For the first time since Feb. 24, 2008, Ohio State has lost back-to-back home games.
The Buckeyes fell to 2-2 following an 82-4 loss to Louisiana Tech. It was a wire-to-wire victory for the Bulldogs under first-year coach Eric Konkol, who also happened to be celebrating his 39th birthday. They got 24 points, six rebounds and six assists from Alex Hamilton and a 17-point, 10-rebound performance from Erik McCree to lead the way.
The stats here are staggering on the other side.
- Ohio State had won 61 straight games against unranked nonconference opponents before its loss to Texas-Arlington three days ago, but now has lost two straight.
- It is also the first time under Thad Matta that the Buckeyes lost two nonconference home games in any season.
- Since 2010, they have the most home victories of any team in America with a 108-11 record.
The losses at home might keep on coming, too, as the Buckeyes’ next home game comes against Virginia on Dec. 1 in the ACC-Big Ten Challenge.
The talent level on this team is really high, but it’s clear that Matta’s group is struggling with inexperience. They’re starting two freshmen and two sophomores as well as bringing two freshmen and two sophomores off the bench. The lack of a true lead ball-handler is also a bit of a problem, as freshman JaQuan Lyle (the nominal point guard) has seven turnovers in the past two games.
There’s also not really a guy that the Buckeyes can count on to go get a bucket on offense consistently. Marc Loving is more of a spot-up shooter. Jae’Sean Tate is more of a crash-the-glass, get garbage baskets type. The freshmen are still adjusting to college hoops. Again, the talent is there in this freshman class, which was ranked as the eighth-best in the country this offseason by 247Sports. But it still needs to grow and mature.
Because of that, it could be a bit of a long nonconference season for the Buckeyes. In addition to the Virginia matchup, Ohio State also still has to face Kentucky, Connecticut and Memphis. Those are all games the Buckeyes could lose, but it should also battle-test this group and get it into stronger shape for Big Ten play. That’s where the Buckeyes will hope to make their mark. But right now, it seems like an NCAA Tournament bid for the eighth straight season under Matta might be a bit of a tall ask.