Short-term memory. That’s the solution Ohio State men’s basketball sophomore forward Jared Sullinger prescribed to his teammates Monday as they prepare for their first game since Saturday’s widely-scrutinized loss to Michigan State.
The Buckeyes (21-4, 9-3 Big Ten) will have their first chance at redemption Tuesday when they travel to Minneapolis, Minn., to play the Minnesota Golden Gophers (17-8, 5-7 Big Ten).
OSU shot 26 percent from the field in the loss to MSU, resulting in a first-place tie in the Big Ten standings between the Buckeyes and Spartans. Sullinger bundled 17 points and 16 rebounds with 10 turnovers in the game. OSU’s big man, along with other Buckeyes players, was also visibly frustrated during the contest and was seen engaging opposing players and the referees numerous times.
During a Monday press conference, Sullinger said the team complained too much during the game.
“Honestly, we looked like spoiled brats out there if you look at the tape,” Sullinger said. “Arguing with one another, you know, complaining about calls. Just kind of looking like spoiled brats out there.”
Senior guard William Buford agreed, saying he was disappointed by the team’s performance.
“We still know that we played real bad,” Buford said. “We just don’t want to have anymore of those games.”
OSU can put the memory of its 26-percent shooting performance farther in the rearview mirror with a win at Minnesota’s Wiliams Arena. Buford called the opportunity to play again so quickly after the loss a “great turnaround.”
“I think we get to show the world that, you know, that was just kind of a fluke for us,” Buford said. “We’re going to try to stay together as a team.”
The quality the makes OSU capable of bouncing back is a short-term memory, Sullinger said.
“If we keep dwelling on this Michigan State game and just keep harping on it and just keep talking about it, pretty soon, we’re just going to … be able to focus on the next game and let one slip past us,” Sullinger said.
As far as more tangible objectives in place for OSU, players and coach Thad Matta agree that they need to stay within the team’s offensive system.
Despite straying from its usual offensive success, OSU still ranks No. 2 in the Big Ten in scoring offense and No. 1 in point margin with 76 points per game and an average margin of plus-19 points.
Those statistics could go a long way in a game against the Golden Gophers, who lost their last game in overtime against Wisconsin last Thursday, 68-61.
Minnesota’s offense is ranked No. 7 in the conference, averaging 69 points per game. Golden Gophers coach Tubby Smith boasts a 62-20 record in his five seasons at Williams Arena, which is also known as “The Barn.”
Matta said Monday that he is aware of Minnesota’s success on its home court, but added that his team likes playing on it too.
“I think they’ve usually got pretty good teams that play pretty well at home,” Matta said. “We’ve got in early shoot around in (The Barn) tomorrow. I think these guys kind of like that place.”
Matta also said the team will take what it learned from Saturday’s loss and aim it toward Minnesota.
“With such a quick turn around, we take a look at the things we didn’t do particularly well,” Matta said. “Our guys have a pretty good understanding of that.
Still, Sullinger stressed the need to move forward and to forget some of what happened against the Spartans.
“We just need to not do what we did against Michigan State and just do what we do,” Sullinger said. “We went away from (our offensive) system … as long as we stay within the system and just play basketball and stop being robots, I believe we can come out with a win.”
That was something Matta and Sullinger agreed on.
“We’ll have them ready to go tomorrow night,” Matta said. “I know that.”
OSU’s Tuesday game at Minnesota will tip at 9 p.m. and be broadcast nationally on ESPN.