Okay! Okay! The news here is a tad late…..

But if you ever celebrated Christmas like we do …. Dementia indeed would factor into all the after fact … does that make sense? Okay, sorry, it slipped my mind.

But as we all know, the Buckeyes lost to the Tar Heels Saturday the 23rd in the CBS Sports Classic 86-72. So why even read any more of these results? Allow me the opportunity on a new spin ….

Prior to meeting up with the 5th ranked Tar Heels, the Buckeyes were swinging on all the right notes, beaming with that awesome Buckeye pride – winning. Forcing discussions, certainly in my mind, as to why weren’t they in the top twenty-five at least?

The Buckeyes indeed had a chance to move from underdogs to a legitimate tournament threats.

Despite all the love surrounding Coach Holtmann’s squad North Carolina came out swinging in a route – owning The Ohio State University.

For Holtmann, it seemed that the grip unraveled early in a slew of mental errors at the hands of his Buckeyes.

“A lot of (three-pointers) came out of their motion, with just typical screening actions,” Holtmann said post game. “We lost Berry one time in that as well. Obviously, we had a transition breakdown on another one. When your margin for error is really, really razor thin you just have to be able to eliminate those kinds of stretches.”

Ohio State headed into Saturday following three games against opponents with reputable three point characteristics. Appalachian State ranks 28th in attempts from deep. The Citadel comes in seventh, and William & Mary hits threes at a near 46 percent clip, good for second nationally. In those games, however, the Buckeyes defense averaged just seven makes on less than 27 percent shooting.

North Carolina gorged ahead in the arc … they hit 13 shots on 25 attempts, their second highest total thus far in this season. For the most part, the Buckeyes protected the perimeter nobly. Often though, shots hit for the Tar Heels anyway, and when Ohio State’s concentration dipped, North Carolina seized upon the moment.

North Carolina freshman Jalek Felton, who upon entering this game had a mere seven three point shots – finishing here with four of five – including a ‘in-your-face against Andrew Dakich.

“Transition. The way they get the ball up the court so fast, even on made baskets is going to be key,” Jae’Sean Tate said before the game. “Trying to make them play in the half court is basically what we’re going to have to try and do.”

Limiting transition was an important aspect of the game plan, and for good reason, as North Carolina ranks 12th in adjusted tempo, per Ken-Pom. Largely, Ohio State did a good job limiting run-outs, but several Tar Heel shots opened up by a lack of communication as the Buckeyes backpedaled toward the basket. Again, in an otherwise tightly contested match up, these gaffes amounted to “pay-dirt.”

More than anything, the wrong side of an 18-4 stretch doomed Ohio State. With 5:37 left in the first half, the score was tied at 23. Two early fouls accredited to Keita Bates-Diop sent him to the bench way too early – the tactic clearly was the fear of a third foul would simply bury the Buckeyes in the second half. The Tar Heels capitalized, securing a commanding lead they would never give up.

KDP and Jae’Sean did not carry the offense as they normally do. The issue, frankly, is the result of the lack of depth. To Holtmann’s credit he is knowing of this and always bandages in a creative manner, the line ups.

CJ Jackson did perform excellently, scoring the Buckeyes’ first 11 points and 19 overall. Kaleb Wesson also had a solid 12 in the second half after a scoreless first. But Ohio State simply does not have the firepower to sustain an effective attack when Bates-Diop and Tate are underperforming or off the floor for any periods of time.

Ohio State has one more non-conference match up left, this time against the Miami (OH) Red Hawks on Saturday in Columbus. The Buckeyes kick off conference play Monday, when they head to Iowa City to take on the Hawkeyes.

 

Are you going to be watching? I know I will …. I am, after all, a crack head for the Scarlet and Gray – admittedly, regardless of the results.