Few things have went right for the Ohio State men’s basketball team since Big Ten play began on Jan 1. The Buckeyes have lost three straight games to conference opponents, most recently a 78-68 loss to Minnesota in Williams Arena.
Things will only be getting tougher from here on out for OSU, as the Buckeyes are set to take on No. 18 Wisconsin. Last season, Thad Matta’s team lost 79-68 to the Badgers.
The Badgers are 13-3 this year, and are coming off an 11-point loss to Purdue, a team that OSU lost to by just one point on Thursday. Although Wisconsin was downed by the Boilermakers, there seems little to convince anyone OSU can easily handle a team as dangerous as the Badgers.
After the loss to Purdue, senior forward Marc Loving said he felt confident in OSU’s ability to right the ship this season, regardless of how rocky the start had been.
“We know what we’re capable of,” he said.
Whatever he feels the team is capable of has yet to be seen this season. The Buckeyes have appeared sluggish on defense and disconnected on offense at times.
Even with occasional glimpses into the capability of players like Loving and redshirt senior guard Kam Williams, OSU is shooting a feeble 38.8 percent from the field, with just a 31.8 percent mark from outside the arc.
Williams, who started the year shooting 56 percent from 3-point range through the team’s first six games, has gone just 4-for-14 from 3 since the start of conference play. Although other players like Loving and sophomore guard JaQuan Lyle present a perimeter threat, the lack of outside scoring has stifled the Buckeyes’ offense.
Correcting mistakes from outside might be an easy fix with more practice. However, the Buckeyes have struggled to limit opposing scoring attacks, giving up an average of 65.6 points per game, which puts OSU at No. 55 in the nation.
More worryingly, the Buckeyes force an average of 13.06 turnovers per game, tied with Army West Point as 221st in the nation. Without forcing turnovers, there seems little hope of OSU putting up enough points to overcome opponents, especially a Badgers team that averages 76 points per game.
With a lack turnovers and shooting struggles, the Buckeyes will need nothing short of a mid-season miracle to make OSU relevant in the Big Ten again. Regardless, veterans like junior forward Jae’Sean Tate are remaining positive through the hard times.
“I wouldn’t say (there is) concern because we work our butts off every day,” Tate said. “We’re in here every day. We’ve just got to keep grinding it. We’ve got to keep working and trusting (Matta.) The outcome is going to be there.”
He went on to say he felt the Buckeyes will hit their stride soon. However, until OSU corrects the glaring problems in front of them, the team will be taking nothing more than baby steps.