A day after the football season came to an unfortunate end, fans Ohio State can now focus all of their attention to a mens basketball team that currently finds itself ranked No. 2 in the country. It was a marquee matchup on Sunday afternoon, as the No. 2 Ohio State Buckeyes traveled to Cleveland to take on No. 22 West Virginia Mountaineers at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse (or The Q, if you're still not used to the new name).
Having already knocked off three top-10 opponents this season, Chris Holtmann and the gang were looking to put another ranked win under their belts as they closed out non-conference play against Bob Huggins and the Mountaineers.
Unfortunately, for the second time in as many days, a second-ranked Buckeye team lost. This time, they fell to WVU 67-59.
The game got off to a very slow start, as Ohio State opened with three straight turnovers and West Virginia opened with three straight offensive fouls before both teams got their first basket.
Kyle Young got the Buckeyes on the board first with a strong move inside on a nice pass from Luther Muhammad. Following a pull-up jumper by C.J. Walker, and a made free throw by Kaleb Wesson, OSU held a 5-2 lead heading into the first media timeout.
Walker was feeling himself early on, knocking down a three with a man in his face.
With the lid now off the basket, both teams began hitting with some consistency, and Wesson got his first shot from the floor to fall on this pretty step back.
Ohio State’s turnovers, of which they already had seven, were keeping the Mountaineers in the ballgame, but the Bucks were hitting with consistency from beyond the arc. Duane Washington drilled this wide open 3-pointer as OSU began 3-of-4 from deep.
The Buckeyes were getting their usual hard-nosed effort on both ends of the floor, showcased by this great hustle play by Young to secure not one but two offensive boards and secure the jump ball that kept possession at their end of the court.
Unfortunately for Ohio State, the shooting tapered off significantly as the Bucks missed seven straight shots from the field. Their nine turnovers were not helping the cause either, and following this three-ball by Chase Harler, it was WVU on top heading into another media timeout.
Fouls really began to mount for both teams as the refs really weren’t letting any contact go unnoticed. With just under five minute remaining in the first period, the two schools combined for 20 fouls.
Walker finally got the lid off the basket with an elbow jumper, as the game had devolved into a defense and free throw competition. Ohio State began 9-of-11 from the charity stripe, while WVU was 4-of-9.
Ohio State had a rebound advantage early on, and this E.J. Liddell offensive board led to an easy two for Muhammad from the edge of the paint.
The Buckeyes showcased impressive ball movement all season long, and the ability to make the extra pass — leading to this Washington 3-pointer — and improved performance at the defensive end had OSU on a bit of a run, extending their early lead to 32-25 with just under four minutes to go until the break.
Muhammad drilled another three-ball with the shot clock winding down, and Ohio State would wind up taking a 37-31 lead into halftime.
With both teams shooting near 40 percent in the opening period, fouls and turnovers were the name of the game. The Buckeyes already had 10 turnovers to go along with nine fouls, while WVU had eight turnovers and a whopping 14 fouls. Walker tied WVU’s Miles McBride to lead all scorers with 10 points apiece at the break.
The two offenses did not look vastly improved coming out of halftime, but this pretty behind-the-back dribble and feed to Wesson underneath led to an emphatic dunk as Ohio State led 40-34 heading into the first media timeout of the period.
Turnovers were once again becoming a massive issue for Ohio State, as five quick giveaways led to a 7-0 WVU run that put them back on top 41-40 with a lot of time left n the clock. The Buckeyes were not taking care of the basketball, and on top of that shots were just not falling.
Ending a scoring drought of over five minutes, D.J. Carton was able to knock down an uncontested three to put Ohio State back on top as the two teams looked to be locked in a battle that would come down to the wire.
The refs were really making the game hard to watch with foul calls on almost every single play. To make things worse, the Buckeyes had missed six of their last seven shots, and the Mountaineers had made 7-of-9. A 6-0 run from WVU had them up 52-47 with a little over eight minutes left.
If you wanted a visual of what the second half was looking like for Ohio State, it was a lot of this. The Buckeyes now had a whopping 18 turnovers, and could just not get out of their own way on the offensive end. OSU was keeping themselves alive at the foul line, as they had also missed their last six shots but hit 21-of-28 from the charity stripe. West Virginia, on the other hand, was just 7-of-17 from the line.
Finally Ohio State was able to get something to fall, as Andre Wesson chose a huge spot to hit his first shot of the game. Despite hitting just one of their last eight shots, the Bucks retook a 54-53 lead on the 3-pointer with a little under five minutes to go.
Whether it was good defense or just bad offense, the two teams had combined for 34 turnovers to this point. There were also 46 total personal foul calls.
Miles McBride put the dagger in OSU with a little over a minute remaining, as after WVU retook the lead by scoring a few points in a row at the line, he hit a floater that put the Mountaineers up for good. Kaleb Wesson would drill a 3-pointer on the Buckeyes’ next possession, but it would be too little too late.
West Virginia would go on to win 65-59, as Ohio State moved to 11-2 on the year. The Bucks will be back in action on Jan. 3, when they enter Big Ten play against Wisconsin in Columbus.