Buckeyes Battle But Fall to Tarheels
The Ohio State basketball Buckeyes showed they belonged but fell short of the upset, falling to the hot shooting 5th ranked North Carolina Tarheels by a final score of 86-72. Carolina struggled to get anything going inside but the perimeter was a different story, scorching the nets for 13 three’s. The long range shooting, combined with a late first half run was the difference in the Tarheel victory. The Buckeyes creeped as close as 9 and had the ball with under 6 minutes remaining, but a couple turnovers and runouts from the Tarheels ballooned the lead to 19 with under 4 minutes remaining. The Buckeyes didn’t quit, cutting the lead to 12 after Keita Bates-Diop completed an old fashioned three point play with just under 2 minutes to go, and then to 9 after a Bates-Diop triple with a minute remaining, but they just had too big a hole to climb out of against a team as talented as the defending national champions. Ohio State was led in scoring by Bates-Diop who dropped in 26 and C.J. Jackson added 19. Kaleb Wesson chipped in 12, all in the second half for the Buckeye attack. Jae’Sean Tate added 9 points and 9 rebounds as the Buckeyes fell to 10-4 with one more game in December.
The first half went back and forth early but thanks to some poor officiating, 9 triples from the Heels and foul trouble to the two Buckeye leaders, Bates-Diop and Tate, the Tarheels went to the locker room with a 14-point cushion. Bates-Diop, playing several minutes with 2 fouls, hit a free throw, completing a 3 point play and tying the game at 23, then exiting for the half. Following his exit, the Tarheels finished the half on an 18-4 run and all but killing Ohio State’s hopes of an upset. Jackson, who scored Ohio State’s first 11 of the game, led the Buckeyes with 15 in the first half, while Bates-Diop in limited minutes, added 7.
A win in a game like this certainly would’ve helped the resume, but a loss doesn’t necessarily hurt it. There are plenty of positives to take from this game as well as some things they will need to shore up to win a game of this magnitude. They were most definitely hurt by some poor officiating and key players in foul trouble but it wasn’t necessarily the reason they came up short. Overall, this is looking more and more like a team that will belong in the dance in March but they will need to come up with some big wins in the conference to solidify their stance. Fortunately, this is an improving team and there are several opportunities for a signature win or two.
Ohio State will finish 2017, hosting the Miami Redhawks in the Schott, next Saturday. Tip time is high noon.
– Jason Harris