In a very close game, there was a clear winner… at least individually. DeShaun Thomas took the game and made it his own. Thomas had 28 points on 10-20 shooting, and at times, it seemed as if he was incapable of missing. Going 6-11 downtown, DeShaun truly put on a show for the national TV audience.
Coming off of a great win against the Michigan Wolverines, the Buckeyes took on the other Michigan foe in East Lansing. In a game fought till the very end, the momentum of the home crowd ended up being too much for the Buckeyes.
Turnovers mauled the Buckeyes from the opening tip, committing 14 turnovers, 5 coming within the first few minutes. Eventually, the Buckeyes found their groove and fought back from a 10-0 deficit to start the game to regain the lead with 8:33 left to play in the first half. An emphatic slam by Thomas brought gave the Buckeyes the lead, a lead that they would only keep for a few short minutes. The Buckeyes entered the half down by 4, looking to bounce back with a good second half.
In the second half, the Buckeyes just couldn’t muster up enough offensive firepower to overcome Sparty’s defense. Seemingly trying to bounce back for the entire second half, DeShaun Thomas kept the Buckeyes in the thick of it, but simply couldn’t bring home a W.
Essentially, the Buckeyes, without Thomas, would be a team that couldn’t by a bucket. The offense runs through his ability to shoot, essentially creating shots whenever possible. Aaron Craft, who has been better lately, had chances to make some clutch shots, but in the end just couldn’t pull the trigger.
I don’t know what you can say about this loss. Michigan State is certainly a good basketball team, but is definitely beatable. The Buckeyes had their chances to connect but just couldn’t edge out that bucket they needed.
It’s hard to say what is ailing the Bucks, specifically. They obviously need a secondary scorer, and maybe a change in the starting lineup. It seems that when Shannon Scott comes to the floor, the Buckeyes suddenly come alive. Maybe the slow starts could be curbed by bringing Scott on the floor sooner, or starting him. That secondary scorer hasn’t come to fruition to this point, and until he does, the Buckeyes are going to be grasping for close wins on the road.
Ohio State now falls to 13-4 overall and 3-2 in the Big Ten, while Michigan State becomes 16-3 and 5-1 in the Big Ten. Clearly Ohio State has “quality” losses, and has yet to lose against a team they should beat, but they need to put some quality wins on the resumè and fast. Of course, beating Michigan was great, but a win in Ann Arbor would surely solidify Ohio State’s place amongst the Big Ten elite.
So here we stand. Ohio State is still a mysterious basketball team. They’ve only looked bad once, at Illinois, and looked great once, against Michigan. This team needs to establish an identity and some consistency in the process. With Iowa coming up on Tuesday in Columbus, maybe the Buckeyes can use a lesser opponent to help with their inconsistencies. It seemed to work with Purdue before the Wolverines came into town and hopefully will work against the Hawkeyes and Nittany Lions before the Wisconsin Badgers, who are undefeated in the Big Ten so far, come into town.
I know not whether it’s Matta, Craft, or Thomas that is allowing for this inconsistent play from the Buckeyes, but I do know that it needs to be fixed if they want to have a legitimate shot at a deep run come March.