(Photo courtesy cleveland.com. Game information courtesy OhioStateBuckeyes.com)
After escaping with that win, you should be smiling, Thad.
The Buckeyes (10-3) moved into Christmas break with a win over an energetic UNC-Asheville (8-5) team Thursday night 79-77. This game was much closed that it should have been. The Buckeyes brought a height and athletic advantage into the game; they just didn’t bring much else.
This will be a short, bullet-point recap; we all have errands to run before the Holidays. I don’t have the time to write anything lengthy, and you likely don’t have time to read anything lengthy. So, off we go for the dissection…
- In JC’s preview, he predicted an Ohio State win, comfortably, He nearly aced OSU’s score, but was counting on a better defensive effort than we saw. Unfortunately, this was not a repeat of the Youngstown State game.
- This was a tale of two different approaches to the game. Ohio State used its superior size (UNC-Asheville starts 4 guards, their tallest starter is 6’6″) to work the ball inside, and it was worth the effort scoring 48 of their 79 points “in the paint”.
- In contrast, UNC-A for the most part, played their guards on the perimeter with Forward Will Meeks floating in the post position. Their ball movement created open perimeter shots. The Bulldogs made those open shots; hitting 11-24 (46%) of their 3-pt shots.
- This now raises two questions. Will Ohio State challenge teams equal in size with an interior ball movement? Will OSU’s guards be able to guard the perimeter in the Big Ten?
- Sticking with the topic of “ball movement” for a minute, Ohio State’s approach to breaking the episodic ball pressure by UNC-A Was annoying as hell. Rather than crisply passing the ball, they used a lot of lackadaisical ‘skip passing’ over defenders. Think something along the lines of lob passes. Two things wrong with this. First, it provided opportunities for UNC-A to deflect passes and get turnovers. Second, these lob passes allowed UNC-A to reset their zone and man match-ups. Rarely did a Bulldog get caught out of position because he couldn’t keep up with the OSU ball movement.
- Ohio State’s loss of composure in the final few minutes was a concern. In the stretch from 6:00 to 4:25 remaining game time, Marc Loving and Trevor Thompson were both called for technical fouls. These temper tantrums resulted in a 5 point swing; a 3 point OSU lead morphed into a 2-pt UNC-A lead. layers chirping at the refs rarely works. If Marc and Trevor beefed about calls vs UNC-A, just wait until they get into Big Ten play…
However, on the bright side:
- Trevor Thompson had another double-double (14 points, 10 rebounds). This was Trevor’s 4th dub-dub of the season. He seems to be emerging as an inside play maker for Thad.
- I thought that JaQuan Lyle had one of his better games with 17 points and 6 assists. His scoring is always a nice feature, but I was truly impressed with his play making and ball distribution. He actively sought to get the ball to team mates for easy scores.
- Although Buckeye free throw shooting was pretty dismal (18-26, 69%) for the game, C.J. Jackson and Kam Williams made free throws in the final seconds of the game to hold UNC-A at bay. Clutch shooting guys.
- Speaking of “clutch”, I want to get back to JaQuan Lyle (JQL) for a bit. With OSU trailing by 2 points at the 2:35 mark, JaQuan took over the game for the next 2 minutes. Beginning with their possession at the 2:35 mark, the next four OSU possessions were: JQL – 2 FTs, JQL layup, JQL jump shot, JQL layup. Eight points in for possessions; that’s pretty damn efficient offense down the stretch.about as efficient as you’re going to get.
The Buckeyes travel to Champaign, IL for a January 1st game against Illinois to open Big Ten play. The game can be seen on BTN and/or you can listen to it on 97.1.