Thad Matta entered last Friday’s game against Texas-Arlington wondering how his team would respond when they were finally challenged. He got his answer, and it wasn’t pretty.
The Buckeyes (2-1) fell 73-68 to the Mavericks after never trailing in their first two contests. Now Ohio State must prepare for an 8 p.m. tipoff with Louisiana Tech – a team that has already defeated UT-Arlington – and Matta is wondering how his team will respond.
“Practice yesterday was good but we practiced well last week and didn’t play well,” Matta said Monday. “We’ve got to try to get that collectively together in terms of how we practice is how we play. We’ve got to get that together.”
The Bulldogs (3-0) are scoring 87 points per game this season with their ball-screen offense. The Buckeyes expect to see a press defense, Matta said, while La. Tech will employ a 3-2 and a 1-2-2 zone.
Ohio State struggled with the zone defense against the Mavericks, and the Buckeyes shot just 41.8 percent in the loss.
Jae’Sean Tate said that the defeat can be used as a learning tool and that it was responsibility of the team’s leaders – himself, Marc Loving, Keita Bates-Diop and Kam Williams – to make sure the Buckeyes respond.
“We can use this as a learning tool,” Tate said. “Just getting back to what we do, playing with that chip on our shoulder. We’ve just got to learn from it. It stung so I feel like from now on we’re going to come out with that energy and intensity and won’t let it happen again.
“The sky’s the limit with this team: athletic ability and talent wise. We’ve just got to get on the same page. We just have to come out with that toughness and energy and I think that’s what we have to key on. With that, the sky’s the limit.”
Matta said that he has no set starting lineup moving forward and is certainly open to making changes. Through three games the starting five has consisted of Tate, Loving, Bates-Diop, Trevor Thompson and JaQuan Lyle.
Matt said that regardless of who starts the game, every player needs to do a better job of responding to in-game teaching and coaching. After tonight’s game, Matta will know how his young teams responds to a loss.