Duke used a late first-half run to gain a 39-29 lead at intermission and never relinquished it until the final buzzer sounded as Ohio State fell 81-72 on Wednesday night in an ACC/Big Ten Challenge matchup. It was a tough game for the Buckeyes, but one where they had their chances to win. Here are five things we learned during OSU’s loss to the Blue Devils.
Turnovers Ohio State's their chances for an upset
Nov 30, 2022; Durham, North Carolina, USA; Ohio State Buckeyes guard Bruce Thornton (2) moves up court as Duke Blue Devils guard Jaylen Blakes (2) defends during the first half at Cameron Indoor Stadium. Credit: Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports
It’s hard to go into a tough road environment and pull off a win — you can argue that Cameron Indoor Stadium is more than that. When you commit 16 turnovers, it makes the job that much more difficult. The Buckeyes had some bad turnovers that led to some easy Duke buckets. If the turnover number was closer to 10, this game very well could have had a different outcome.
Duke’s bench scoring made a huge difference
Nov 30, 2022; Durham, North Carolina, USA; Duke Blue Devils center Ryan Young (15) controls the ball in front of Ohio State Buckeyes forward Brice Sensabaugh (10) during the first half at Cameron Indoor Stadium. Credit: Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports
Freshman Brice Sensabaugh came into this game averaging almost 16 points and four rebounds. He finished the game with more fouls than points, having fouled out with just four points and one rebound. The three other non-starting Buckeyes that played against the Blue Devils totaled 5 points. Duke’s bench, on the other hand, had 26 points and 12 rebounds. The Blue Devils’ depth showed and helped them win this close game.
Can’t afford for Key to be hurt long term
Mandatory Credit: Joseph Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports
Ohio State center Zed Key came out late in the game favoring his shoulder. If my lip reading was correct, as he came back from the tunnel, he said he was fine. Let’s hope that is the case because if there is one player that the Buckeyes can ill afford to lose, it’s him. Key was fantastic, scoring 21 points along with 8 rebounds and 3 blocks, all that while playing with foul trouble for the majority of the game.
The good news is that he came back into the game after the scare and finished without looking like there was anything too serious going on, so that’s a very, very good thing.
Three point shooting was bad
Nov 30, 2022; Durham, North Carolina, USA; Ohio State Buckeyes head coach Chris Holtmann reacts to a call during the first half against the Duke Blue Devils at Cameron Indoor Stadium. Credit: Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports
When you play a team the caliber of Duke, you have to do certain things in order to defeat it, and one of those things is shooting the three well. The Buckeyes went 3-of-13 beyond the arc, good for 23.1%. Sean McNeil took the majority of those shots, making just 2-of-7, many of them looked like rushed attempts. If the Buckeyes hit 33% of these attempts, they would have made this a much closer affair.
Duke is better than its current ranking
Nov 30, 2022; Durham, North Carolina, USA; Duke Blue Devils head coach Jon Scheyer (right) talks to center Dereck Lively (1) during the first half against the Ohio State Buckeyes at Cameron Indoor Stadium. Credit: Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports
This is a good sign for the Buckeyes, even with a loss. Duke had a clear height advantage, but OSU only had three fewer rebounds (34-31). The home team shot 38.5% from three and won the turnover battle which helped propel it to a win. I could see this Duke team getting to the Elite 8, making their current ranking of 17 much lower than it would seem. The Buckeyes hopefully will learn from this game and come out the other side better for it.