Scoring troubles doom Buckeyes
EAST LANSING, Mich. — The mood inside Ohio State’s huddles remained upbeat, Musa Jallow said, even as the scoreboard presented reason for frustration.
After taking a 31-25 lead into the locker room at the Breslin Center against No. 11 Michigan State, the Buckeyes suffered through a historically low offensive performance before the final buzzer sounded. In making 4 of 21 second-half shots and scoring only 13 points, Ohio State finished with its worst offensive efficiency rating since KenPom.com began posting the ratings at the start of the 2001-02 season.
The 44 points were the fewest scored by an Ohio State team since a 65-43 loss at Wisconsin on Dec. 31, 2009, and mark a third straight game in which the Buckeyes failed to crack 57 points.
“Certainly it’s been a challenge, but it’s not like we didn’t expect that we were going to have trouble scoring this year,” coach Chris Holtmann said. “I think we’ve got to keep taking good shots.”
The struggles have wasted some strong defensive performances. Michigan State’s 62 points were the Spartans' season low. Illinois’ 63 points Thursday night marked its third-lowest scoring game of the year, but the Fighting Illini won by seven at Value City Arena.
In those two losses, Ohio State averaged 50.0 points while shooting 34.0 percent (35 for 103) from the field and 21.4 percent (6 for 28) from three. The Buckeyes have been held below 65 points in seven of their last 11 games and below 50 in two of them.
At Michigan State, the huddles as the drought continued consisted of “Just everybody trying to touch each other and keep on pushing,” Jallow said. “We knew it wasn’t going to be easy so we just had to keep our heads up and keep pushing.”
Ohio State finished 8 of 19 on layups and also had eight shots blocked. It also committed 11 turnovers in the second half leading to 12 Michigan State points.
“The only thing I see that they struggled with is the same thing we struggle with: When you turn the ball over a lot, you’ve got problems,” Michigan State coach Tom Izzo said.