Thad Matta’s basketball Buckeyes are no longer undefeated, as Ohio State gave No. 6 Virginia all it could handle but fell 63-61 in a closely contested ACC/Big Ten Challenge contest in Charlottesville, Va., on Wednesday night.
The Buckeyes (6-1) took a 36-24 lead into the half but couldn’t withstand a major push from the Cavaliers at the start of the second. Virginia (7-0) turned the 12-point deficit into a 1-point lead in less than 6 minutes. It was a back-and-forth affair from there, but thanks to Virginia’s suffocating defense and a host of late, unforced errors by Ohio State, the Cavaliers held off the Buckeyes as JaQuan Lyle’s fadeaway 3-point shot at the buzzer rattled off the rim.
Here’s how it all unfurled.
Why It Happened
After shooting 60 percent from the floor in the first half, Ohio State faced some major struggles putting the ball in the basket in the second, hitting just 7 of 19 shouts (36.8 percent). Virginia’s defense was active as expected, forcing the Buckeyes into 20 turnovers. Ohio State failed to execute much of anything offensively in the second half without pressure from the Cavaliers. Without any real contribution from Kam Williams, Trevor Thompson and Marc Loving — who finished with a combined 16 points — it’s kind of wild to think the Buckeyes were even in this game.
What It Means
Sometimes you learn more about your team in a loss than you do in a win. Ohio State came into the game undefeated, but hadn’t really been pushed by a team with any significant talent. Wednesday night at Virginia, the Buckeyes faced their steepest challenge of the season and put together a great effort. Still, plenty of work remains. There are certainly positives that came out of this one, but it feels like a missed opportunity for Ohio State, a team that could really use a marquee win.
Junior C.J. Jackson helped keep the Buckeyes close throughout the contest, knocking down a trio of 3-point baskets and working hard to distribute. He finished with 9 points, 4 rebounds and 3 assists in 23 minutes off the bench. It was Jae’Sean Tate, though, that led the way for Ohio State. Tate finished with a team-high 14 points — all in the first half —on 5-of-9 shooting from the floor. He also added 9 rebounds despite playing most of the second half in foul trouble.
Williams. The Buckeyes junior didn’t hit a field goal and finished with just 2 points on a pair of free throws. Lyle, a sophomore, had an up-and-down night, turning the ball over 8 times by himself but also scoring 12 points.
Who Is Next
Ohio State will return home to take on Fairleigh Dickinson at 4:30 p.m. ET on Saturday. The game will be available for streaming only on BTNPlus.