Ohio State's men's basketball team wrapped up exhibition play on a sour note Thursday night, dropping an 80-77 decision in overtime to the EA Sports All-Stars before 12,515 at Value City Arena.
The Buckeyes shot 57.8 percent from the floor in defeating the Coaches vs. Cancer All-Stars 95-87 in their first exhibition last week. But they made just 41.7 percent of their shots (30 of 72) against an EA Sports team that was just 2-6 on its exhibition tour coming in. EA played at Ohio State one night after losing at Kentucky 94-61.
"I told them they were very, very luck this was an exhibition game," OSU coach Jim O'Brien said. "We certainly would have lost one of these early season games and that would not have been good for us. Perhaps this gets their attention a little bit and they get an idea of just where we are, versus where they think they might be or where everyone else has been telling them where they are."
Terence Dials led Ohio State with 18 points and nine rebounds, hitting 9 of 18 shots from the floor. J.J. Sullinger added 17 points. Tony Stockman, 5 of 14 from the floor including 5 of 11 on three-pointers, and Matt Sylvester, 3 of 5 on treys, each added 15 points.
"I guess you could say it doesn't count," Sylvester said. "But to us it all counts. There are no excuses we can make. We played flat. Give them credit. It really hurts to lose a game. But thank God it was an exhibition and not a Big Ten game or a game at the Maui Classic or the game at San Francisco (OSU's opener next Friday).
"We have such high expectations. Maybe we let it go to our heads. That word potential means a lot. But you still have to come out and play every single night."
Greg Grays, formerly of Detroit, and Al Faux, formerly of San Diego State, led EA Sports with 22 points each.
Center Velimir Radinovic finished with just three points for OSU, missing all six of his shots from the floor.
"By our count, we missed 17 shots inside the broken line (around the basket) in the second half," O'Brien said. "Velimir only got six shots. I fault the guards for that. Our perimeter guys need to understand it's not just about them. The ball has to go inside. We were nowhere near as unselfish as we were in the first game. We had some opportunities around the basket, but we couldn't put them in the basket."
OSU led 69-64 in the final minute of regulation. But the Buckeyes missed the front end of a key one-and-one, turned the ball over once and watched as EA Sports' Grays hit a game-tying three-pointer with 11.1 seconds left.
"We haven't done much of that (end of game planning) this year," O'Brien said. "I don't know if that was a big issue. But we mishandled it. You've got make free throws and defend at the end."
OSU trailed for much of the first half, falling behind by as many as nine at 19-10 after Grays hit a 14-foot jumper with 13:02 left in the half. But OSU gradually climbed back into the game late in the half, taking the lead at 30-28 on a three-point shot by Stockman with 5:01 left.
After Sullinger made a pair of free throws, Grays canned a three to cut it to 32-31 with 4:14 left. OSU then reeled off six unanswered points. Sullinger made a free throw before he caught an alley oop from Stockman and delivered a two-hand flush. Stockman then completed the run with a three-pointer to put OSU up 38-31 with 2:41 left in the half.
EA Sports's Al Faux then hit a three, but Stockman answered with a trey of his own with 2:08 left. Lonnie Jones then made a turnaround shot to cut the OSU lead to 41-36 with 1:48 left. Sylvester then scored on a layup off a Stockman feed to put the Buckeyes up 43-36 with 53 seconds left, but Grays hit another three to cap a 13-point half and cut the margin to 43-39 with 37 seconds left. OSU held it for a final shot, but Sylvester's six footer in the lane missed the mark.
OSU moved ahead 48-42 early in the second half after Stockman buried another three-pointer and Dials scored off a feed from Sullinger. But the Buckeyes went cold, missing 11 straight shots from the floor and going scoreless for six minutes, 16 seconds. Shun Jenkins ended the drought with a rebound basket to cut the EA Sports lead to 51-50 with 12:06 left. Jenkins then gave OSU the lead at 52-51 with a spinning bank shot inside with 10:43 left.
Faux's two free throws with 7:09 left gave EA Sports a 59-58 lead. But OSU regained the lead for good on a Sylvester three-pointer off a feed from Brandon Fuss-Cheatham with 6:34 left.
Dials then rebounded his own miss to put OSU up 63-59 with 5:30 left. EA's Paul Shirley made a pair of free throws with 5:08 left, but Sylvester answered with a running one-hander on the baseline after tracking down a loose ball to put the Buckeyes back up 65-61 with 3:14 left.
Shirley made a free throw with 2:04 left. Then, after Radinovic missed a hook inside, EA's Lonnie Jones made a layup inside to cut the lead to 65-64 with 1:22 left.
OSU called a timeout with 1:15 left. Sullinger dished across the lane to Dials, who swished an 8-foot jumper to put the Buckeyes up 67-64 with 1:03 left. Kameron Sufi then missed a three and Sylvester rebounded and was fouled. He missed the front end of a one-and-one, but Dials rebounded and stuck it in for a 69-64 lead with 43 seconds left.
EA's Jones then scored on a rebound with 23.6 seconds left. Sullinger was fouled, but missed the front end of a one-and-one with 18.4 seconds left. EA's Shirley rebounded the miss and the ball ended up with Grays in the left corner. He drilled a three-pointer to tie the game with 11.1 seconds left.
OSU averted further disaster at the end of regulation. Stockman drove into the lane out of control as time was winding down. He tried to leave the ball for Dials, but it was knocked away. EA's Grays headed the other way, but his heave with just over one second left missed the mark and the game was headed to overtime.
"That was a miscommunication," Dials said. "I should have caught it. I don't think we knew what the situation was. We need to focus on time and score."
EA Sports charged ahead 73-70 after Grays converted a turnover into a layup with 3:50 left in overtime. Stockman answered with a three-pointer to tie it with 2:37 left. Shirley's two free throws with 2:14 left gave EA a 75-73 lead. Then, after a Stockman three-pointer to beat the shot clock missed the mark, Faux hit a running floater down the lane to put EA up 77-73 with 1:09 left.
Sylvester trimmed the gap to 77-75 after hitting a jumper in the lane with 52.7 left. But OSU could not get a stop at the other end. Grays drove down the lane and hit a floater with 29.7 seconds left to put EA up 79-75. Stockman then missed a three at the OSU end. Faux made 1 of 2 free throws for EA. Sullinger's layup with two seconds left closed the scoring.
"We came out sluggish and didn't play hard in the first half," Dials said. "We got down and couldn't come back."
Fuss-Cheatham had five points, six rebounds and five assists for OSU. Shun Jenkins added four points and seven rebounds. Ricardo Billings, Ivan Harris and Charles Bass also played but did not score.
The Buckeyes will open the regular season at San Francisco Nov. 21 (11 p.m.). That is part of the road trip to Hawaii for the Maui Invitational (Nov. 24-26). OSU's home opener will be against Georgia Tech in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge Dec. 3. The Buckeyes will then play a Dec. 6 game against Virginia Tech downtown at the Nationwide Arena.