The Ohio State Buckeyes basketball team should have beaten #12 West Virginia over the weekend. In the end, I think the collapse should have been avoidable. The Buckeyes had a 14-point lead at one point. They also carried a 12 point lead into halftime. Ultimately, the Buckeyes ended up looking tired as their defense failed and they lost the ability to execute on the offensive end.
Buckeyes superstar Evan Turner had an off game. He shot only 6-17 from the field for the game and committed four turnovers. The problem seemed to me that his legs were gone in the second half as he recorded 40 minutes of playing time in the box score. William Buford and David Lighty also played all 40 minutes. Lighty also didn’t have a great game, while Buford went through multiple hot streaks on his way to leading the Bucks with 22 points on 9-13 shooting.
Throughout the game, the Buckeyes were playing a 1-3-1 zone defense. That defense works pretty well for a team that is going to log a lot of minutes. From that perspective I understand why Thad Matta used that defense throughout the game. At the same time, the Buckeyes lack of depth probably kept Matta from abandoning the zone defense and going to the more effective man defense sooner. In the second half, West Virginia started draining their threes and jumpers. That is one of the problems with the zone defense. It is easy to give up long jumpers. Normally giving up long jumpers is preferable to penetration. Unfortunately, the other thing about the zone defense is that it is more difficult to get matched up to box out and get defensive rebounds. Throughout the game the Buckeyes gave up 12 offensive rebounds, which is horrendous.
The problems with this Buckeyes team is a complete lack of depth or an unwillingness by Thad Matta to use his bench. In West Virginia, Matta had three players playing the entire game. He had a mere 19 minutes of playing time from his bench. Compare that with WVU that had 42 minutes of playing time from its bench players. Maybe Matta actually did give the Buckeyes their best chance to win by playing it the way he did over the weekend, but it doesn’t seem likely. The Buckeyes desperately needed to change up their defense at times, and they weren’t willing to do it because man defense is so tiring. Meanwhile players like PJ Hill who played key roles while Evan Turner was injured recorded a DNP Coach’s Decision for the game. Seems senseless to me.
The Buckeyes aren’t in giant trouble after losing to the #12 team on the road, but it seems like such a wasted opportunity. The Buckeyes’ next game is at Iowa on January 27th. After that, things should get a bit easier as the Bucks have three straight Big Ten home games.
Other notes: Stay classy West Virginia. The fans’ chants all game long were less creative than they were just plain vulgar. They were chanting a “A&$hole” every time Evan Turner touched the ball at points during the first half. Then in the second half, as if the first chant wasn’t brash enough, they just decided to start chanting “F%^& you Turner” followed by the old Clap Clap Clap-Clap-Clap. While they were energetic, I don’t think that kind of display is really up to par with the funny, creative cheering that makes a home court advantage. Just cursing isn’t really in the spirit of college athletics, I don’t think. And I am not exactly a puritan. I find any of those fan sections that research players really funny. Just dropping f-bombs on national TV isn’t my idea of hilarity though.