The Ohio State Buckeyes may have the most individually talented team in the Big Ten, but the sum of the parts equals one of the most inconsistent groups this conference has. D’Angelo Russell is running a close second to Frank Kaminsky in the Player of the Year race, while Sam Thompson may be the best dunker and Shannon Scott a good option at the point.
Yet, for the second straight game the Buckeyes couldn’t get it done where they needed to most — from beyond the arc. It also didn’t help that OSU got in to big holes early in each game and had to try to shoot their way back in to games.
In both games OSU nearly completed the comeback, but it was a lack of consistently good shooting from deep that did them in. Last weekend OSU hit a big three late to give them a chance against Michigan State, however they may not have needed it had they been shooting well from deep.
This weekend the lack of consistency from deep was exemplified best when Marc Loving air-balled a three-point attempt with just about two minutes left. It was followed up by OSU turning the ball over on the ensuing offensive rebound and killing the momentum that was building up to that point.
”It seemed like we were on our heels too much defensively,” head coach Thad Matta said following the loss to Michigan. ”I was disappointed we didn’t fight a little harder.”
Yet, those two situations are just a microcosm for a team who hasn’t had this issue all season long. It just happens to be what holds them back when they are losing ball games.
It’s a curious situation for a team who tops the Big Ten in overall field goal percentage and is third in the conference in three-point shooting (39.8 percent) on the season.
The Buckeyes were off the mark from deep against Michigan State, shooting just 5 of 17 (29.4 percent). That cold shooting from outside continued on Sunday, with OSU shooting just 5 of 19 (26.3 percent) and it really cost them in trying to erase a 17-point deficit against the Wolverines.
Don’t think these were aberrations either, as it’s been a common occurrence in Ohio State’s inconsistent season. In fact, Ohio State hasn’t exactly been on fire from deep for most of the Big Ten season. While OSU may be third in overall three-point shooting, it is just ninth in three-point shooting during conference play (34.3 percent).
A look at the six losses for OSU during Big Ten play shows a simple reason for losing in every case — bad three-point shooting. In all but two of the Buckeyes’ six Big Ten losses they have shot under 30 percent from the field, including a . During those six games OSU is shooting just 28.6 percent from beyond the arc.
That’s what happens when you’re a team who must rely on perimeter play thanks to a lack of size and production down low this season.
It also happens to be what has cost them a real opportunity to be a factor in the race for No. 2 in the Big Ten behind. Ohio State needs to find the type of shooting from outside that made them so dangerous entering conference play, or it could be a short postseason run for the Buckeyes.