Observations: Buckeyes On a Losing Streak

The Buckeyes are in the midst of a two-game losing streak, with both losses coming at the hands of unranked nonconference opponents. What's going wrong and where can they go from here?

Against Louisiana Tech, it was more of the same.

Ohio State fell 82-74 to the Bulldogs Tuesday night, the second straight loss following Friday's defeat at the hands of UT-Arlington. While the losing streak is concerning for Thad Matta's bunch, the bigger problem is the fact that the same issues continue to crop up.

Ohio State had struggled with turnovers all season. They gave the ball away 14 times leading to 15 points against the Bulldogs.

The Buckeyes had struggled with toughness and hustle. Louisiana Tech hauled in 18 offensive rebounds to 15 by Ohio State.

Communication on defense was a point of emphasis by Matta, but the Bulldogs routinely got dribble penetration and either finished a the rim or found open shooters. 

"I think that we’ve got to look at our weaknesses, admit that we have them and find ways to correct them, to get better at them," Matta said. "As I told them after the game, we have to do a better job teaching you how to play but probably more importantly how to think the game. You can’t have the same things happen over and over and over and over again. You’ve got to get that corrected on the fly."

That's not to mention the continued free-throw struggles. The Buckeyes hit just 17 of their 27 attempts from the line.

Clearly, Ohio State is struggling and it's not just one thing as the Buckeyes' problems continue to add up. Here are my other major takeaways from last night's disappointing loss.

Giddens gets first start: Matta said before the game that he was open to shaking up his starting lineup and did just that Tuesday, inserting Daniel Giddens for Trevor Thompson. Giddens was active throughout the night and finished with 4 points, 8 rebounds and 4 blocks in 27 minutes of action.

“I thought Daniel was pretty good tonight," Matta said. "He’s one guy that you can look out there on the floor and you know who he’s playing for, you know the passion that he has. We keep a lot of different statistics and we felt like Daniel had earned the right to be in the starting lineup tonight.”

The move makes sense as I thought Giddens was the Buckeyes best big by far through the first three games and was again Tuesday. He is the most active and aggressive of the centers and runs the floor the best. I expect him to keep starting, especially after Matta praised him as one of the only Buckeyes to play with emotion after the loss.

Bates-Diop Disappears: While he finished with 12 points and 8 rebounds, Keita Bates-Diop was largely invisible Tuesday. Matta has called for the sophomore to be more aggressive and when he is, he seems to get to the rim with ease.

I still think he has the best upside on the roster offensively and the best bet to be a star on that end, Marc Loving's 25-point night aside. He took just eight shots against the Bulldogs, and was efficient hitting five of them. The fact that three Buckeyes attempted more field goals than him is not a good sign and not something Ohio State should tolerate going forward.

“Yeah I can probably be a little more aggressive. I definitely can," Bates-Diop said after the loss before adding that the Buckeye offense is predicated on spreading the ball around.

Grandstaff Solid: While he still struggles on the defensive end, a trend I imagine will continue throughout the year, Austin Grandstaff played his best game of the season against the Bulldogs. He hit three threes on five attempts to finish with nine points and was never shy about taking them.

The freshman has a nice shot and good energy, even though he has a tendency to let that get him in trouble. With Louisiana Tech playing a small lineup he logged 12 minutes and made the most of them.

He can't defend, but if the Buckeyes aren't going to guard anyone anyway, might as well try the guy who can shoot.


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