It’s an old story at this point. The Ohio State basketball team played a close game and couldn’t finish it out, losing another close one, this time at Rutgers 68-64 after taking the game into overtime.
The chances were there, but the Buckeyes once again had some self-inflicted wounds and a lack of playmaking ability down the stretch. The two biggest issues were an inability to corral rebounds in the second half and an inability to knock down shots.
An offense that analytics said was one of the best in the country has really struggled over the last couple of games, often resorting to isolation plays and no ball movement against a team that thrives in 1:1 defensive sets. This time, it resulted in a shooting percentage of only 34.3% from the field.
As bad as the offense was, the defense came to play in a place that’s awfully hard to win at. Ohio State held the Scarlet Knights to 33.9% but gave up far too many trips to the line. In fact, that’s where the game was won. Rutgers hit 20-of-27 shots with everyone standing still, while the Buckeyes scored just 10 points on 12 attempts at the free throw line.
Freshman sensation Brice Sensabaugh once again led Ohio State in scoring but got off to a slow start, coming off the bench to try and shake things up. He finished with 20 points on 6-of-11 shooting and pulled down eleven rebounds to finish with a double-double. Sean McNeil and Zed Key were the only other OSU players that finished in double figures, each with 11 points.
With the loss, Ohio State is in a precarious position when it comes to the NCAA Tournament. There’s plenty of time left to right the ship, but with a fourth straight loss, the Buckeyes fall to 10-7 overall, and just 2-4 in Big Ten play.
It won’t get any easier in the Big Ten. The Bucks next head to Lincoln to face Nebraska on Wednesday. They need a win in the worst way.
Let us know your thoughts, and comment on this story below. Join the conversation today.