruition.
Three things we learned
- Maybe Ohio State shouldn’t take so many dang threes. Ohio State actually got a fair amount of decent looks from downtown, a product of strong ball movement, and defensive choices by Rutgers. But even though C.J Jackson has dramatically improved as a three point shooter over the last few games, the Buckeyes don’t have the personnel to really exploit this, leading to an inability to sustain leads. If the Buckeyes are left open from downtown again and again, it’s probably for a reason. Taking it inside may still be the best option.
- Maybe Ohio State should hit a free throw once in a while. The Buckeyes missed 13 free throws, and it’s not like Rutgers was constantly fouling Thompson and Bell. Poor free throw shooting has been a problem for the Buckeyes for years, and it has constantly hurt them in their ability to put squads away. Today, it cost them against an inferior team.
- Ohio State lost to Rutgers. In basketball. Let’s never speak of it again.