(Image and game information courtesy ohiostatebuckeyes.com, ESPN.com)

Ohio State’s first Dance partner this year was the South Dakota State Jackrabbits. South Dakota State is the winner of the Summit Conference. In a game that rained three-point shots, the Buckeyes squeezed past the Jackrabbits 81-73 to advance to the Round of 32 against Gonzaga.

Ohio State’s Jae’Sean Tate, of all people, sank a 3-pointer less than two minutes into the game to give Ohio State it’s first lead, 3-2. A 3-pointer by Kam midway through the first half gave Ohio State an 8 point lead, 24-16 and it looked to me that Ohio State just may be able to hold SDSU to a 3-4 possession margin for the game.

Nope. With OSU up 38-29 at 4:48, Brandon Key scored two 3-pt baskets in consecutive possessions to pull SDSU to with 3 points. Over the last two minutes of the half, OSU was outscored 5-0 and went into intermission tied at 43-43.

In the second half, Ohio State gradually stretched out its lead in eight minutes of play to 13 points, 61-48. Okay, now I can relax. Just kidding… Over the next ten minutes, the Jackrabbits came back to tie the game at 70 all with 1:54 remaining. At that point (see 2nd bullet point, below), Kam Williams took over the game to pull Ohio State into the Round of 32.

Although the team shooting percentages were pretty dismal, it was still worth the rice of admission to see OSU’s Kieta Bates-Diop and SDSU’s Mike Daum play.

Ohio State shot 37% from the field (27-72), 30% (12-40) from 3-point range and 79% from the foul line (15-19).

South Dakota State shot 38% from the field (24-63), 42% from 3-point range (13-31) and 86% (12-14) from the foul line.

The Buckeyes had three players hit double figures. Kieta Bates-Diop (24 points), Kam Williams (22 – season high) and C.J. Jackson (20). Kieta turned another double-double with a game high 12 rebounds and C.J. led Ohio State with 5 assists., Jae’Sean Tate chipped in 8 points and 7 rebounds.

The Jackrabbits were led by Mike Daum (27 points), David Jenkins (16), Brandon Key (16) and Reed Tillinghuisen (10). Tevin King led the team with 9 rebounds and Key led with 4 assists.

What Went Right

Rebounding: Ohio State appeared more aggressive on the boards, especially the offensive boards . They pulled in 47 rebounds, with 15 of them offensive rebounds. Granted, there were a lot of missed shots, but it was encouraging to see the Buckeyes go after missed shots, especially theirs.

Ball Movement/Handling: Ohio State had 15 assists on 27 field goals, a solid number. This ratio is slightly better than their season ratio, so there was some measure of “control” in managing their ball movement. They also had only 9 turnovers, while forcing 13 SDSU turnovers. It’s the time of year where “every possession counts” and it tipped in OSU’s favor.

Coaching: I think Coach Chris Holtmann did another nice job of discerning the flow of the game and making the lineup adjustments to win. Basically, Ohio State’s “big bodies” couldn’t stay with SDSU’s “bigs”, so Holtmann went with a smaller lineup.

One example was at 8:41 in first half, Micah Potter entered the game. At 7:21, Mike Daum made Micah look like a cigar store Indian, as he went baseline for the dunk. At 7:09, Micah takes a seat on the bench for the evening.

 

What Didn’t

Shot selection: I wasn’t sure what I was watching; at first I thought it was a game of H-O-R-S-E. Ohio State took 40 three-point shots during the game; 24 in the first half and 16 in the second. Per Jae’Sean Tate, when asked about the number of 3-point attempts:

“Yeah, It just kind of happened. The way they were guarding, they were going under a lot of screens, so we just popped back and at first, they weren’t falling but we continued to shoot in the second.”

Shooting accuracy: If well over half your shots are from Never-never Land and you are making them, fine. That wasn’t the case. Referring back to Jae’Sean’s quote: in the 2nd half OSU was 3-16 from 3-pt range. You may as well just turn the ball over to SDSU at that point.

Killer Instinct:

Ohio State had SDSU down by “several possessions” at a couple stretches in the game and allowed the Jackrabbits to hop out of the hole and tie the game. I think the more egregious stretch was in the 2nd half. Ohio State held a 10 point lead with 4:00 to play, then went scoreless for two minutes, which was just long enough for SDSU to tie the game at 70 all.

 

Other…

  • Interestingly, but probably not surprisingly, Holtmann put Ohio State’s “small” lineup on the floor for the vast majority of the game and it worked. Kieta, C.J. and Kam all had over 35 minutes while Andre and Andrew logged 28 minutes each. Kaleb (7) and Micah (2) logged 9 minutes combined and their stat lines were commensurate.
  • Despite Ohio State’s ineffectiveness with shooting, especially 3’s, Ohio State gained the lead and sealed the win because SDSU insistently fouled Ohio State’s best (probably) pure shooter, Kam Williams twice within a 30 second span with about a minute and a half to play while Kam was shooting (what else?), 3-pt shots. Kam made the (3) ‘and 1’ at the 1:36 mark, then at the 1:04 mark three free throws. In :32, Kam gave OSU a 7 point lead.
  • With neither team shooting well, there were a lot of rebounds to be had. The Buckeyes grabbed 15 offensive rebounds (compared to 9 for SDSU) that resulted in 19 ‘second chance’ points (compared to 9 for SDSU). If you can’t get points with your 1st chance, getting them on your 2nd chance is acceptable.

 

Up Next

On Saturday, the Buckeyes play Gonzaga, a 68-64 winner over UNC-Greensboro. Gonzaga is 31-4 on the season and awarded a $4 seed in the West Region. Tip-off is scheduled for 7:45 pm ET (or so) and will be broadcast on CBS.

Gonzaga averages 84 points per game while allowing 67. The Zags shoot 50% from the field, 39% from 3-point range and make 9 treys per game. They average 39 rebounds (11 offensive) and 11 turnovers per game.

In context, Ohio State averages 76 points per game while allowing 67. The Buckeyes shoot 48% from the field,  35% from 3-points range and make 7 treys per game. They average 37 rebounds ( 10 offensive) and 12 turnovers per game.