On the heels of a loss to top-ranked North Carolina that saw the Buckeyes go ice-cold from the field in the second half, OSU again watched a halftime lead disappear against a ranked opponent.
After leading No. 16 Butler by 10 points at halftime, the Buckeyes again went cold from the floor as the Bulldogs heated up from beyond the arc. It all added up to a 65-46 victory for Butler (7-0), handing unranked OSU (4-3) consecutive losses for the first time since the tail end of the 2005 season under head coach Thad Matta.
"Unbelievable," Matta told the Ohio State Basketball Radio Network. "You talk about the word I've used all year in maturity and we just did not (show it). I told the guys after the game we've got to go back to the drawing board. This team is nowhere near it needs to be."
After the nation's top-ranked three-point shooting team went just 1 for 16 from beyond the arc in the first half, the Bulldogs came out firing in the second. Following a basket by freshman forward Kosta Koufos that increased OSU's lead to 32-20, the Bulldogs hit three consecutive treys to pull within three points at 32-29.
OSU would push its lead to seven points, but Butler then took its first lead of the game after a 14-4 run capped by a trey from Mike Green with 8:11 remaining.
The Bulldogs would never trail again, and they pulled away by putting together a 22-6 game-ending run that saw the Buckeyes looking powerless to do anything to stop them. In the final 20 minutes, OSU was 7 of 24 (29.2 percent) from the field while Butler was 15 of 25 (60.0 percent).
In all, OSU turned the ball over 24 times and the Bulldogs took advantage to the tune of 21 points off those turnovers.
"That's that mentality (we talk about) of taking care of the basketball," Matta said. "It's having the mindset of, ‘I can't drive the ball where there's people there.' It's one of those things that we've just got to continue to find ways to get each guy better, get this team better. When this happens then hopefully we'll be a good basketball team."
The Buckeyes were led by Koufos' 16 points, while sophomore swingman David Lighty had 12 points and senior forward Othello Hunter added 10. Butler was led by freshman forward Matt Howard, who put up a career-high 23 points by finding the soft spot in OSU's zone and frequently finding easy baskets.
What could only be described as a sloppy first half ended with the Buckeyes ahead 30-20. OSU never trailed in the half and led by as many as 14, but the Bulldogs took some momentum in to the second half thanks to their first big shot of the night.
With 22 seconds remaining and the Buckeyes ahead 30-17, sophomore point guard P.J. Hill tried to run out the final seconds and get his team a shot right before the buzzer. He had trouble getting out of a high double team, however, and was whistled for carrying the ball with seven seconds remaining.
Butler inbounded the ball near halfcourt and worked it around the perimeter trying to get a good look at the basket. That finally came when the ball wound up in the hands of Graves, whose off-balance trey from the corner was released just before the buzzer and set the score at 30-20.
It marked the only three pointer of the first half for the Bulldogs. They went 1 for 16 from beyond the arc for the half. In all, the Buckeyes shot 65 percent in the first half compared to 25 percent for the Bulldogs.
In the second half, Butler went 8 of 14 (57.1 percent) from beyond the arc.
The loss marks the end of an 11-day stretch for the Buckeyes that saw them play five games – four against ranked opponents – and go 3-2. They will have nine days off before returning to action against Coppin State on Dec. 10 at Value City Arena.
"The good news is we have time to get some rest and get back to practice," Matta said.