(Image courtesy ohiostatebuckeyes.com, game information courtesy sports.yahoo.com, ohiostatebuckeyes.com, ESPN.com, stats courtesy of teamrankings.com)
The #2 Ohio State Buckeyes hoped to end 2019 on a good note and salve our feelings after the football loss to Clemson the previous day. Nope. They got beat by #25 West Virginia, 67-59. If he football game annoyed and frustrated you, the basketball game would have driven you to distraction. The Fightin’ Hugginses utilized tenacious on-ball pressure to force Ohio State into a season high 22 turnovers.
Heading into the New Year, Ohio State (11-2, 1-1) is now ranked #5 and West Virginia (11-1, 0-0) is now #16.
Although the first half ended with the Buckeyes holding a 37-31 lead, the beginning of the game was ominous. Ohio Sate had three turnovers and a missed field goal attempt before finally getting on the board on their 5th possession. At the mid-point, it was still a melee with OSU holding an 18-14 lead. At the 5-minute mark, the Buckeyes were still leading, 27-25, then extended the lead to six points, 37-31, at the half.
The second half went completely to hell. West Virginia came back to tie the game 46 all with just under 10 minutes to play and took the lead 52-51 with five minutes to play. The Buckeyes took the lead. 54-53, on an Andre Wesson 3-pt shot and that was as good as it got. The game was effectively over at the :57 mark with WVU holding a 61-54 lead. The Buckeyes weren’t about to win a three possession game with under a minute to play.
Why? Because up to that point they were 3-19 from the field. In the second half, they were 5-24 from the field. They also committed 12 turnovers. Ohio State wasn’t about to outscore anyone.
The Buckeyes were top-heavy with four players in double figures, paced by Kaleb Wesson’s 17 points. Duane Washington, Jr had 12 while Luther Mohammad and C.J. Walker had 10 points each. The four other players that played substantial minutes combined for only 10 points. Ohio State clearly missed the depth of scoring that had been its custom all season. Kyle Young had a game high 11 rebounds and Kaleb pulled in 9. Luther had a team high 3 assists. Ball handling was a nightmare; DJ Carton “led” the team with 5 turnovers while CJ, Kaleb and Andre Wesson each had 4 turnovers.
The Mountaineers had two players in double figures. Miles McBride (21) and Chase Harler (10) did the honors. Derek Culver, despite early foul trouble, pulled down 10 rebounds. Jermaine Haley and Gabe Osabuohien each had 3 assists.
Ohio State shot 31% (15-48) from the field, 33% (8-24) from 3-point range and 72% (21-29) from the foul line.
West Virginia State shot 41% from the field (22-54), 40% (8-20) from 3-point range and 60% (11-15) from the foul line.
You’ll notice that WVa had 6 more FG attempts than Ohio State, which was the turnover margin. Turnovers have that effect.
What Went Right
Not much. I watched the game whistle-to-whistle and didn’t see anything pleasurable enough to prevent me from erasing the DVR.
Team defense continues to be pretty good. Ohio State sits #10 in the nation b allowing 58.7 PPG. They had a decent enough outing against the Mountaineers, but just couldn’t overcome shoddy shooting and ball handling.
Turnovers, my god, the turnovers. Two games ago, against Southeast Missouri State, Ohio State committed a, then, season high 21 turnovers. West Virginia upped that dubious mark by forcing 22 TOs. WVU outscored OSU 22-10 in ‘points off turnovers, so there’s your point margin. A pattern has been established. If Greg Gard doesn’t have his Badgers pressuring OSU’s guards, that’s coaching malfeasance. Likewise, if Chris Holtmann doesn’t work his team against a pressure defense, he’s just as culpable.
Ohio State shot only 31% from the field. Although a turnover is an ’empty’ possession, due to OSU’s poor shooting, maybe not all that empty. Or, conversely, a full possession wasn’t that far from a turnover as far as results go…
Ohio State’s composure went to hell in the second half when WVU kept the pressure dialed up. They were 5-24 from the field in the second half, 3-11 from 3-point range. Which means they were 2-13 from “inside the arc”. Absolutely inept. They had 12 of their 22 turnovers in the second half, so Holtmann didn’t do too much to get around Huggins’ on-ball pressure at halftime.
West Virginia box score:
Ohio State box score: (not ideal)
- It finally happened – DJ Carton looked like a freshman. As annoying as this game was, I think it should be a good learning point for the team as they get into the think of Conference play and especially come post-season.
- After the Southeast Missouri State game, I wrote:
At this point, the season gets a lot tougher for Ohio State. Their two remaining non-con games are this Saturday against #6 Kentucky (in Las Vegas) and on December 29th in Cleveland against Bobby Huggins and his currently #25 West Virginia Mountaineers. Flip the calendar into January and Big Ten play begins. Then we’ll see how good this team really is.
We’re still waiting…
The Buckeyes open , again, Big Ten play by hosting the Wisconsin Badgers. The game is scheduled for Friday, January 3rd wit tip-off at 7:00 pm ET. You can watch the game on FS1 or listen to it on TuneIn. Or both.