Like many of their earlier games this season, the Buckeyes started out slow on the offensive side of the ball. Part of that was due to the mediocre opening play from Deshaun Thomas, a suprise considering his recent success as a starter averaging 20 points per game over his last 5. With Thomas struggling, the rest of the team stepped up their work and spread out the early scoring. Unfortunately, the points were hard to find as the Bucks continued to shoot the rock poorly.
On advantage favoring the Buckeyes, however, was that the poor shooting was a mutual problem. The Cardinals had difficulty finding open looks against the tough Buckeye defense, which even managed to force a shot-clock violation early on. The few open looks Lamar did find simply would not go down. The Cards were able to take advantage of some lazy “screen-door” defense on a nice dunk, but otherwise had trouble getting the ball down low to the bucket.
Heading to the end of the half, Ohio State was finally able to get their shooting going. Rather than trying to force ill-advised shots as they did early, the Bucks actively tried to manuever the defense into giving up the shots that OSU wanted. To add to that, the Bucks began to crank up their defense and force Lamar into more turnovers. The strategy began to work as OSU quickly found themselves with a double digit lead.
The energy was quickly lost due to the Buckeyes atrocious free throw shooting. For a stretch late in the first half, the Bucks missed 6 straight shots from the charity stripe. The missed points hampered OSU’s ability to completely smother Lamar heading into the locker room. Thankfully, Deshaun Thomas hit a last second three pointer to give the Buckeyes some momentum and much needed energy at the end of the half.The energy did not translate to the second half, but it was clear that the adjustments made by Matta did have an effect on the execution for the Buckeyes. The shooting which had seemed to be improving through the first half was suddenly laxidasical again, especially from William Buford who clanked a few shots that are normally easy for him.
When the shots did finally start falling for the Bucks from outside, they came from Deshaun Thomas, who had found his groove again, and Jordan Sibert. It has been disappointing to see how quiet Sibert has been this season, having come in with high expectations to be the guy to replace Diebler’s production. One of these days it will click, the shot form is there, he just needs to get over the mental barrier that is holding him back.
Pat Knight deserves credit for keeping his team playing hard and trying down to the last minutes, but the Buckeye defense was simply too much for his team in the end. The Buckeyes were able to gradually coast into the finish and limp their way to victory with little fire and effort. It really feels like this team will play this lazy style of basketball in a critical game later this season and it will cost them a game that they shouldn’t lose.
The Buckeyes shot 26-59 (44.1%) from the floor and 6-17 (35.3%) from three. Lamar responded with 20-57 (35.1%) and 0-12 (0%) respectively. The poor three point shooting helped the Buckeyes keep their lead on Lamar despite the soporific play. The Bucks also won the turnover battle 16-9, and the assists 19-6.
The Buckeyes next face their last non-conference opponent, Miami (OH), on Thursday, December 22nd at 8:30 PM EST in Value City Arena. You’ll be able to see that game on the Big Ten Network.