Observations: Listless Buckeyes Still Get W

The Buckeyes played perhaps their worst game of the season Friday, but still earned a 17-point win. Here's what to take away from a lethargic performance.

Ohio State didn’t play well Friday. The Buckeyes shot just 41.3 percent for the game, nearly 20 percentage points below the nation-leading mark they came in with. They missed their last eight 3-pointers. And yet, Ohio State left with yet another double digit win, this one by the mark of 73-56, and a perfect 5-0 record. Heading into the team’s biggest game of the young season against No. 6 Louisville Tuesday, here’s what I took away from a pretty lethargic win.
  • Not enough sharing: The Buckeyes assisted on seven of their first eight field goals during their hot start to the game, but finished with a total of just 13 helpers. That means Ohio State assisted on six of their final 18 buckets. Some of that was a result of getting out in transition, but the Buckeyes poor ball movement compounded their lack of aggression and contributed to their poor shooting numbers.

  • Bench letdown: Matta praised the play of Jae’Sean Tate off the bench after the win Friday, but acknowledged that the reserves did not bring the same energy they had in the first four games. Matta also left his starting unit in the game longer Friday, not making his first substitution until more than six minutes had run off the clock.

  • Tate shines again: While the bench as a whole was disappointing against the Dukes, Tate again was willing to do the dirty work. The freshman finished with six points, five rebounds and two steals in 20 minutes of work. While he was a bit over-aggressive at times on his way to four fouls, his energy was what the Buckeyes needed from all their reserves.

    “I’m a high-motor guy, I bring the juice,” Tate said. “Just try to give us a kick-start when we need it.”

  • Bates-Diop timid: While most of the bench lacked energy, Keita Bates-Diop seemed the most timid of the bench players. So far this season he is the only freshman to truly look overwhelmed for consistent stretches. He finished with 2 points on 1-of-5 shooting. If and when Matta trims his bench, I expect Bates-Diop to be the first to see a reduction of minutes.

  • Louisville Looms:The Buckeyes steady diet of cupcakes comes to a close with Louisville on Tuesday. Ohio State didn’t play well against James Madison, but that may be a good motivating factor entering their game with the No. 6 Cardinals. Earlier this year D’Angelo Russell bounced back forma poor performance against Marquette with a 32-point outburst. If that bounce-back ability translates to the entire roster, they’ll have a chance at the KFC Yum! Center.

    “I think it may possibly grab our guys attention a little bit,” Matta said. “I think every now and then you have a game like this, a little bit lackadaisical and that’s the main thing we talked about after the game was just trusting the system and knowing that it works.

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