Following Wednesday’s win over Jackson State, Ohio State men’s basketball coach Thad Matta said that he was pleased with where his defense was at, but admitted that the offense needed some touching up. On Friday, OSU put together one of its best overall games in more than a season.
The Buckeyes defeated the Marshall Thundering Herd, 111-70, on Friday at the Schottenstein Center in the final game of the Global Sports Invitational. The Scarlet and Gray scored 60 points in the first half and topped 100 points for the first time since Dec. 27, 2014 against Wright State.
Senior forward Marc Loving and junior forward Jae’Sean Tate led OSU in scoring with 20 points each.
“This has been a good week for this team,” Matta said. “I think we’ve grown and gotten better on both sides of the basketball. Are we there yet, no … but from the standpoint of what we’ve done percentage wise defensively is a good thing for us.”
Marshall entered Friday night’s game averaging 83.8 points per game. The Buckeyes were averaging 56.6 points allowed per game. Something would have to give, and that something favored the Buckeyes.
Marshall’s 70 points was its lowest total yet this season.
OSU had the Thundering Herd on its heels from the beginning. Through the first eight minutes, the Buckeyes scored 27 points and already had a 13-point lead. The hot shooting continued as redshirt junior guard Kam Williams got several looks from 3 and the Scarlet and Gray owned the glass, creating several transition opportunities.
The Buckeyes used a first-half 13-0 run that ended in a 22-5 run to pad its lead to 23 before halftime. Redshirt junior center Trevor Thompson led the team with 15 points at the half. OSU had 30 rebounds in the first half compared to its game average of 38. Williams was 3 of 5 from beyond the arc at half with 11 points.
In the second half, it was more of the same from the Buckeyes. OSU racked up 27 offensive rebounds and freshman center Micah Potter started to make his presence more known. Potter ended the game with 12 points and 12 rebounds in his first career double-double.
“Last game we gave up too many offensive rebounds so the emphasis of just, in practice, doing a lot of box-out drills, doing a lot of rebounding drills,” Thompson said. “That’s the biggest thing that we wanted to do was crash the boards and keep them off the glass and stuff like that.”
Sophomore point guard JaQuan Lyle shook off a rough first half and scored 12 points in the second. He ended the night with six assists.
Loving became the 53rd player in OSU history to surpass 1,000 career points. He also had 14 rebounds.
Loving has had two consecutive games where he has shot above 50 percent from the field. As the only senior on the team, this is the type of production Matta and Loving, himself, is looking for.
“Marc has kind of kicked it in a little bit and hopefully he can continue to not just make shots but … he’s playing better defense too and that’s a good thing for us,” Matta said.
Next on the schedule, the Buckeyes have their toughest test yet, on the road at No. 7 Virginia. OSU lost by six last year in Columbus to the Cavaliers. Loving led that game with 19 points.
Loving said that for the team to have its best game for its biggest game of the year thus far is certainly a boost of morale, but it doesn’t mean much when the teams square off on Wednesday at 9 p.m.
I think I saw their score and Virginia was winning their game by a large margin as well, so both teams will be confident coming into this game,” he said. “We’ll just see who’s better that night.”