15 Texas A&M Edges Ohio State, Handing the Buckeyes Their First Loss

A back and forth highly contested ball game ended with the visiting 15th ranked Aggies ahead on the scoreboard, sending Ohio State down to their first loss of the 23-24 season, 73-66. Ohio State was led by Bruce Thornton’s career high 24, while Jamison Battle chipped in 10 and Roddy Gayle added 9 points, 7 rebounds and 6 assists. Texas A&M’s scoring was the three-headed monster of Tyrece Radford and Wade Taylor’s 21 and Henry Coleman’s 20. Ohio State led for nearly 18 minutes of the game as the lead changed hands 10 times, with the Aggies going ahead to stay with just over 7 minutes to play and Ohio State not any closer than 3 the rest of the way. The Buckeyes shot 42% from the floor, but just 4 of 19 from long range, while A&M hit 43% of their shot attempts, and just 3 of 18 from beyond the arc. But the game was won as the Aggies attacked the basket and made their free throws, hitting 16 of 23, while Ohio State missed 7 of their 17 attempts and the Aggies out rebounded Ohio State 45-35, including 16 offensive  en route to the win. 
The Buckeyes got off to a fast start, scoring the first 7 points of the game. Bruce Thornton’s triple from the right point got the scoring started and they added on when Evan Mahaffey scored on a mid-paint jumper as Ohio State took advantage of numbers, breaking ¾ court pressure. Jamison Battle completed the 7-0 early run, driving to the rim from the left wing for two. The Aggies scored 9 of the next 11, with Ohio State’s lone score coming from a Roddy Gayle short jumper and at the first media timeout, Texas A&M and Ohio State were deadlocked at 9. Out of the timeout a pair of A&M free throws broke the tie, but back came Ohio State. Scotty Middleton buried a 10 foot jumper right of the paint and after a defensive stop, Thornton drilled another three from the right point to extend the lead. An Aggie bucket trimmed the lead to 1, but Ohio State answered with a Gayle floater and at the under 12 media timeout, Ohio State led 16-13. An Ohio State turnover and an Aggie offensive rebound created offense for A&M, chipping into Ohio State’s lead. The Buckeyes and the Aggies traded a bucket each way with Ohio State’s coming when Gayle got into the paint off the bounce and fed Zed Key for an easy two and at the under 8 media timeout, the Buckeyes clung to a 1 point lead over the Aggies, 18-17. Ohio State’s lead increased to four when Thornton penetrated and kicked out to Battle on the left wing for three, but the Aggies quickly scored on the other end to trim the lead back to two. Felix Okpara split a pair of freebies to extend the lead, but an A&M bucket after a pair of offensive rebounds created a score, cutting the lead back to a point. Back came Ohio State as Thornton lobbed to Okpara who tipped it in. An A&M triple re-tied the game, and after Thornton missed two free throws, A&M scored at the rim to regain the lead. Ohio State went back in front when Gayle drove the lane from the right wing and kicked to the left wing to Battle who buried a three. The Aggies went back ahead with a hoop on their end, but a runner by Thornton answered making the Aggie lead short lived and after a long defensive rebound by Thornton, he led a break and lobbed to Gayle for a dunk electrifying the home crowd and sending the teams to the benches for the final media timeout of the first half with Ohio State enjoying a 31-28 lead. Ohio State extended the lead when Gayle drop stepped at the right block and hit a floater on the baseline, but an Aggie bucket on the other end trimmed the lead back to three. A pair of Aggie free throws dropped to cut the lead back to one. Middleton missed a front end of a one and one and took advantage making two on their end to back in front and a last second three attempt by Thornton clanged off target ending the half with Texas A&M on a 6-0 run to lead 34-33. Ohio State was led by 8 each from Roddy Gayle, Jamison Battle and Bruce Thornton, while the Aggies were led by Tyrese Radford’s 11 and Henry Coleman’s 10. Ohio State held the Aggies to just under 39% from the floor, while shooting 48% themselves, but that included just 4 for 14 from beyond the arc. Texas A&M drilled 7 of their 11 free throw attempts, while Ohio State was an abysmal 1 of 5 from the stripe. The Aggies dominated the glass in the first half, leading Ohio State 23-15 in that category, including 8 of the offensive variety which keyed the one point Aggie advantage. The lack of rebounding and poor free throw shooting were the negatives in the first 20 minutes, but on the plus side, Ohio State played excellent half court defense and did a good job controlling the tempo keeping the high flying Aggies at bay. 
The Buckeyes scored first in the second half when Thornton hit a 12 footer stopping the Aggie 6-0 run and giving Ohio State a lead. A&M answered with a 4-0 run to go ahead three, but Ohio State got out in transition and Dale Bonner scored off the glass and at the under 16 media timeout, Texas A&M led Ohio State 38-37. Out of the timeout, Thornton bagged a pair of free throws to put the Buckeyes back on top. The Aggies quickly went the other way and scored off the dribble drive to put A&M back in front. The back and forth continued as Ohio State went back ahead when Thornton hit a jumper just beyond the stripe. A&M shifted back in front, scoring on consecutive possessions to go up three. Key scored in the middle of the lane with a half hook to trim the lead back to one and a Bonner runner, coming off a Key screen put the Buckeyes back in front. A&M ended the mini run with a mid-paint jumper. Ohio State re-gained the lead when Gayle found Battle at the rim for two, but trading buckets again, A&M scored on their end as the lead changed hands again. Gayle again with outstanding vision found Key at the rim where he scored off the glass while being fouled and with the finger guns ablaze, the under 12 media break hit with Ohio State leading 49-48 and Key due to go to the stripe. Key missed the free throw out of the break and on the other end, A&M completed an old-fashioned three point play to go back ahead by two. Ohio State answered when Key tipped in a Bonner runner to tie the score. A&M broke the tie when a tough turnaround jumper along the left baseline dropped and at the under 8 media timeout, Texas A&M led 53-51. A floater by Thornton re-tied the game, but a runner on the other end broke the tie. Another Aggie bucket increased the A&M lead to four, but a Thornton split a pair of  free throws cut the lead to three. Another Aggie bucket gave the Aggies their largest lead at 5, but a quick dribble drive and score by Mahaffey got the Buckeyes to within three and Coach Holtmann took a timeout with 5:23 to play and Texas A&M on top 59-56. Another second chance opportunity for A&M led to a score and at the final media timeout of the game, the Aggies led the Buckeyes 61-56. Out of the timeout, Gayle went to the stripe and he split a pair to trim the Buckeye deficit to four. The Aggies went up six with a bucket on their end but Ohio State cut back into the lead when Thornton spun to the rim and scored off the glass through contact and went to the line and completed the old-fashioned three point play to cut the lead to three. A&M extended the lead with a pair of free throws and Ohio State took a timeout with 2:19 to play and trailing 65-60. A loose ball that appeared to go off A&M was called off Ohio State giving the ball back to the Aggies and a bad foul call on Gayle on the other end put A&M to the stripe where they split the pair. Thornton went to the line and made the pair to cut the lead to four but with just 1:35 remaining, time was running low on the Buckeyes. A runner on the other end extended the Aggie lead, but a foul on the other end put Mahaffey at the line where he made the pair, cutting the deficit back to four. A pair of free throws on the other end upped the lead to six, but quickly the other way, Thornton scored off the glass with 42 seconds to play. A backcourt foul stopped the clock, fouling out Jamison Battle and sending the Aggies back to the line where both dropped and after a miss on the offensive end, a foul put the Aggies right back to the line where they split the pair and that’s where the scoring ended with Texas A&M coming away with the road win. 
It was a pretty well played game by both teams, as neither team turned the ball over an inordinate amount of times, but the experience of the Aggie backcourt really showed in this one. They played very efficient basketball, turning it over just 6 times and attacked Ohio State off the bounce and were able to get really good, high percentage looks in the paint, out scoring Ohio State 38-30 in there. While the Buckeyes were able to get some points in transition off of long rebounds and press break, out scoring the Aggies 11-0 in fast break points, they weren’t able to generate enough offense in the halfcourt as their shooting woes from long range carried over from game 1. Overall, the defense was solid, as Ohio State displayed active hands and blocked 10 shots, but they can’t allow teams so many second chance opportunities so defensive rebounding will need to be a point of emphasis moving forward. Additionally, they are going to need more balance on offense to win games against good teams like Texas A&M. They can’t rely on just Bruce Thornton to carry all of the load to win games like this one.  Back to work for Ohio State as they look to rebound next week with a couple mid majors coming to Columbus before a trip to Florida to play in the Emerald Coast Classic against a ranked Alabama team the day after Thanksgiving. 
Ohio State hits the hardwood again on Wednesday evening, hosting Merrimack at the Schott.  Tip time is scheduled for 7 PM and airing on BTN.
-Jason Harris
Photo Credit: Joseph Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports

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