Ohio State did nearly everything coach Thad Matta had been asking for against No. 10 Virginia Tuesday night.
The Buckeyes brought energy, communicated defensively and cut down on fouls and turnovers, but poorly timed mistakes against one of the top 10 teams in the country meant Ohio State didn’t get the win.
The Cavaliers (6-1) shot lights out from three and countered every Buckeye run despite missing starting point guard London Perrantes, earning a 64-58 win over Ohio State (2-4) in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge to hand the Buckeyes their fourth consecutive defeat.
“I think the biggest thing for us is we can’t take steps backwards,” Matta said. “I think we’re making some strides in the right direction but as I told them, it would be the biggest travesty if they took a step backwards in terms of our progress
“We probably executed better tonight than we have but we made some mistakes.”
Against a talented Virginia team, the mistakes were still too frequent.
The Buckeyes did show resolve, using a 10-3 run that was capped off by a Marc-Loving three-point play with 13:20 left in the second halt to take a 42-40 advantage, but the Cavaliers would answer and Ohio State would never regain the lead.
Virginia went on an 8-1 run of its own that coincided with a Buckeye field goal drought of over four minutes and gave the Cavaliers a 48-43 advantage.
The Buckeyes responded with threes from JaQuan Lyle and Loving sandwiched around a jumper from Virginia’s Devon Hall. That pulled Ohio State within one at 50-49 with 8:20 remaining, but the Buckeyes turned the ball over on their next possession and followed that with four straight missed three pointers. By the time Loving broke the 4:23 scoring drought Virginia had built a 57-51 lead with just 3:57 left.
“I thought the shots that we got there were good shots,” Matta said of that stretch. “There was a method to what we were trying to do and when you play against a team defensively like Virginia where they just load everything in the drives and the kicks are the shots that are going to be there.
“That was just a stretch that they wouldn’t go in. We probably didn’t do as good a job as we needed at the end of the shot clock. We had a couple actions we were trying to run but we were a little bit slow trying to get to them.”
The problems that had plagued the Buckeyes throughout the season returned over the final four minutes as Ohio State committed three turnovers and two fouls in the crucial minutes before the team was forced to foul four more times down the stretch to send the Cavaliers to the line and extend the game.
Loving did his best to carry the Buckeyes, scoring 14 of his team-high 19 points in the second half, but he couldn’t match Virginia’s Malcolm Brogdon. A second-team All-American last season, the Cavaliers guard started both halves hot and finished with 22 points on six made 3-pointers.
As a team the Cavs were hot from behind the arc, hitting 8 of 15 from distance compared to 15 of 36 from inside the line. The inefficiency on two-pointers kept Virginia to its lowest point total of the season while the Buckeyes shot 50 percent, the highest any Cavaliers opponent this season.
Bates-Diop followed Loving in the scorer's column, netting 15, while Jae’Sean Tate added 12 and eight rebounds. No other Buckeye had more than five points.