After finally getting a win Saturday, their first in 18 days, the Buckeyes are trying to put together a winning streak.
Ohio State (3-4) topped Virginia Military Institute 89-62 to snap a four-game losing streak and welcomes Air Force (6-2) to Value City Arena tonight for an 8 p.m. tipoff.
While the Buckeyes got a 27-point win, there was plenty to work on after the VMI game, sophomore Jae’Sean Tate said.
“Yeah we watched a couple things on it, see what we could improve on,” the forward said of the game film from the win. “Our turnovers were down, half of our average, but there were still some learning points in there where we had some unforced errors.
“Personally I think we had another level to us, but a win is a win. We can’t rest on our laurels, we can’t rest on this win because teams are just going to continue to get better so we just got to go in today, look at Air Force and try to get this win streak going.”
When the Buckeyes have won this season, they’ve won big. Ohio State’s three victories have come by an average of over 25 points while the four defeats were by an average of just six points. Magnifying the close losses is the fact that the Buckeyes are the 350th luckiest team out of 351, according to Ken Pomeroy’s rankings.
While the win over VMI got Ohio State back in the win column, Matta said there was no worry of the Buckeyes getting complacent after the 27-point win.
“Coming off of a 27-point win or whatever it was on Saturday, we were able to show our guys a lot of things that we didn’t do as well as we needed to,” Ohio State coach Thad Matta said. “I think that going out, getting after it in practice and if all else fails just mention what our record is and hopefully that’s motivation in itself. A lot of it starts with us and getting them to understand that this team is nowhere near playing its best basketball that we’re going to need to. I think deep down they understand that.”
The Buckeyes will look to get back to .500 against the Falcons, a team that runs a variation of the Princeton offense and averages just 72 points per game.
On the other end of the court Air Force will test the Buckeyes with a multitude of defenses.
“Defensively, they’ve shown a lot of different defenses just in terms of man, zone, 1-3-1, 3-2, 2-3, matchup so our guys just have to recognize and be ready to go,” Matta said.
Air Force is led by Trevor Lyons who averages 15.3 points per game while Hayden Graham (14.9) and Zach Moer (10.4) also average double figures. Graham adds 8.9 rebounds per game despite standing just 6-5.
The Buckeyes will have their primary post player back for the game against the Falcons. Daniel Giddens missed the win over VMI with an illness, but Matta said the freshman will be back for tonight’s game.
The first win since Nov. 17 made the locker room a more positive place, Tate said, but the team knows there is plenty of work left to do.
“We definitely have more positive practices, people getting their confidence back,” the forward said. “At the end of the day we still have a losing record, that’s still in the back of our heads so we’ve still got a lot of work to do and everybody knows that.”