There has obviously been a lot of criticism surround the Ohio State men’s basketball team — and rightfully so. They have been struggling majorly ever since the calendar flipped to 2023. A lot of their losses have been ugly, and there really hasn’t been any reasons to have hope for improvement.
However, after Thursday’s loss to Northwestern, there were a few things that I was happy to see.
Rebounding has been one of the major issues that has plagued the team all season long. The Buckeyes started the new campaign hot, only being out-rebounded in three of their first 13 games of the year. They lost each of those three games. Then, once the terrible, horrible, no good month of January came, it’s like they forgot how to rebound.
Ohio State was out-rebounded in five of their eight games in January. And for the majority of those games, it was by a double-digit margin. Very ugly. However, Thursday against the Wildcats, the script was flipped. The Buckeyes had 35 rebounds versus Northwestern’s 24. This was a major key in keeping the game close.
25 of those rebounds were on the defensive end, which was so refreshing to see. Sometimes it seems like the Buckeyes are not putting their full-out effort on defense. This game, they were very aggressive under the bucket, and their efforts were rewarded.
Zed Key led the team with 10 rebounds, which was also impressive with his shoulder injury. His performance is what Buckeye fans have been clamoring for all year long, so hopefully he and the team can keep it up moving forward.
2. Hello, Justice Sueing!
Sueing had one of his best games of the season Thursday, and he was one of the main reasons the team stayed in the game. He scored a team-high 19 points, his most since Jan. 8. His field-goal percentage was the second-highest of the season at 63.6%, as he went 7-for-11. He also had eight rebounds, so it was an overall great game from the forward.
This type of game can definitely be a confidence-booster for Sueing. He was consistent all night long, was aggressive and controlled the floor. He has been steady all year long, averaging 12.7 points per game, but Thursday showed what he is capable of.
When he is on, he is one of the top players on the court. If he can manage some more consistency in playing like this, the team will no doubt be much improved. It will also take some of the pressure off Brice Sensabaugh’s shoulders if he can get some help on offense.
3. Overall High Intensity
This game just felt different. The Buckeyes played loose, yet it wasn’t apathetic. They didn’t look too stressed or overwhelmed at any moment. Simply put, they looked like they wanted to be there and they wanted to win, which is something that couldn’t be said for every single game this season.
The aggression and passion was definitely there. There were multiple instances of diving for a loose ball, fighting for rebounds and not giving up on defense. It was also nice to see some emotion on player’s faces after a big play, and them staying hyped up, believing they could win the game.
The game could’ve gone either team’s way, and unfortunately it wasn’t the Buckeyes. However, if they build on this game and continue to play the way they showed they were capable of, maybe, just maybe, they could end the season on a high note.