The Buckeyes tried to get off their two-game losing streak by taking a trip to The Barn Thursday night. Not an easy task.
In a back-and-forth contest, the Buckeyes ended up on the short side 63-53; their 3rd consecutive defeat and 2nd by double digits. To be honest, this team looks lost and without identity and is not playing with confidence right now. The issues that plagued them against Iowa were still present; no defensive answer for opponent inside play (Eliason had a double-double) and poor shooting (35% FG, 61% FT). Coming down the stretch in the 2nd half, players were passing up shots. Game narrative is below, read at your peril.
On to game action; OSU got off to a less than solid but good enough start, and at the under-16 held a 7-4 lead, highlighted by a 3-pointer by LaQuinton Ross. At the 15 minute mark, Minny had 5 turnovers and OSU was playing much more aggressive interior defense, a welcome sight from the previous game. They were only 3-12 from the filed, so it wasn’t all rosy. Of course, Minnesota took a cue from Iowa and played a good bit of zone defense to force OSU to beat them with actual shooting.
Moving to the under-12, OSU held a 9-6 lead, and Minnesota was “winning” the turnover battle 8-0. As poorly as OSu was shooting 21% (3-14), it helped that Minny had that many turnovers. However, the Gophers picked up the intensity at that point with man-to-man full court pressure which resulted in 2 quick Minny baskets to give them the lead 10-9.
While Minny was in their zone, Thad did a nice job f having his team set up in an overload situation to combat this by utilizing Zelle Smith at the high post and Thompson/Ross working the wings and McDonald floating at low-post. This gave the Buckeyes a better spacing and with a big guard at the high post, some options with shooting/driving/passing..
A brief 4-point run by Minnesota put them up 23-21 at the 3:43 mark. OSU was still having trouble finding the range at this point shooting 29% (7-24). Inability to clear the glass led to two more gopher FG’s, but Scoot had a beautiful assist to Thompson on a back cut ‘oop’ to cut Minny’s lead to 27-23 with 2:40 in the half. A nice head-fake and leaning jumper by LQR tied the game at 29 to end the half.
The 1st half was an interesting chess game as Minnesota applied man to man full court pressure, then dropped into a 2-3 zone for their half court defense. Meanwhile, Ohio State was in their high-post overload offense, which did provide better spacing. The issue was OSU still had trouble converting their half court offense, going 11-29, for 38%. Meanwhile, Minnesota was lighting it up by shooting 57% (12-21).
LaQuinton Ross led the Bucks at the half with 11 points, followed by Sam Thompson’s 9 points. Minnesota was paced by 8 points apiece by the tallest man on the floor (Elliott Eliason, 6’11″) and Deandre Mathieu (5’9″). Mr. Inside and Mr. Outside, I guess..
OSU had a horrific stretch to the 2nd half of out of control ball-handling, being outscored 7-3 in the first four minutes of play. Ohio State had 5 consecutive possessions ended with turnovers. Both teams were playing intense man-to man frontcourt pressure this half.
A bit of a Laquinton Ross “run” gave OSU a 38-36 lead as Ross scored 8 straight points in a 3 and a half minute period. The problem is that Minnesota came back on consecutive possessions with good entry passes to 6’10″ forward Maurice Walker for point blank layups to move the Gophers to a 43-39 lead with 11:46 to play.
At the 9:35 mark, as he was bringing the ball down the floor trailing 45-39, Shannon Scott was stripped of it from behind by 6’10″ Maurice Walker. This pretty much sums up the game.
At the under-4 timeout, Minnesota held to a 52-46 lead, driven by shooting 50% (22-44) while significantly out rebounding the 33-22 Buckeyes. A steal and breakaway at the 2:42 mark by Minnesota moved their lead to double digits, 57-46 and effectively took the game for the Gophers. OSU went from 5:44 to 1:02 without a FG. Ugh.
The Buckeyes were led by LaQuinton Ross (22 points, 5 rebounds) and Sam Thompson (12 points, 3 rebounds ) while the Gophers were led by Elliott Eliason (12 points, 13 rebounds ), Andre Hollins (10 points, 6 rebounds) and Deandre Mathieu (13 points, 4 rebounds ).
Ohio State’s next game is Monday January 20th against Nebraska. The game is at Lincoln, with a 7:00 PM EST tip-off, and will be televised by the BTN.