Heading into the week, the Ohio State Buckeyes men’s basketball team already had a very slim chance to make the NCAA Tournament. After losing to both Michigan State in East Lansing and Nebraska at home, those slim chances are gone and it’s going to take a miracle in the Big Ten Tournament for the Buckeyes to take part in March Madness.
After getting swept by the Spartans and Cornhuskers this past week, the scarlet and gray are now on a three-game losing streak. Let’s review how it all went down.
Ohio State outmatched by Michigan State to lose, 74-66
The Spartans haven’t been the Michigan State team of old, the one who is used to being atop the Big Ten. This season, they may not even make the NCAA Tournament, but they were too much for the Buckeyes Tuesday night. With a huge opportunity to (finally) win a big game on the road, Ohio State just didn’t have enough scoring or offense to keep up with Sparty.
Tied at 34 in the first half, the Bucks failed to score in the final 3:53 and allowed Michigan State to score the final six points of the half, leading to Ohio State trailing heading into the halftime locker room, 40-34. Their lone bright spot in the opening 20 minutes came midway through the half, when they went on a 10-0 run to take their first lead of the game at 24-23.
After allowing not being able to score in almost the final four minutes of the first half and allowing the Spartans to take the lead with a short run of their own, the scarlet and gray allowed MSU to score the first six points of the second half as well to take a 12-point lead. After that, they just could never work their way all the way back in the second half and were outscored 34-32 in the final 20 minutes.
Marc Loving (22 points, one rebound, two assists, two steals) put up a good fight, but he didn’t have much help from his teammates in the scoring column. Besides the senior, JaQuan Lyle (10 points, seven rebounds, five assists, two steals) was the only other Buckeye to notch double figures. The guard may have had 10 points, but he went scoreless in the second half.
Whether it was a cold night or just Michigan State’s defense, Ohio State struggled shooting the ball from all three areas of the game, knocking down just 42 percent from the floor, 39 percent from long distance, and 56 percent from the free-throw line.
The loss in East Lansing means that the Buckeyes will won’t reach the 10-win mark in Big Ten play for the first time since 2004-05, which was head coach Thad Matta’s first season in Columbus.
Here’s some highlights from the game:
Buckeyes lose in heartbreaking fashion to Nebraska, 58-57
Ohio State may be struggling for much of the season, but the Buckeyes should have easily taken care of business at home Saturday night against a mediocre Cornhuskers team. They didn’t.
In an ugly first half for both teams, it seemed as though the Bucks were able to end their quick two-game skid, holding a 30-24 lead at halftime. In fact, they were up by as many as 11 midway through the opening half. But, it was a tale of two halves, to say the least.
Up nine midway through the second half, Ohio State allowed the Cornhuskers to go on a 9-0 run to tie the game at 43 with just under nine minutes remaining. Then, the Bucks answered right back, taking a 54-47 lead with 3:30 to go, a lead that many though would give them the win.
An and-one by Glynn Watson Jr. with 11.3 second remaining following an OSU turnover gave the Cornhuskers a 58-57 lead, their first lead since early in the game. After Ohio State was outscored 34-27 in the final 20 minutes, the scarlet and gray went on to lose the game, 58-57.
Three Buckeyes scored in double figures: Jae’Sean Tate (14 points, 10 rebounds, three assists, one steal, one block), Loving (13 points, four rebounds, one assist, three steals), and Trevor Thompson (13 points, eight rebounds).
For the second-consecutive game, Ohio State struggled shooting. They made just 41 percent from the floor and 29 percent from beyond the arc. Along with that, they also had 18 turnovers, which cost them late in the game.
They had too many mental errors and turnovers throughout the game, which ultimately cost them, and Tate realizes that.
“Just lack of thinking, not being on the same page. In the second half, I felt at times we didn’t take care of the ball when we needed to and then that last two-minute stretch they hit a big shot, then the jump ball and then we sent them to the line with an and-1. We beat ourselves tonight. We deserve it.”
Nebraska didn’t shoot much better, connecting on just 38 percent from the field and 44 percent from three-point range, but they did just enough to come out on top.
The win gave Nebraska their first ever victory in Columbus.
Many people can be blamed for the loss, but Matta blamed himself.
“We weren’t as dialed in as we needed to be. There’s certain times when the game is ongoing, and we don’t get to talk about it. We didn’t do what we needed to do or what we wanted to do down the stretch. We’ve got to keep working on that. … Ultimately, I’m responsible. I have to do a better job. Give Nebraska credit. They never went away. They did a heck of job.”
The loss also assured that Matta would have his first losing conference record in his coaching career.
Here’s some highlights:
Coming up this week:
Thursday vs. Wisconsin (22-5, 11-3), 9 p.m. ET