In what was a rollercoaster of a week that saw the lowest of lows since head coach Thad Matta came to Columbus in 2004, the Ohio State Buckeyes were not only upset by the Florida Atlantic Owls, but they were purely embarrassed on their home floor. Despite the horrible loss, the scarlet and gray were able to bounce back and beat the Connecticut Huskies to get back in the win column.
Buckeyes stunned by Florida Atlantic, 79-77
There’s no easy way to put it: the Buckeyes had a loss at home (and in overtime) that could potentially cost them come March. In their worst loss in recent memory, Ohio State was upset by a 2-5 Florida Atlantic squad, 79-77.
In the first half, the Buckeyes held a 7-point lead after two free-throws from Jae’Sean Tate. But, they squandered that lead before going to the locker room and led just 32-31 at halftime.
Then, in the second 20 minutes, the scarlet and gray held both an 8-point lead with 13 minutes remaining and 11-point lead with just over nine minutes left and let those two leads get away as well. In fact, after that 11-point lead, the Owls went on a 14-0 run to take the lead. Following a back-and-forth final four minutes, the Buckeyes were able to tie the game and force overtime. After scoring the first four points of the extra period, Ohio State allowed Florida Atlantic to fight back and embarrass them in Value City Arena after the Owls made a floater from just inside the key with one second left to seal the win.
It was Ohio State’s first loss of the season when they score 70 points (won the previous five times they hit that mark). After putting up 77 points and still coming away without a win, JaQuan Lyle blamed the team’s offense, not the defense.
“They were hitting really tough shots. I felt like we were playing great defense. I don’t know why we weren’t putting points on the board. We’ll have to watch film and look at that.”
Five Buckeyes scored in double figures, but so did five players from Florida Atlantic. Leading Ohio State were Trevor Thompson (career-high 16 points, seven rebounds, one block), Tate (14 points, seven rebounds, two assists), Marc Loving (12 points, six rebounds, two assists, one steal), Lyle (10 points, seven rebounds, nine assists, one block), and Keita Bates-Diop (10 points, three rebounds, one assist). It was Diop’s first game back after missing the previous five games.
After almost beating a legitimate top-20 team in Virginia just a week prior, it’s clear that the Buckeyes play to the level of their opposition. Tate talked about that following the game.
“I feel like when we do bring the energy, we are a completely different team than when we don’t. As of right now, we have not brought that energy as much as we did against Virginia. Right now we just have to find a way to come out every game and play like we did against Virginia. This one hurt, but it’s a long season and we have to prepare for UConn."
Matta was not happy, for obvious reasons. He knows that his team was not only outplayed, but they weren’t able to execute down the stretch either.
“We let everything affect us, and they outplayed us, there’s no question about that. When things happen we have to be tougher and say ‘we can defy this’ and who cares if they bank a 3-pointer. We have to go back down on offense and execute.
Down the stretch our play really wasn’t good. We didn’t get a shot off at the end of regulation, and we really didn’t pressure them at all. They were able to run everything they wanted to; the entire night we played back on our heels.”
Ohio State takes care of UConn, 64-60
Following their embarrassing loss earlier in the week, the Buckeyes were able to come away with a victory over UConn, 64-60, another team that has struggled in the early season. Ohio State desperately needed a win like this.
After taking an early 13-6 lead, Ohio State trailed at halftime for the first time this season, 34-32. The opening 20 minutes featured a slew of lead changes and the teams going back and forth on both sides of the court.
Unlike Tuesday, Matta’s squad was able to actually outscore their opponent in the second half to seal the victory. Connecticut was able to score eight of the first 10 points coming out of the halftime locker room, but the Bucks answered that back by going on a quick 8-2 run with under a minute remaining to take the lead for good.
Ohio State Trevor Thompson for his incredible game and the best game of his college career. He not only led the team in points (17) and rebounds (17), but he also set career-highs in both as well. After coming off the bench in every game so far this season, the big-man may have earned himself a spot in the starting lineup with his performance the last two games.
His head coach made sure to talk very positively about Thompson following the game.
“I thought Trevor was really good tonight. We just have to keep him focused; he can drift sometimes. Keeping him dialed in and keeping him focused. The biggest thing he did tonight even with 17 and 17 was he only had one foul. I thought he played a lot smarter. Given the inside presence he has inside right now, he’s doing a heck of a job.”
Why did Thompson play so well? After struggling last season in the Buckeyes game at UConn, he not only wanted revenge, but wanted to lead his team to a victory over the Huskies this time around.
“I definitely came into the game with a chip on my shoulder from last year, how I played and what happened. I told myself before the game that I wanted revenge and payback. That’s what my mind was on.”
After shooting just 34 percent from the field and 11.1 percent from beyond the arc, the Buckeyes can thank their success at the free-throw line for being able to beat the Huskies. They shot 76.5 percent from three free-throw stripe and attempted 34 foul shots compared to UConn’s nine.
Along with Thompson, Lyle (16 points, four rebounds, three assists, four steals) and Tate (13 points, three rebounds, one steal) were also able to notch double figures.
Coming up this week:
Saturday vs. No. 2 UCLA (10-0) in Las Vegas, 3:00 p.m. ET