Buckeyes Roundball Roundup: Is Thad Matta on the hot seat?

Brooke LaValley / The Columbus Dispatch

The main question is going to be how bad does it need to get. To say the Big Ten season has started off going in the wrong direction for the Ohio State Buckeyes would be an understatement. For the first time since coming to Ohio State, head coach Thad Matta’s Buckeyes have started 0-3 in conference season after losses against Purdue and at Minnesota:

Buckeyes come up just short in 76-75 loss to Purdue

After suffering a loss in their conference opener the week prior, the scarlet and gray had a great opportunity not only to get their first Big Ten win, but also get a win against a Top 25 team that would look great on their resume come March.

In a rollercoaster of a first half that included plenty of runs from both teams, the Boilermakers closed the half on an 11-3 run of their own to take a 43-39 lead into the locker room. Forward Marc Loving hit a three-pointer at the buzzer to only give the Bucks a four-point deficit at the half.

Four minutes into the second half, Purdue took a 53-43 lead and seemed to have put the game away. Then, the Buckeyes went on a 12-2 run to tie things up. The score was then close almost the rest of the game. With just under 40 seconds to play, Ohio State big-man Trevor Thompson scored an and-one layup to tie things up, but missed the free-throw to give the scarlet and gray the lead. Purdue big-man Caleb Swanigan then came down, was fouled, and made 1-of-2 free throws to give the Boilermakers the lead and the eventual win.

In the loss, seven Buckeyes scored and had at least seven points each, including four in double figures: Jae’Sean Tate (17 points, one rebounds, three assists, one steal), Loving (14 points, eight rebounds, one assist), Thompson (11 points, seven rebounds, one steal, three blocks), and Kam Williams (10 points, four rebounds, one assist, two steals).

Ohio State shot well from the free-throw line, which hasn’t happened much this season, making 17-of-20 free throws. The biggest difference in the game was rebounds. They were outrebounded, 44-32, including 14-6 in offensive rebounds.. Purdue has plenty of size, but the Buckeyes must do better on the boards.

He obviously wanted his team to come away with a victory, but Matta knows that his team improved.

“I thought they came back and competed tonight. Tough loss the other night, but I loved our effort and our energy.”

After the loss, players seemed to be more emotional than usual, and definitely more emotional than they have been following any other loss. Loving commented on why he and his team were so emotional.

“We feel like we’ve worked as hard as we possibly can and left it all on the floor. Guys are going to be emotional because it’s just the love of the game. We want to win.”

Following the game, Matta broke the news that starting forward Keita Bates-Diop will miss the rest of the season with a stress fracture in his shin, a loss that not only hurts the Buckeyes on both sides of the ball but will also test their depth as well. For what it’s worth, he will receive a medical redshirt, which means that this year will not take a year of his eligibility away.

Ohio State digs themselves in too big of a hole early in 78-68 loss at Minnesota

Sunday night was a case of digging yourself in too big of a hole early in the game, using too much energy to dig out of that hole and come back, and then being too tired to keep up.

In the first nine minutes of the game, Minnesota took an 18-4 lead to start the game and then a 26-8 lead as well. Due to cold shooting and plenty of turnovers, the Bucks almost seemed lost on offense. After they managed to somewhat comeback, Ohio State trailed 38-27 heading into the intermission.

After starting the game very slow, the Bucks were still able to score 68 points, which is surprising considering how cold they were in the first half. Ohio State had three players in double figures: Tate (20 points, nine rebounds, four assists, one steal, one block), Thompson (15 points, 15 rebounds, one assist, one block), and JaQuan Lyle (12 points, four rebounds, six assists, two steals).

The scarlet and gray may have been able to cut the deficit to just four, at 62-58, with just over minute remaining, but they ran out of steam and allowed the Gophers to move the lead back up to double-digits before losing their third-consecutive game.

Ohio State’s two biggest downfalls that led to the loss were free throws and turnovers. They made just 11-of-21 buckets from the free-throw line and had 14 turnovers, including six in the fist six minutes of the game.

One big question is looming: Is Matta on the hot seat?

Coming up this week:

Thursday at No. 13 Wisconsin (13-3, 2-1), 7 p.m. ET

Sunday vs. Michigan State (11-6, 3-1), 1:30 p.m. ET