It’s tough to say who was colder Thursday night; the students jumping in Mirror Lake or the Ohio State men’s basketball team.
In the 2K Sports Classic semifinal game against No. 6 North Carolina, the Buckeyes shot a frigid 9-31 from the field in the first half, en route to a 77-73 loss.
“We had a rough first half,” junior guard Jon Diebler said. “If we had come out with a little bit more intensity, the game probably would have been different.”
In the second half, the Tar Heels extended their lead and were up 19 points before the Buckeyes finally made a run.
Five quick points by Dieber, coupled with two free throws from junior Evan Turner, sparked a 7-0 run. The Buckeyes got as close as two points after a Diebler three-pointer with 15 seconds to go.
Carolina’s Larry Drew then made two free throws to end any hope of a miracle, and the Buckeyes were handed a four-point loss.
“Obviously we made a great comeback,” coach Thad Matta said. “Finally late in the second half we started making some shots and got a little rhythm to our offense. I’m proud of the way our guys fought back into it, but it obviously wasn’t enough.”
The Buckeyes dug themselves too deep of a hole with their first half shooting woes.
Though everyone struggled to make shots, it was sophomore William Buford who had the most trouble. Buford made only two of 10 shots in the first half and finished an abysmal 3-16 from the field.
In addition to scoring difficulties, Turner struggled to hold onto the basketball. His 23 points led the team, but the Buckeye point guard turned the ball over 10 times.
“Sometimes I might have thought about the situation too much, whether I should shoot or pass, so I traveled here and there,” Turner said. “I just have to make sure it never happens again.”
However, Turner and Co. had little time to work out any kinks. OSU played the following day against California in the tournament’s consolation game.
Junior center Dallas Lauderdale got his first start of the season against California, completing his return from a preseason hand injury. Lauderdale scored eight points and grabbed four rebounds in 30 minutes of play.
More importantly, he anchored the Buckeyes on the defensive end, blocking seven shots.
“He gives us a different look both offensively and defensively,” Matta said. “He has pretty good timing. It allows us to do a little bit more on the perimeter knowing he is back there.”
Friday’s game had a similar feel to Thursday’s, but with reversed roles.
It was the Buckeyes that dominated the majority of the game, and with about 15 minutes to go in the game, they had a 22-point lead. Then, like OSU the night before, California began a comeback.
California promptly went on a 17-2 run to cut the Buckeye lead to nine. But on the shoulders of Turner’s 22 second-half points, the Buckeyes were able to hold on and earn a 76-70 victory.
“Basketball is a game of runs,” Turner said. “Fortunately we are mature enough to keep a lead. We handled what we had to handle, and we took care of business.”
Turner finished the game with 26 points and 14 rebounds and, along with Diebler and David Lighty, played all 40 minutes. Friday marked the fourth time in as many games that Turner has recorded a double-double.
“It has been a good stretch of games,” Turner said. “I am just trying to play hard.”
The Buckeyes return to play Lipscomb Tuesday at the Schottenstein Center.