Observing An Ohio State Winning Streak

Ohio State dominated Air Force Tuesday, giving the Buckeyes exactly what they needed.

As Tuesday's game unfolded it became increasingly obvious that Air Force was not a good basketball team.

The Falcons shot just 33.3 percent for the game, missed 11 3-point attempts and turned the ball over 18 times against the Buckeyes, trying 15 different players in the process.

As Air Force struggles through multiple field goal droughts of over five minutes in the first half it was apparent that it wouldn't be challenging Ohio State. The Buckeyes would roll to their second straight win and get back to .500 on the season with the 75-50 victory.

Maybe that's exactly what the Buckeyes needed.

“Any win is a good win," coach Thad Matta said when asked if it was good to see his team have fun. "But as I told the guys we played tonight like we practice and we haven’t always done that. I thought we had two really good practices. When the guys walked out last night I think they felt really good about what they had going in to the game, there’s no question about that.

"I still think with this basketball team with what’s coming ahead we’ve got to keep finding ways to get better. We’ve got to keep the mindset that we have to keep doing all the little things and we’re getting better at scouting, we’re getting better at understanding that there is a quote-unquote gameplan coming in that we are trying to execute.”

With a road game against Connecticut coming Saturday and a neutral court contest with Kentucky looming Dec. 19, things might not stay fun for long, but on Tuesday the Buckeyes got to enjoy a big win and see the fruits of their labor to improve in practice.

"No matter who we’re playing we have to play Ohio State basketball," Matta said. "Obviously regardless of whoever we’re playing, going to Connecticut on Saturday we have to do the things that we’re supposed to do."

The Buckeyes played their game against Air Force, dominating in all facets. Here are my major takeaways from the win.

Big Rotation: While not matching the 15 players that Air Force played, Matta used 10 different players on the night and nine in the first half. That was without the services of starter Daniel Giddens as he sat with a hamstring strain.

Those nine players each got at least five minutes in the first half and that was with just one player -- Jae'Sean Tate -- dealing with any sort of foul trouble. That allowed us to get our second consecutive extended look at Dave Bell, who finished with 7 points and 3 rebounds.

While some combinations didn't work -- one featuring Kam Williams, A.J. Harris, Marc Loving and Bell comes to mind -- it was nice to see Matta experiment.

A Tentative Lyle: There were multiple occasions that JaQuan Lyle appeared to have a clear shot and didn't take it, in at least one case opting for a clearly more difficult look. The point guard, who finished with 12 points and five rebounds, couldn't explain the timid reactions.

"I hear it from all of (the whole team) telling me to shoot the ball," he said. "I don’t know what goes through my head when I be wide open and don’t shoot and then shoot an even tougher shot. I don’t even know how to answer that.”

I'm betting that hesitation will pace and Lyle will begin to assert himself more as the season goes along.

Double-Doubles: For the second straight game Loving recorded a double-double. He has three in his career and all have come this season as he has been playing in the post more, a move that compliments his lethal shot.

Loving went just 1 for 5 from three Tuesday, with the one coming on a half-court heave as the first half expired, but finished with a game-high 18 and 10 rebounds.

"I thought that he did a great job of playing inside out," Matta said of Loving. "I know he can shoot the ball, but he kind of took what the defense was giving him tonight, which was down low, especially in the second half.”


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