Buckeyes Roundball Roundup: Split against Penn State, Indiana

(AP Photo/Jay LaPrete)

The rollercoaster season for the Ohio State Buckeyes men’s basketball team ended the same way it has gone throughout with the valleys outnumbering the peaks. In the last week, the Bucks barely beat Penn State in Happy Valley, 71-70, and came up short against Indiana on Senior Night, 96-92.

Ohio State hangs out to beat the Nittany Lions, 71-70

In a game that featured two underachieving teams, the Buckeyes took advantage against Penn State to win just their fourth game away from Columbus.

Ohio State may have had 11 turnovers in a sloppy first half, but they were still able to take a 40-36 lead into halftime. But, like they have in quite a few games this season, they allowed their opponent to take a quick lead in the second half. Penn State went on a 12-1 run to take a nine-point lead six minutes into the closing half.

Trailing for the first time in the game, the Bucks were able to regain the lead with just under seven minutes remaining following a three-pointer by freshman Andre Wesson to finish a 9-0 run for the scarlet and gray. Both teams took turns with the lead down the stretch with the Ohio State taking the last lead with just seconds remaining.

Jae’Sean Tate bailed out the Buckeyes and came up big when it mattered most. After Penn State took a 70-69 lead with a three-pointer with nine seconds remaining, Tate took the in-bounds pass coast-to-coast for a game-winning layup with seconds remaining to give the Buckeyes their second-consecutive win.

Ohio State was led JaQuan Lyle’s 17 points, six rebounds, four assists, and two steals off the bench. Marc Loving (14 points, six rebounds, two steals), Tate (12 points, nine rebounds, two steals), and Trevor Thompson (11 points seven rebounds, one assist, one steal) also notched double digits.

In the win, the scarlet and gray shot 49 percent from the floor, 35 percent from beyond the arc, and just 64 percent from the free-throw line. The Buckeyes turned the ball over too often, finishing with 17 turnovers and just nine assists. Luckily for them, they dominated the boards by outrebounding Penn State, 37-28. They also outscored the Nittany Lions 34-16 in the paint. Ohio State’s bench came up big, outscoring Penn State’s reserves, 29-5.

Buckeyes dig themselves in too big of a hole in 96-92 loss to Hoosiers

The regular season finale had some meaning to it with the Buckeyes just a game ahead of the Hoosier’s in the B1G standings. The winner would get a first-round bye in the B1G tournament, while they loser would have to play Wednesday night. Neither team is likely to win five games in five days (or win the conference championship anyway), but losing would make it that much more difficult.

Indiana connected on 13 of its first 15 shots (their two misses were rebounded and put back) and scored 34 points in the first 10 minutes of the game, including take a quick 11-0 lead in the first two minutes and 20 seconds of the game. Trailing 32-15 with just under 12 minutes remaining in the first half, Ohio State must have thought that it was (finally) a good time to start playing for real.

Trailing 54-40 at halftime after the Hoosiers shot 65 percent (!) in the first half, the Buckeyes started the second half on a 13-3 run and eventually tied the game at 64. Unfortunately, they could never take the lead for good.

The Buckeyes had their worst defensive game of the season. They allowed Indiana to shoot 59 percent from the field, including making 12-of-23 threes. Indiana’s 96 points were the most by a visiting team in Value City Arena’s history. Ohio State head coach Thad Matta commented on Indiana’s incredible start following the game:

“We needed a cover over the basket. They opened up leading by 11. We saw that a little bit with Michigan State a month ago, but Indiana just kept going and going. At the start, we had a couple decent looks, but they were making shots at an alarming rate.”

Although their defense struggled, Ohio State’s offense looked sharp. Three players scored at least 18 points, while four hit the double-digit mark: Tate (20 points, six rebounds, six assists, one steal), Thompson (19 points, 11 rebounds, one assist, two blocks), C.J. Jackson (18 points, four rebounds, two assists, one steal), Lyle (18 points, one rebound, two assists), and Marc Loving (11 points, three rebounds, three assists, two steals).

Tate didn’t think Ohio State’s defense struggled as much as it looked they did. Instead, he just mentioned that the Hoosiers were on fire and it was almost impossible to stop.

“I don’t want to say that we didn’t have anything, it’s just that they were on fire. It seemed like every shot they were taking was going in. We knew that they were a transition team and that killed us.”

Ohio State finishes with a dismal 17-14 record and just 7-11 in the B1G.

Coming up this week:

B1G Tournament

After playing themselves out of a first round bye, the No. 11 seed Buckeyes will take on 14th-seeded Rutgers Scarlet Knights on Wednesday night. It is the worst seed Matta has had since being in Coumbus. For the first time, the tournament will take place at the Verizon Center in Washington D.C.

Here’s the full bracket: