In a hotly contested matchup, No. 16 Ohio State lost their first game of the year, a 72-62 defeat at the hands of Syracuse as part of the Big Ten/ACC Challenge. The loss moves the Buckeyes to 6-1 on the year.
After moving to St. John Arena for their last contest, a 89-62 win over Cleveland State, OSU returned to Value City Arena, where they were unable to take care of business for the first time this season.
Jim Boeheim’s squad punished Ohio State from deep, knocking down 11 three-pointers in the contest. The Orange were led by Tyus Battle, who dropped 20 points on 6-of-10 shooting from the field. Elijah Hughes added 18 of his own, including four makes from deep.
Ohio State was paced by C.J. Jackson, whose 19 points was not enough to overcome the stifling Syracuse zone defense. Kyle Young added 12 points of his own, while Kaleb Wesson had 13 points on just 1-of-8 shooting, also grabbing eight rebounds.
The game featured a special presentation at halftime, as Ohio State honored former head coach Thad Matta, the winningest coach in Buckeye hoops history, with he and his family taking the floor to rousing applause. A banner was unveiled recognizing all of his accomplishments on the court from 2005-17.
The Ohio State Hoops Twitter account put out a tribute video with former players congratulating Matta for all that he was able to accomplish in his years as the face of OSU basketball.
Ohio State got on the board first, controlling the tip before getting an easy baseline jumper from Andre Wesson. After a foul on the other end led to two made free throws from Tyus Battle, it was 2-2 in the game’s opening minute.
The Buckeye faithful had reason to cheer early on, as OSU got out to a 7-0 run sparked by an alley-oop dunk by Kyle Young. After a Kaleb Wesson jumper and a C.J. Jackson three pointer, Oshae Brissett nailed a three of his own to put an end to the run with the Bucks up 9-5 through three minutes of play.
At the first media timeout, Ohio State was out-rebounding the Orange eight to one, including five offensive boards, leading to a number of extra possessions against the oft-pesky Syracuse zone. However, after starting the game 4-of-4 from the field, the Buckeyes missed their next six shots.
Luther Muhammad put an end to the cold stretch with a three-pointer out of the media timeout. Andre Wesson continued to pick apart the zone, hitting back-to-back jumpers from midrange in between a couple of ‘Cuse baskets to give Ohio State a 16-9 lead with just over 12 minutes remaining.
After a number of empty possessions by the Orange, Jim Boeheim’s squad got a big contested three-pointer from Elijah Hughes. It was a bit of time before either team put points on the board, but when they did it was Syracuse again, with Battle getting a floater to go to cut the Buckeyes’ lead to 16-14 with 9:28 remaining in the first period.
Marek Dolezaj got things tied up at 17 apiece with a wide open three pointer following a Kyle Young free throw. At the under-8 media timeout, Ohio State’s bench players had yet to register a point.
The Syracuse defense put the Buckeyes into a cold spell, but Jackson was able to break through with a make from three-point land. Dolezaj would answer with a three of his own on the other end, and the two teams remained locked in a tie, 21-21 with six minutes to go in the half.
The Orange took their first lead of the night after another three from Hughes. Following a stretch of nearly nine minutes with only a single field goal, Ohio State would turn things around, and after two free throws from Kaleb Wesson and a deep three from Duane Washington Jr., the Bucks regained the lead, 26-24 with 4:04 remaining in the period.
Frank Howard knocked down yet another three-pointer for Syracuse, who had hit 6-of-12 from behind the arc as a unit, to put his team back up by one. However, with ‘Cuse in foul trouble, the Buckeyes would close out the half with five-straight free throws from Jackson. After a layup by Battle in the final seconds of the period, the Scarlet and Gray headed into the break up 31-29.
Through the first 20 minutes, the two teams played a close back-and-forth contest. The biggest advantage for Ohio State came at the charity stripe, where they had 14 attempts to Syracuse’s four. Jackson led all scorers with 11, going 5-of-8 from the line.
Syracuse opened up the scoring in the second period, with Brissett hitting a layup in the first 10 seconds. The Orange seemed to have most of the momentum early on as the zone began to tighten and the Buckeyes could not seem to find the nylon. After a pair of free throws from Kyle Young, Syracuse was on a 8-0 run.
Ohio State put an end to that with a layup from Young, finally getting the lid off the basket in the second half. However, after another pair of free throws from Brissett, it was the Orange with a 40-36 lead with 15:32 remaining.
Keyshawn Woods got the crowd back into the game with a contested three, and after a layup by Young, Ohio State had tied the game up at 41. After holding Cuse without a field goal for seven straight possessions, the Buckeyes regained the lead on a pair of free throws from Kaleb Wesson.
After some scoring back-and-forth, Syracuse got a big and-one dunk from Hughes to go back up by four. Ohio State then began to crumble, as Hughes knocked down a three-pointer to give the Orange a 52-45 lead with a little over 10 minutes to go.
The Cuse zone began to overwhelm the Buckeyes, as missed shot after missed shot seemingly sucked the life out of both the team and the crowd. With just under eight minutes remaining in the game, Syracuse held a 55-45 lead on the strength of an 11-0 run.
Ohio State could not get the offense going in the second half, shooting a paltry 3-of-16 in the first 14 minutes of the period. A jolt of life would return to the Bucks, however, as Woods knocked down a three as Kaleb Wesson was fouled underneath. The basket and ensuing 1-of-2 at the line by Wesson cut the Syracuse lead to 59-52 with 5:47 remaining.
The Buckeyes would not be able to capitalize on the momentum, as Syracuse would rip off five quick points capped by a three from Battle that felt like the dagger. OSU kept fighting back, able to cut the Orange lead to 64-58 with 2:56 remaining.
However, they just could not get shots to fall down the stretch, as Cuse would come away with a 72-62 victory.
Ohio State will have to regroup for Sunday night when they open up Big Ten play at home against Minnesota. The game will start at 7 p.m. ET and will be broadcast on BTN.