Can Ohio State Cure What Ails It?

By Jeff Rapp, January 19th, 2016

Thad Matta, we feel your pain.

Watching the young Ohio State men’s basketball Buckeyes impersonate lost lambs on the road is becoming habit. Horrible first halves at UConn and Indian led to embarrassment, and OSU didn’t appear to learn much from the spankings when it ventured to Maryland over the weekend.

The Buckeyes gave up 48 first-half points for the second straight time on the road and were shelled by a loaded Terrapins squad, 100-65, marking the worst loss in the Matta era and the first time an Ohio State team allowed a Big Ten foe to go triple figures on it since Purdue mashed OSU 107-75 back in 1998.

Ohio State was just learning how to play for Jim O’Brien back then and had to suffer through an 8-22 season before moving into The Schott and stunningly advancing to the Final Four the very next year.

How low this OSU team will sink or how capable the Buckeyes are of rising up in the near future both are to be determined. For now, OSU is 12-7 overall and 4-2 in the Big Ten heading into a trip to Purdue on Thursday.

With an opportunity to recap the week, which also included a 94-68 home win over lowly Rutgers and a triple-double by point guard Jaquan Lyle, SRU editor Jeff Rapp joined the panel on 610 WTVN’s “Bucksline” on Monday evening to discuss the state of OSU hoops.

Accompanying host Matt McCoy and longtime basketball analyst — and former Ohio State captain — Tony White, Rapp pointed out that the Buckeyes have just two top-30 scorers in the conference: junior forward Marc Loving (13.9 points per game, 14th) and sophomore forward Keita Bates-Diop (12.0 pig, 27th).

At the moment, OSU also has no one in the top 15 of the Big Ten in field-goal percentage and only reserve Kam Williams is among the league leaders in three-point percentage.

The lack of a go-to guy has hurt OSU against topflight opposition, Rapp surmised, along with the rough road starts and disappearing big men trick.

The panel agreed that the Buckeyes need to again lean on their defense, which served them well during a seven-game win streak this season. Despite the bombings at UConn, IU and Maryland, OSU still ranks fourth in the Big Ten in field-goal percentage defense (39.5), second in blocked shots per game (5.8) and fourth in steals (6.4).

But the ongoing refrain of the program was toughness, or Ohio State’s apparent lack of it. White said that is top priority for this team going forward. Other topics during the show included Matta’s recruiting efforts in recent years, the role of Loving, and the avalanche effect the Buckeyes have displayed in key road games this season.

For a commercial-free replay of the program, click the line below:

1-18 Basketball Bucksline