After playing just a combined eight second-half minutes in the first two games of the season, Ohio State sophomore guard JaQuan Lyle responded in a big way Thursday night against Providence.
The Evansville, Ind., native had 15 points in the first half alone. He finished the night with a team-high 21 and played 18 minutes in the second half as the Buckeyes beat the Friars, 72-67.
In the first two contests of the season vs. Navy and North Carolina Central, he scored a total of eight points.
"I think it's pretty obvious I was more aggressive on both sides of the basketball," Lyle said of what the difference was in his game vs. Providence compared to the first two games of the year. "I think with me being more aggressive on the defensive side, it got me going on the offensive side. Also, this week in practice, me and my teammates, coaching staff, they just all kept believing in me, kept my confidence up."
Providence took the lead, 17-16, on three-point shot by junior forward Rodney Bullock with 9:23 left in the first half. Ohio State then finished off the first with a 22-11 run to take a 38-28 halftime lead. Lyle and junior forward Jae'Sean Tate led the charge, scoring a combined 14 points during that stretch. Lyle notched eight points while Tate had the other six.
Bullock hit another three halfway through the second half to trim Ohio State's lead to 50-49. The Buckeyes responded with a 9-0 run that was capped by a critical corner three from junior guard Kam Williams to stretch their lead to 59-49 with 7:52 left in the game.
"I thought we did show some resiliency," OSU head coach Thad Matta said of the nine-point flurry. "We weren't playing as well as I wanted to for stretches in the second half but we found a way, we made the plays that we had to make to win the game."
The closest the Friars would get the rest of the way was two points when sophomore guard Isaiah Jackson hit one from the beyond the arc at the 4:00 mark to make it a 63-61 game.
In addition to his 21 points, Lyle grabbed eight rebounds and dished out seven assists. Tate was second on the team with 14 points on 6-of-14 shooting and junior center Trevor Thompson was not far behind with 12. Senior forward Marc Loving led the team with 10 rebounds.
In the wake of the Buckeyes' third win of the season, junior forward Keita Bates-Diop left the game at the 14:13 mark of the second half with an ankle sprain and is day-to-day, Matta said after the game.