Rutgers Observations: Lyle Gets Triple-Double

JaQuan Lyle did something against Rutgers that only three other Ohio State players have ever done.

When JaQuan Lyle was tasked with replacing D’Angelo Russell for Ohio State, he had big shoes to fill. Now Lyle has matched last year’s No. 2 overall pick in the NBA draft in at least one area.

When the freshman scored 16 points with 12 rebounds and 11 assists last night against Rutgers he joined Russell as the only first-year players in Ohio State history to record a triple-double and the only two Buckeyes to do so against a conference opponent, both marks coming against the Scarlet Nights.

Lyle said he had a sense that the impressive stat line was coming. At halftime the point guard was the only Buckeye in double figures with 11 points while a double-double was already locked up as the freshman had 10 first-half rebounds. All that was missing was the assists as Lyle finished the first 20 minutes with four.

“The first half, I knew I made some shots and Coach (Thad) Matta got on the team at halftime about rebounding. He called everybody out saying we had 14 rebounds as a team and I had 10 of them. That let me know I had 10 rebounds,” Lyle said. “As far as assists, I really didn’t know that, but I was just playing the way I play, getting teammates involved and then once the opportunity presented itself, they let me know.

“As far as recording one, it’s just a great thing to do, but just got to keep getting better every day and hopefully I can get another one.”

If he were to record a second triple-double he would join Evan Turner as the only Buckeyes to record multiple triple-doubles as Turner recorded two in his time in Columbus. Ohio State has had a total of five triple-doubles in program history with the first coming from Dennis Hopson.

After a rest Lyle checked back in to the game with 6:44 remaining, still needing four assists to get the triple-double.

“The coaches told me I needed four more [assists] and the guys helped me out with that by finishing the plays,” Lyle said. “Yeah, I knew.”

The point guard assisted on a Kam Williams layup on his first offensive possession after checking in and found Keita Bates-Diop for a layup the next time down the floor. Just less than a minute later he found Jae’Sean Tate for a layup, moving him within an assist of the historic night. Two possessions later he got it, finding Tate in transition for his tenth assist, adding an 11th on the next possession for good measure.

The night against Rutgers puts Lyle in elite category. While no one is going to confuse him with Russell, Lyle is steadily developing into the type of well-rounded player the Buckeyes need. He might rebound as well as Russell, though teammates facetiously chastised him for stealing rebounds. I don’t think he scores or passes on Russell’s level, but if he can continue to do a solid impression of last year’s standout freshman the Buckeyes are in good shape.

Other Observations

Dismal first half: While Ohio State pulled away for a comfortable win, I can’t talk about the game against the Scarlet Knights without addressing the terrible first half.

It’s pretty obvious that this edition of the Buckeyes can defend at a passable level when they want to, but that desire isn’t consistently there. The fact that a terrible Scarlet Knights team cracked 40 in the first half is embarrassing and Tate and Matta both said effort was an issue in the first 20 minutes. Clearly.

Harris gets up: reserve point guard A.J. Harris is listed at 5-9 and he did this last night.

That’s pretty ridiculous. I’m slightly over 6-0 and can’t touch the rim. There are reasons I don’t play college basketball, and that’s just one of them.

“I ain’t seen that since high school,” Tate said of the slam. “I didn’t know he still had it putting on that weight.”

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