Was it jet lag? Was it pure tiredness? I mean the Buckeyes are returning from the West Coast where they lost 2 out of three in the PK80 Invitational. But what does that mean – exactly? Excuses …. Let’s not play that one.

In the Big Ten/ACC Challenge the Buckeyes have fallen four times and is 7-10 overall as they fell to Clemson 79-65.

The Buckeyes are now 5-3. There last win in this challenge came back on December 4, 2013 against Maryland.

In a game very reminiscent of Sunday’s loss, though the timing of the letdown was different, Ohio State built a big lead and then saw it go “poof!” The Buckeyes went up 10 on a 3-pointer from Musa Jallow that made it 47-37 with 15:58 left in the second half. Then Clemson put on its run, forcing Ohio State into turnovers and capitalizing on them to boot.

The Buckeyes had five turnovers in the first half. The second half was the killer as they had nine – equaling for the game 14.

Clemson went on a 15-2 run midway through the second half, taking its first lead since the first minute of the game on a Marcquise Reed jumper that made it 54-53 with 11:07 left. The Buckeyes had a brief rally, bringing it within three at 64-61 with 6:35 left on a Kaleb Wesson put-back, but that was it. Clemson pulled away again.

It would have been fair to expect Ohio State to look a little sluggish at the start, considering the Buckeyes played three games in four days on the West Coast over the weekend and Clemson hadn’t played since Friday. The Buckeyes actually came out hot before falling face first later on.

The Buckeyes shot the ball well early, especially from the 3-point line. Keita Bates-Diop hit a couple of 3s, so did Jae’Sean Tate as the Buckeyes started 4 of 5 from deep, and went 8 for 15 from behind the arc in the first half. It was the best they’d shot the ball all season. That helped Ohio State open up a 22-11 lead midway through the first half. But then Clemson went zone, giving Ohio State some problems — a common theme for the Buckeyes this year.

A 10-0 Clemson run closed the gap. Ohio State led 37-30 at the half.
Bates-Diop led Ohio State with 21 points. Wesson added 15, again playing extended minutes at center with Micah Potter still out nursing an ankle injury. Reed led Clemson with 22.

After starting hot from the 3-point line, Ohio State finished 9-for-21. So it was 1-for-6 from deep in the second half. Clemson shot 6-for-10 from 3 in the second half, and scored 23 points off Ohio State’s 14 turnovers.

The Buckeyes were 50 % (8-of-16) from the free-throw line.

Where did it go south?

Down nine late in the second half, Ohio State had a sequence that went like this: Tate missed two free throws, Bates-Diop rebounded and had his shot blocked, Tate rebounded that miss and had his shot blocked. That was the sign that the comeback wasn’t meant to be once Ohio State surrendered the lead.

Conclusion:

If you want to give The Buckeyes the benefit of the doubt, maybe this loss was fatigue as much as it was anything else. But that’s two games in a row now where the Buckeyes could have secured nice wins, and instead failed to close it out.

Next?

Because of the Big Ten’s weird schedule this year, Ohio State opens conference play on Saturday at Wisconsin. Tip-off from Madison is set for 5 p.m. on Fox.

BE THERE. I WILL …. GO BUCKEYES