Well-dee-well. It seems each time we write this debate article, the Ohio State Buckeyes men’s basketball team is in a worse and worse spot. Now mired in a three-game losing streak, the Buckeyes need to end January on a high note and carry that into a big February if they want to even finish in the middle of the pack in the Big Ten.
Last week, Connor and Justin discussed how concerned they are with the team, on a scale of 1-10. Justin was at a four last week, prior to the loss to Michigan. Connor was a six. The most popular votes in the poll were 7 and 8, each with 21% of the vote and each higher than either Connor or Justin picked.
After 135 weeks:
(There have been four ties)
As stated above, Ohio State needs to win Saturday if it wants to remain relevant in the Big Ten. After losing two consecutive games that were labeled “must win” by a lot of folks, losing a third-straight “must win” might bring this season to a very premature ending in mid-January.
Last time Ohio State faced Penn State, the ‘Nits roared back from an 18-point deficit to knock out the Buckeyes in Happy Valley, 83-80. What does Ohio State need to do better at the make sure they even the score on Saturday afternoo?
Today’s Question: What does Ohio State need to be better to get revenge on Penn State?
Connor: Guard Kanye Clary and Ace Baldwin 1-on-1
Last time these teams met, Ohio State was weaker than a wet blanket on the defensive end, getting sliced up by Ace Baldwin, Kanye Clary and D’Marco Dunn in the second half to the tune of 34 combined points. Dunn and Baldwin were swinging a bit above what they’ve tended to do all season long, but you’ll get that sometimes in big home games.
Clary is a different story. He’s going to earn All-Big Ten honors at the end of the season, averaging 19.1 points per game on 49% shooting and 37% from three-point land. Despite being under 6-feet tall and not quite 200 pounds, Clary is shifty and is elite at getting into the lane against opposing guards. He did it well against Thornton last time out, who is taller and has 25 pounds on Clary. If Ohio State wants to win this game on Saturday, it has to be better at guarding Clary and his fellow guards one-on-one.
The duo of Baldwin and Clary is one of — if not the — best backcourt in the Big Ten, and containing either one of them one-on-one is a brutally tough task. But if you’re not able to do that, guys like Dunn (who had 16 points the last time these teams met) and Leo O’Boyle (15 points) can afford to sit open on the perimeter, waiting to receive a pass and shoot wide open threes.
Guarding Baldwin, Clary, and Dunn in space was something that Chris Holtmann and Bruce Thornton both admitted Ohio State had trouble with last time they faced Penn State. If they could’ve slowed down that trio even a smidge better, the Buckeyes would’ve won that game.
I know Ohio State’s shooting has been putrid lately, but Penn State is a bad, bad defensive team and the Buckeyes are at home. I think they will put up enough points to win the game, just like last time. The question they still need to answer is if they can prevent other teams from doing the same.
Justin: Three-point shooting
I am going to take the low-hanging fruit on this one. There has been one constant with the Buckeyes through this three-game losing streak: They can’t shoot. And it is getting worse by the game.
Against Indiana, the Buckeyes shot 7-for-27 from deep, and players that weren’t named Jamison Battle were 2-for-17. It was the same story against Wisconsin, as the team shot 6-for-18, and players not named Jamison Battle shot 2-for-13. Against Michigan, nobody shot the ball well, as the Buckeyes were 3-for-25 from three.
For the people keeping track at home, that is 16-for-70 over the last three games, which is 22.8 percent. 23 percent if you round up. That is not winning you many ball games.
After the Michigan game, Bruce Thornton spoke about the Buckeyes shooting struggles.
“It’s a way different ballgame when you’re making shots and when you’re missing shots,” Thornton said. “It’s a make-or-miss league for this league, it’s a make-or-miss league for a lot of Power 5 and mid-major leagues because if you make shots, the whole tenor of the game is different.
Basketball is a make-or-miss game, and until the Buckeyes get back on track, it could be a long winter.
What does Ohio State need to do better this time to beat Penn State?
This poll is closed
Guard Clary and Baldwin 1-on-1 (Connor)
Three-point shooting (Justin)