Ohio State basketball coach Thad Matta continues to search for answers.
The Buckeyes dropped a 74-66 decision to Michigan State on Tuesday, moving their conference record to 5-9. Yet another chance to boost the team’s NCAA Tournament résumé instead went out the window. Ohio State got close on a couple occasions in the second half but never played well enough to dig out of its deficit and take the lead.
Here’s what Matta had to say after the Buckeyes’ loss to the Spartans:
- The Buckeyes couldn’t close the deficit against Michigan State in the second half, which Matta immediately pointed out to open his news conference. “We couldn’t get over the hump. We couldn’t make the plays when we needed to make the plays.”
- Matta credited Michigan State’s Alvin Ellis III, who made 15 straight points by hitting 5 straight 3-pointers in the first half, with helping the Spartans get off to a fast start.
- He also said his team’s foul trouble, particularly in the first half, turned into a big problem.
- Matta said there was “probably” a fatigue factor with his players toward the end of the game. The Buckeyes came close to tying the game on multiple occasions in the second half, but the Spartans put it away over the final 5 minutes.
- In regard to his team’s inability to finish: “As I told these guys, we’re right there. We have to find a way to make the plays we need to make at the right time.”
- Matta said he thought sophomore point guard JaQuan Lyle looked good and was happy to be back out on the court. Lyle missed the previous game while dealing with a family matter.
- In terms of effort and energy, Matta said he thinks his team has shown improvement over the last two games. It hasn’t been enough to his liking, however. “We’re just leaving too much on the table, still,” he said. “I think we’re making progress, but obviously we’re not there yet.”