Before the season, the meeting between Ohio State and Memphis in Miami, Florida, for the HoopHall Miami Invitational was seen as a premium nonconference affair.
The teams have been mainstays in the NCAA tournament in recent years, led by a great deal of athleticism.
However, for whatever reason, each team has failed to live up to the standards attached with its gaudy prestige this season.
The Buckeyes and Tigers each came into the game 2-2, with a mutual loss to mid-major University of Texas-Arlington. The teams continued their shaky showings of the 2015-16 campaign on Friday, but Memphis ended up hanging on in overtime for an 81-76 victory.
The game was an up-and-down ride for both teams, highlighted by turnovers and fouls.
An 11-4 run early in the first few minutes of the second half enabled the Buckeyes to open up a nine-point lead, but, as a model of the inconsistency shown so far this year, a 14-2 run by the Tigers put coach Josh Pastner’s team back on top. That Memphis (3-2) run was highlighted by OSU turnovers on five of six possessions.
The Buckeyes (2-3) answered back from there, clamping down on defense to take a four-point lead into the under-eight minute timeout.
Not to be outdone or buck the roller-coaster trend, Memphis answered with a 9-0 run to grab a five-point lead with just over four minutes left.
OSU later found itself trailing by three with under a minute left, but a 3-point make by sophomore forward Keita Bates-Diop knotted the game at 75.
The Buckeyes forced Memphis junior forward Shaq Goodwin to miss a turnaround jumper on the ensuing possession, giving the Scarlet and Gray the ball with a seven-second difference between game and shot clock.
Lyle airballed a floater with the shot clock expiring, which was caught by Goodwin, who immediately launched the ball the length of the court after losing track of the game clock.
Goodwin was whistled for a travel on the full-court heave, but a review found that the shot clock went off before the rebound, giving the Tigers the ball. The shot as time expired fell short, however, sending the game to overtime.
The ability for either team to put the ball in the basket largely disappeared in overtime. Goodwin hit a jumper early and the Tigers did not hit another shot, but that turned out to be all they needed, as that first made shot never came for the Scarlet and Gray in overtime, sealing the loss. OSU missed all five of its shot attempts in overtime.
For the game, OSU coughed the ball up 19 times, compared to Memphis’s 15 turnovers. OSU also committed more fouls, 28-22.
Despite its inconsistency, OSU was rescued by a star performance from freshman guard JaQuan Lyle, as well as a pair of sharpshooters off the bench.
Lyle led the way with 18 points on 8-of-14 shooting, while also chipping in eight assists. He received help in the second half from redshirt sophomore guard Cam Williams and freshman guard Austin Grandstaff, who combined for three 3-pointers in the latter stanza when the momentum was shifting away from the Buckeyes.
Memphis was kept alive by its dominance at the free-throw line, hitting on 28 of 36 shots at the charity stripe. Goodwin and senior guard Ricky Tarrant Jr. led the way at the line for the Tigers, hitting nine and 14 shots, respectively.
Goodwin was also the leading scorer for the Tigers with a career-high 23 points, hitting seven of 10 field-goal attempts as well as all nine tries at the line. However, he was hindered by foul trouble throughout the second half.
Junior forward Marc Loving was the leading scorer for the Buckeyes behind Lyle, scoring 17 points, including a pair of 3-pointers. For the game, the Buckeyes were 9-of-22 from beyond the arc, but just 11-of-19 from the free throw line, continuing their struggles there.
The Buckeyes’ bid to end their losing ways is unlikely to get any easier, as they are next set to host No. 12 Virginia on Tuesday at the Schottenstein Center. Tip-off is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.