COLUMBUS, Ohio — Despite a sluggish start, the Ohio State basketball team bounced back from its first loss of the season with a 70-62 victory over Fairleigh Dickinson on Saturday.
The Buckeyes (7-1) remain undefeated at the Schottenstein Center this season. Ohio State appeared to be in position to potentially earn its first ranking of the year earlier this week before losing 63-61 at No. 6 Virginia on Wednesday.
The Knights fall to 2-5.
How it happened
After an ugly first half, the Buckeyes opened the second half on an 18-2 run in the first 5 1/2 minutes to take a 17-point advantage. Using a late push in the final minute, Fairleigh Dickinson cut Ohio State’s lead to six points before JaQuan Lyle sealed the victory by making two free throws with 26 seconds remaining.
Of Ohio State’s 70 points, 30 were scored in the paint on Saturday as the Buckeyes shot 50 percent from the field.
Ohio State’s strong second-half showing stood in stark contrast to its effort in the opening 20 minutes. Due in large part to nine turnovers, the Buckeyes led for only 4 minutes, 48 seconds of the first half. The Knights led by a 21-15 margin with just under seven minutes remaining in the period, before Ohio State closed the half on an 18-11 run to take a 33-32 lead into the locker room.
What it means for Ohio State basketball
While the opening half indicated a team facing a potential letdown following its first defeat, the Buckeyes’ strong second-half response served as an encouraging sign. It’s unlikely Ohio State will be ranked when the polls are announced Monday, but the Buckeyes continue to beat the teams they’re supposed to. Wins like these may not seem to matter in the moment, but they will add up when the Buckeyes make a case to the selection committee in March.
After an uneven effort against Virginia, Marc Loving got back on track Saturday, scoring 18 points on 6-of-11 shooting. The senior forward has now notched double-digit efforts in three of his last four games.
Ohio State forward Jae’Sean Tate continued his strong start by scoring 12 and pulling down 12 rebounds against Fairleigh Dickinson. Tate has recorded double-doubles in three of the Buckeyes’ first eight games.
Also of note: Reserve center Trevor Thompson’s stat line, which featured 10 points, 13 rebound and five blocks.
Backup guard C.J. Jackson was one of two Buckeyes on Saturday to net a negative plus/minus score with a minus-1. Jackson missed both of his two shot attempts — both 3-pointers — and totaled two turnovers in 12 minutes. Freshman forward Andre Wesson netted a minus-6 in six minutes of play.
After committing eight turnovers against Virginia, Lyle endured another off night handling the ball. The sophomore guard committed five turnovers against the Knights, while scoring seven points on 2-of-7 shooting.
Who is next
The Buckeyes will return to action Tuesday night when they host Florida Atlantic at 7 ET in a game streamed on ESPN3. The Owls are 2-4 on the season heading into Saturday night’s matchup with Hofstra.