The stat sheet says that the Buckeyes were 11 of 20 from the floor in the second half and 6 of 12 from deep. That is good for 55.0 and 50.0 percent, respectively. In addition, the Buckeyes scored five more points than they did in the first half.
But what my eyes tell me is that OSU stopped working the ball around and getting the shots that it needed to win the game against the Spartans in the second half. In particular, that was evident during a stretch after the under-12 media timeout when the visitors put together a run that the Buckeyes could not match.
While the Spartans turned a 50-48 OSU lead into a 59-52 Spartan lead, the Buckeyes had missed three-pointers taken by Jon Diebler, William Buford and Jeremie Simmons. All three of those could have been better shots that could have helped stem the MSU lead. Instead, it seemed to me that the Buckeyes panicked and started hoisting up from deep.
The OSU offense did not perform at the level it needed to in the second half regardless of what the statistics show.
I think … that if Ohio State does not rise to the occasion during the next two weeks, this Buckeye team will quickly find itself headed back to the postseason NIT.
Entering Sunday's game against Michigan State, the Buckeyes found themselves preparing for a stretch where four of their next fives games will be played within the friendly confines of Value City Arena. Entering the stretch an even 3-3 in Big Ten play, a record of 4-1 during the next five games would do wonders for a Buckeye team that is facing increasingly difficult odds to reach 20 wins this season.
The game against the Spartans was one OSU could have – and should have – won. Now the Buckeyes must find a way to protect their home court against three more conference foes and must also take the fight to the road for a very winnable game against Indiana.
But if the Buckeyes do not take home their next four games, I'm not sure I like their chances of making the Big Dance. Without earning a few wins against higher-ranked conference teams, this OSU season is starting to gather a postseason NIT-type of feel to me.
I think … For the second consecutive season, I am watching a Buckeye team that can put it together and play some solid basketball. But also for the second consecutive season, I am watching a Buckeye team that loses track of hot shooters, can not grab an offensive rebound to save its life and has no true go-to scorer when things get tough.
For all the talk of how much this year's team was ahead of last year's from a chemistry standpoint as well as a mental one, I'm just not buying it as much as I was earlier this year. Of course, I think the loss of David Lighty probably has more than a little bit to do with that.
I think … that as he grows more confident offensively, B.J. Mullens is starting to remind me of one of the less-desirable traits displayed by Kosta Koufos last season: namely, that he loves to shoot the basketball.
I didn't keep an official tally on this, but I think Mullens passed the ball back to the wings just once against the Spartans. On that pass, the Buckeyes got a three-pointer from Jon Diebler. Other than that, the freshman center has figured out how to score in college and is not passing up any opportunities to try and do so.
I like this approach better than what we saw out of Mullens in the first half of the year, when he looked clueless with the ball, but I don't like the single-mindedness he is starting to display. He needs to learn when to attack the basket and when to kick it back outside – especially when he is nowhere near position to take a good shot.
I think … that Evan Turner truly gets "it" when it comes to his teammates and his university. The kid plays with heart and passion, and losses seem to really affect him. Last year, it was a teary-eyed Turner who addressed the media at one point after another difficult loss. Following this game against the Spartans, I thought the sophomore might tear up again.
This guy wants to win so bad it's killing him.