After four easy wins against much less competition to start the season, the Ohio State Buckeyes were faced with much better competition in the inaugural Phil Knight 80 tournament in Portland, Oregon, which began on Thanksgiving and went until late Sunday night. Although it was the first one, many have already considered the PK80 one of the best in-season tournaments in college basketball due to not only the teams that take part in it, but the talented players that do as well.
The Buckeyes had a bit of a rough time in the tournament, going 1-2 and losing their first two games of the season.Thursday night, Gonzaga proved that they are just the better team while beating Ohio State, 86-59; took care of Stanford on Friday, 79-71; then suffered a devastating loss to Butler Sunday afternoon, 67-66.
Ohio State outmatched by Gonzaga in 86-59 loss
With Chris Holtmann in his first year, the Buckeyes just didn’t have the depth or overall talent to compete with a power like Gonzaga.
The game started at almost 12:40 a.m. ET Friday morning on the east coast and it was almost as if Ohio State was sleepwalking at times throughout the game. Forced to start true freshman Kaleb Wesson after Micah Potter was held out due to an ankle injury suffered in the Buckeyes’ last game, Ohio State was without one of their main contributors.
After trailing just 33-31, the scarlet and gray allowed Gonzaga to go on a 11-0 run, which allowed the Bulldogs to take a 44-31 run to take control of the game going into halftime after a stretch of missing their final nine shots of the half and turned the ball over six times.
Gonzaga then went on an 8-2 run to start the second half, all but icing the game with over 17 minutes remaining.
Although Keita Bates-Diop averaged just over 19 points per game in the first four games of the season, the forward had just seven points Thursday night. He hauled in 10 rebounds. Three Buckeyes notched double digits: Jae’Sean Tate (12 points, four rebounds, one assist, one steal), C.J. Jackson (12 points, three rebounds, three assists, one steal), and Wesson (10 points, four rebounds, two steals) all scored at least 10 p
Whether it was due to the time or not, Ohio State couldn’t find their shot. They shot just 35 percent from the field and 30 percent from long distance.
Buckeyes get back in the win column with 79-71 win over Stanford
After getting dominated Thursday night, Ohio State was able to bounce back and take down the Cardinal, who also lost on Thanksgiving. If the Buckeyes beat the Bulldogs, they would have taken on Florida instead of Stanford.
Down 31-21 with just under three minutes remaining in the first half, the Buckeyes closed the half on an 11-1 run to tie the game at 32 going into halftime. Nine of their 11 points came on three three-pointers from Bates-Diop. While the Buckeyes made a run, Stanford didn’t make a shot in the final 4:11 to allow the scarlet and gray to make their run.
After their run to end the first half, Ohio State started the second half on a 16-6 run to take their biggest lead of the game, one that they kept for good. Stanford came within six points at 63-57, but the Cardinal couldn’t come any closer.
Four of Ohio State’s five starters notched double digits: Jackson (career-high 23 points, six rebounds, three assists, one steal, one block), Bates-Diop (18 points, 11 rebounds, two steals, two blocks), Jae’Sean Tate (14 points, 10 rebounds, three assists), and Wesson (10 points, three rebounds, one assist).
The Buckeyes defense came up big, forcing Stanford to shoot just 36 percent from the floor and 29 percent from beyond the arc. They forced 13 Stanford turnovers as well.
Ohio State gives up late 15-point lead, lose to Butler in overtime, 67-66
For Chris Holtmann and his coaching staff, it was quite an emotional game, at least at the beginning. Just seven games into the season, they were all going up against their former employer and all of the kids that they either coached or recruited.
With that said, once tip off took place, it was just a basketball game. Ohio State took an early 11-3 lead and then a 20-12 lead, but slowly allowed Butler back into the game at halftime after scoring just four points in the final 5:07 of the half. After a low-scoring first half that saw the Buckeyes take a 24-21 lead into the locker room.
Ohio State demanded for about the first 15 minutes of the second half, but unfortunately, halves are 20 minutes long in college basketball. Led by Bates-Diop and Jackson, the Buckeyes played much better at the beginning of the second half.
They took their largest lead of the game at 54-39 with 5:31 left and even held that same 15-point lead with 3:51 remaining, but then the wheels fell off. Ohio State not only let Butler back in the game, but after not scoring in the final 2:10, they allowed the Bulldogs to tie the game with a three-pointer with just seconds remaining to force overtime.
Due to the comeback, Butler had all the momentum in overtime and took advantage of it. After holding a 15-point lead with less than four minutes left in regulation, the scarlet and gray were completely dominated and suffered a devastating loss.
The Buckeyes held the Bulldogs to shoot just 36 percent from the floor and a dismal 19 percent from long distance. Unfortunately for Ohio State, their season-high 24 turnovers made up for Butler’s inability to find the bottom of the net.
Bates-Diop collected his fifth double-double of the season, totaling 16 points, 11 rebounds, and two assists. Jackson was the only other Buckeye to notch double digits, having 19 points, seven rebounds, two assists, and three steals.
While there’s still plenty of season left, a big win against Butler would have been very nice, especially after holding a big deal.
Coming up this week:
Tuesday vs. Clemson, 7:15 p.m. ET
Saturday at Wisconsin, 5 p.m. ET