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tBBC 2nd Thoughts: Buckeyes – Spartans


2nd Thoughts: Buckeyes – Spartans
via our good friends at Buckeye Battle Cry
Visit their fantastic blog and read the full article (and so much more) here


(Image courtesy spartanavenue.com)

Yes, Denzel is pretty good, isn’t he?

The Buckeyes (18-11, 10-6) had a valiant first half, but eventually were bombed into submission by an unworldly 3-pt efficiency by the Spartans (23-5, 10-5). Michigan State held a narrow halftime lead, 36-31, but overpowered Ohio State with 45 second-half points. Spartan guard Bryn Forbes scored 20 second half points on 7-9 FG, 6-8 3-pt shooting. Forbes scored 27 points overall on 9-14, 7-10 shooting. My god, that’s incredible!

Certainly not to take anything away from Michigan State’s performance, but Ohio State was missing a key player Tuesday night, Jae’Sean Tate. Jae’Sean reportedly aggravated an earlier shoulder injury against Nebraska. Tate did not dress for the game. Mickey Mitchell got his first career start in place of Tate.

Viewing Experience

The first half was better than the second half. Aside from ESPN’s atrocious camera angles, this was a good experience. This game had some interesting statistics. For example:

  • Rebounds-MSU 30,OSU 28. I’m not going to get worked up over this too much. Michigan State is of of the nation’s best rebounding teams, #4 overall in the country, while Ohio State drifts along at #68. In fact, in the 1st half, OSU actually held a 19-17 edge in rebounds.
  • Ball Handling – OSU 11 Turnovers, MSU 9 Turnovers. Actually, this was a pretty clean game by both teams. The problem was OSU’s turnovers provided MSU with a 9 point edge in points off turnovers.
  • Live By The Three (MSU). Michigan State is fairly comfortable shooting 3’s. Their accuracy (43.2%) leads the nation. Against OSU they shot 63%. They made as many 3’s (14) as the Buckeyes shot. On Tuesday, I only wish that MSU had shot 43%…
  • Die By The Three (OSU). The Spartans experienced players showed the young Bucks how to work open off screens and a motion offense. Ohio State defenders got lost way too often in tracking their defensive responsibilities around the court. Michigan State’s perimeter shooting tied a season high in “% made”. The other victim? UM on February 6th.

The Thad Matta Factor

I think that Thad’s job got substantially more complicated, and difficult, with Jae’sean declared out for the season. With an eleven-man squad, ten-man at this point, the positional groupings look like this:

  • Guard: JaQuan Lyle, A.J. Harris, Kam Williams, Joey Lane
  • Center: Trevor Thompson, Daniel Giddens, David Bell
  • Forward: Marc Loving, Kieta Bates-Diop, Mickey Mitchell

That’s it. Are there moments when Thad goes “small” with Lyle spelling one of the Forwards? Does he go “big” with one of the Centers spelling one of the Guards? I think that Mitchell is capable of being a passable “off guard” in this situation, so maybe the latter scenario. We’ll see…

I guess the positive to come out of this is that, for the remaining games this season, the young players will get baptized by playing significant minutes in meaningful games. Yes, they’ll make mistakes, but they aren’t going to learn anything by sitting on the bench.

There are 2 games remaining in the regular season. For Thad to get to another 20-win season, the Buckeyes have to split and get a win in the B1G tourney. They host Iowa on Saturday and visit MSU on Tuesday.

IF the B1G Tournament were to be played today, here are likely match-ups:

  • Seeded at #6, Ohio State plays winner of #11 (Penn State) and #14 (Rutgers). Neither team is a ‘gimme’, but let’s assume that Ohio State wins that match.
  • Next up is #3 seed, Maryland. Thad will need to catch lightning in a bottle for this win. I don’t think he does.

The Three Two Magi:

I was glad to see Marc Loving step up to provide significant offense with a team high 19 points. He wasn’t credited with that many shots (4-8), but his insistence to go to the basket resulted in him drawing fouls and going a spectacular 10-10 from the foul line. He seemed much more engaged in the game, although with his inscrutable personality it’s sometimes hard for me to tell. However, he did go ‘high-effort’ in a game when it was needed. I’ll let his play speak positively for itself.

Kieta Bates-Diop had a decent enough line score; he tallied 8 points and 9 rebounds. Part of the problem was that KBD was only 3-9 from the field. His FG attempts were about half what he took against Rutgers when he scored 24 points, With JST out for the season (below), Kieta needs to produce Rutgers-like games from here on out.

As mentioned earlier, Jae’Sean Tate was injured, did not dress for the game, and is out for the season. As we saw on Tuesday, it will be a challenge to replace his a) hustle, b) 11.7 ppg and, c) 6.4 rpg.

Lineup Mix-n-Match:

Thad’s job just got a good bit tougher on Tuesday with the announcement of Tate’s season-ending injury. Yes, I’ve been harping on it in this article. However, when you lose the teams 3rd leading scorer, 2nd leading rebounder and leading ‘diver for loose balls’, it will have an impact.

Freshman Mickey Mitchell, starting in place of Jae’Sean Tate did not have a good game. He did not look comfortable handling the ball in (point-blank) shooting situations and appeared to fumble away a few quick “grab & shoot” opportunities. I’m sure that nerves and excitement played a role in it. Just take a deep breath, Mickey.

Another freshman that didn’t do too well was A.J. Harris. He appeared to be wanting to “make” too many plays instead of setting up the situation to let the play make itself. He had a terrible turnover when he tried to drive the lane, but the MSU wing defender slid over and slapped the ball away. He had two missed layups when he tried to force it going down the left side of the lane. Again, A.J., just take a deep breath.

Kam Williams (3-4 FG, 2-3 3-pt) scored 8 points to help a bit, but my god, did Bryn Forbes ever teach him the finer points of curling off screens and shooting from the perimeter.

Ball Control:

The Buckeyes had 11 turnovers, with 4 coming in the 1st half when the teams were playing at about an even level. The Spartans forced 7 Buckeye turnovers in the 2nd half, and the were costly. The 2nd half turnovers provided an 11-4 ‘points off turnovers’ margin in favor of Michigan State.

Ohio State lost the “points off turnovers” battle 16-7. Since there was very little difference in turnovers (11 OSU, 9 MSU), the Spartans clearly made better use of their opportunities. It’s one thing to lose possessions, it’s quite another to give up points while doing so. In a game where there was little to no room for error, these errors were telling.

Interior play, Center(s) of Attention:

The Buckeyes had mixed results with their interior play. Trevor and Daniel could have rebounded better (4 total rebounds), but they took care of the ball (2 turnovers), but could have scored better (11 points).

Despite a lack of sizzling statistics, they did provide substantial effort and a defensive presence, particularly in the 1st half. Ohio State held their own against one of the best rebounding teams in the country, and Trevor/Daniel played their part.

David Bell did not see any playing time.

Up Next…

The Buckeyes (18-11, 10-6) host #8 Iowa (20-6, 11-3) for a Saturday afternoon. Tip off is scheduled for 4:00 PM ET. You can catch the game on CBS, 97.1 or Gametracker. The Hawkeyes play Wisconsin on Wednesday.

The post 2nd Thoughts: Buckeyes – Spartans appeared first on The Buckeye Battle Cry: Ohio State News and Commentary.

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