PORTLAND, Ore. – The PK80 Invitational is over, and Ohio State is already back home preparing to host Clemson on Wednesday for the ACC-Big Ten Challenge. But before we turn our full attention to what lies on the horizon for the Buckeyes, a deeper look at what transpired while in the Rose City is in order.
The basics are well known. Ohio State was outclassed by a clearly better Gonzaga team, turned around and fended off Stanford on the same calendar day and then let a 15-point lead evaporate in the final four minutes of an emotional, overtime loss to Butler to close the tournament at 1-2.
Because these were three quality opponents, how Ohio State played just in this tournament is relevant to study compared to the first four games, all of which were against sub-100 teams as ranked by KenPom.com. With that in mind, here’s what the cumulative stats from the PK80 tell us.
1. C.J. Jackson had to do too much.
Although he’s a junior and the starting point guard, Jackson isn’t supposed to be the team’s focal point on offense. He’s supposed to facilitate things, yes, and make the smart plays to put his teammates in position to be successful. In Portland, though, Jackson led the Buckeyes in shots taken, shots made, three-pointers taken (tied with Keita Bates-Diop), three-pointers made, total points, steals and turnovers.
That’s not going to lead to a lot of wins for Ohio State. Jackson is showing that he can become a key scorer at this level, but Jae’Sean Tate, Bates-Diop and others are the focal points. Keeping them out of foul trouble is critical.
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2. Taking care of the ball remains an issue.
There’s no real way around this one: the Buckeyes are going to have ups and downs with their guard play all season. Jackson is still growing at this level, Tate isn’t a true point guard and graduate transfer Andrew Dakich is already being asked to play more than he ever has in his career.
In three games, Jackson had 11 turnovers. That’s not terrible, but the numbers swing wildly: three against Gonzaga, just one against Stanford and then seven against Butler. Tate and Bates-Diop were close behind with nine each, while Dakich and freshman Musa Jallow each had six.
Again: Jackson just needs some more help, particularly when teams are going to pressure him.
3. Tate needs to stay out of foul trouble.
He’s the team’s most consistent low-post scorer three years running, and Ohio State needs him on the court late in games even if his foul shooting has been suspect. In Portland, Tate fouled out of the Stanford and Butler games and had four fouls against Gonzaga.
It’s hard, given Tate’s role on this team, to expect him not to pick up fouls. That’s probably not going to happen. But the Buckeyes need to find ways to make sure he stays on the court.
4. Consistency needed at shooting guard.
Fifth-year senior Kam Williams moved to the bench for freshman Musa Jallow with the hopes of providing a spark off the bench for the Buckeyes. Aside from a brief stretch against the Bulldogs on Sunday, when he hit a three and a jumper on back-to-back possessions, it hasn’t really materialized.
Jallow had a quick start against Gonzaga and finished with eight points but only scored two in each of the next two games. Williams, meanwhile, sandwiched a six-point outing against Gonzaga and an eight-point one against Butler with a scoreless game against Stanford where he played only 12 minutes.
5. Bates-Diop is putting in work on defense.
It seemed to me that having teams of this caliber specifically planning for him has thrown Bates-Diop for a bit of a loss. He looked too passive at times on offense, but that didn’t stop him from hitting the defensive glass.
Bates-Diop led the Buckeyes with 32 total rebounds, 29 of which were on defense. That’s 12 more defensive rebounds than the runner-up, Tate, who had 21 total rebounds.
He did also go 6 of 14 from three, the second-best shooting percentage behind Jackson’s.
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