(Photo courtesy the OSU Athletics web site. Game information courtesy OhioStateBuckeyes.com, ESPN.com, Associated Press)

That was closer than it should have been.

Ohio State (15-10, 5-7) erratic in their win against Rutgers (13-12, 2-10), 70-64 Wednesday evening. They had stretches of good effort / results mixed with mediocre play in the first half. They had stretches of indifference and solid play in the second half. It was a win, so we’ll let it go at that.

I think this was another example of Ohio State’s tendency to play to the level of the competition rather than to the level they are capable of playing. I think that Thad can led them to the water, but the team has to learn to drink it themselves.

In JC’s preview he felt that Rutgers would be powered by Corey Sanders’ scoring and Deshawn Freeman’s rebounding, as well as overall play of Candido Sa. Sanders led Rutgers in scoring (17 points) but fouled out with 5 minutes remaining in the game. This was unfortunate for Rutgers / fortunate for Ohio State. Freeman was superb (10 points, 10 rebounds) on the evening. Sa barely saw the court (2 minutes), but was 1-1 from the field, so if you extrapolate…

The Buckeyes had three players score in double figures;  Kam Williams (23 points), Trevor Thompson (15) and Jae’Sean Tate (11). Trevor also had a double-double by grabbing a game-high 13 rebounds, only 2 of them offensive.

The Scarlet Knights had four players in double figures; Corey Sanders (17 points), Mike Williams (11), Deshawn Freeman (10) and Issa Thiam (10). As mentioned above, Freeman matched his 10 points with 10 rebounds for his double-double.

Thoughts and opinions…

  • The Buckeyes really owe this win to the play of Kam Williams, particularly in the last few minutes.  With six minutes to play, OSU held a 56-55 lead. Over the next five minutes, Kam was the Ohio State University’s offense; he scored 10 consecutive (2-3, field goals, 4 free throws)points to hold Rutgers at bay.
  • During this stretch, his team mates contributed 3 fouls, 2 turnovers and 1 missed FG. Just not a whole lot of anything happened, other than Kam, during that time.
  • Ohio State also benefited from several Rutgers shortcomings. Their shooting (40%, 23% 3-pt) was bad and their free throw shooting (55%) was worse. Corey Sanders also lost control by going on a late game fouling spree. Within approximately a span of 1:30, Sanders committed 3 fouls (#’s 3, 4, 5) to end his game with 4:49 remaining.
  • Ohio State needed sub-par play from Rutgers, because they weren’t too sharp themselves. Rutgers did better with their offensive rebounding, outscoring Ohio State 16-12 in ‘2nd chance points’. Rutgers also embarrassed OSU’s transition defense, outscoring the Buckeyes 10-0 in ‘fast break points’. Relatedly, Rutgers took advantage of poor OSU ball handling and outscored Ohio State 19-5 on ‘points off turnovers’.
  • Aside from Kam’s shooting, Ohio State’s guard play was fairly abysmal. Here’s one way of looking at it; ‘field goals vs turnovers’. Kam had 3 turnovers, but his 8 FG’s sort of made this a non-issue with him, so he’s 8-3. C.J. Jackson had 2 field goals, 5 turnovers (woof). Marc Loving (although not a guard) again had more turnovers (3) than FGs (2). JaQuan Lyle had 0 FGs but 3 turnovers.(No wonder Thad’s response, below, was cryptic). Netting out Kam Williams, these players ‘field goal:turnover’ ratio was  4: 11. Good grief.
  • I listened to the game on 97.1 The Fan. In the post-game interview, Thad was asked about JaQuan Lyle’s spotty appearance and play and if it were related to JaQuan’s ankle injury. Interestingly, Thad responded that he wasn’t sure what the problem was with JaQuan’s play. That struck me as a vote of non-confidence, I believe. Saturday’s game against Maryland may be revealing on Thad’s upcoming player rotation. (Ed Note: If you don’t listen to Paul Keels and Ron Stokes broadcast the games, you’re missing out on a lot of good basketball).

This was a sporadic game by the Buckeyes. They need to show the same effort they had in their Michigan win to have a chance against Maryland. The Terps can be beaten, but not if Ohio State play like they did against Rutgers.

Up Next

The Buckeyes travel to College Park, MD to play Maryland (20-4, 8-3) on Saturday afternoon. Tip-off is scheduled for 4:00 pm EST. The game can be seen on ESPN and/or you can listen to it on 97.1. Ohio State lost to Maryland 77-71 at VCA on January 31st.