CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. – In spite of everything that had gone wrong leading up to it, the ball felt good leaving JaQuan Lyle's hands. On the road against the No. 6 team in the country that also boasted the stingiest defense, Ohio State had let a 16-point first half lead disappear but still had a chance to at least extend the game.
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. – In spite of everything that had gone wrong leading up to it, the ball felt good leaving JaQuan Lyle's hands.
On the road against the No. 6 team in the country that also boasted the stingiest defense, Ohio State had let a 16-point first half lead disappear but still had a chance to at least extend the game. Trailing 63-59, Lyle hit a pair of free throws to make it a two-point game with 11.8 seconds and set up a fouling situation for the Buckeyes. They sent Marial Shayok to the line, and when he missed both with 10.5 seconds on the clock C.J. Jackson nabbed the rebound, sprinted up court and time was called with six seconds to play.
The play coach Thad Matta drew up didn't involve Lyle launching a step-back three-pointer from well beyond the line at the buzzer. And yet…
"I thought it was good," Lyle said. "It was on line, but it was just short. I shouldn't have stepped back from 36 feet. I know how that's going to end up."
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Virginia pressured Lyle's inbounds pass, and in the process the Cavaliers disrupted what the Buckeyes were trying to get: a game-winning three-pointer from either junior Kam Williams or senior Marc Loving.
"I was trying to get Kam a three in the corner or Marc a three at the top," Lyle said. "I couldn't get the ball into them. They played great defense on that."
Instead, he inbounded the ball to freshman center Micah Potter, who had a clean catch near the top of the circle before handing it off back to Lyle. He dribbled to his left, hesitated, went back right and had the 6-5 Shayok switch onto him after a Potter screen.
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"Micah got open, got the ball, handed it to me," Lyle said. "I wasted a lot of time. I feel like I could've gotten to the rim but I settled for a terrible shot."
Said Shayok, "You have to forget about (the missed free throws) and have a short memory. I knew I would feel even worse if my guy got the bucket or scored a three to win the game, so I just had to refocus and play good defense."
Matta said he considered not using a timeout as Jackson brought the ball upcourt.
"Typically I don't take that time out, but I wanted to make sure our guys understood that a two would tie it and a three would win it," he said. "We turned the wrong way on a screen. Obviously that wasn't the shot that we were designing, but they did a great job of pressuring us out of the set."