Ohio State knew the level of defense Houston had to offer. The Cougars came into the game allowing 61.1 points per game, forcing opponents to shoot 36.5 percent from the field, the lowest percentage in the country.
Shooting 38.8 percent from the field, the Buckeyes’ 14 turnovers, including five by sophomore forward Kaleb Wesson, proved to be too costly, as Ohio State lost to Houston 74-59, eliminating the Buckeyes from the NCAA Tournament in the Round of 32.
Ohio State head coach Chris Holtmann has lost four of his five career appearances in the Round of 32.
After a cold start to the second half, missing its first four attempts from deep, Ohio State began to heat up. Senior guard C.J. Jackson hit a jumper and a 3, cutting the Buckeyes’ deficit to five with 11:44 left.
But the five-point deficit was one that the Buckeyes could not overcome.
After Jackson’s 3, Ohio State did not record another field-goal make until Wesson recorded a layup with 3:27 to go in the game.
The Buckeyes shot 32 percent from the field in the second half, making 2-of-12 attempts from 3.
In the final game of his collegiate career, Jackson finished the game with a team-leading 18 points, shooting 46.7 percent from the field, including 4-of-11 from deep.
The turnovers came early for the Buckeyes, turning the ball over in four of the first five possessions of the game. Ohio State left the half with eight turnovers, including four by Wesson.
Turnover troubles continued in the second half, recording two on the first two possessions in the second half. Houston finished the game scoring 13 points off of the Buckeyes’ turnovers.
When retaining possession, offense did not prove to be difficult for Ohio State. The Buckeyes connected on six of their first nine attempts from deep, including back-to-back makes by Wesson early in the half.
After attempting four shots, all 3-point attempts, in the first half, Wesson finished the game with 15 points and six rebounds, shooting 42.9 percent from the field.
However, success from deep slowed, as Ohio State finished the game hitting 10 of its 29 attempts from 3.
Houston outscored Ohio State 34-12 inside the paint, outrebounding the Buckeyes 37-31.
After scoring 53 points in his previous three games, redshirt senior Keyshawn Woods scored 10 points, making 4-of-11 from the field, missing four of his five 3-point attempts. He added four assists and three rebounds.
As Ohio State slowed, Houston took advantage.
When redshirt sophomore guard DeJon Jarreau hit a jumper to tie the game at 25 with 7:49 left in the first half, Houston began a 16-6 run, giving the Cougars the 39-31 halftime lead.
The Houston offense could not continue its momentum out of halftime, starting the second half missing its first eight attempts from the field.
Despite shooting 37 percent from the field in the second half, the Cougars were able to outscore Ohio State 35-28 in the final 20 minutes.
Houston senior guard Corey Davis Jr. led the Cougars with 21 points, making 6-of-15 from the field.
Ohio State made its second straight NCAA Tournament under Holtmann, losing in the Round of 32 for the second season in a row.