The Buckeyes knocked off their second ranked team in a row by shutting down Kyle McAlarney. Luke Harangody had a heroic effort coming off of a bout of pneumonia, but the rest of the team rode a lackluster rebounding performance to a disappointing loss.
If we shot just over 75% from the line, this really well could have been a victory, so blame Tory Jackson's awful foul shooting for part of this loss. Can't blame him too much, though, as he provided the only outside threat down the stretch.
Ohio State's press forced some turnovers and kept our offense from getting in synch most of the game. The Buckeyes connected on a bunch of second chances with ten offensive rebounds. Simply unacceptable to give a team like that so many opportunities to finish off possessions.
Though good defense and Jackson's hot hand gave ND a chance to tie inside of ten seconds left, sloppy play allowed Ohio State to expand a lead to ten points and essentially put this game away midway through the second half. Though a Duke loss slightly lowers the sting of this one, it certainly looks like the Irish will enter Big East play outside the top 10.
Jackson finished with 13 points and 5 assists. Also added four rebounds. He was awful inside the arc and at the line, making just 1 of 6 two point shots. I like Tory being aggressive, but he has to make those driving layups. If he can't finish, dribble penetration is just as effective as turning the ball over. Still, props to the little guy for scoring ten of our last fourteen points. This is a blowout without his effort.
Mac never got off to his usual production. 6 points on 3-11 shooting (0-6 from three). We just can't win against good teams without offensive balance and he is the most reliable outside threat. For as much as Luke Harangody gives the Irish, he cannot carry the team to victory by himself. Kyle will have more nights like this in the future and its a shame he couldn't produce tonight.
Ayers shot well, but he didn't give us the kind of effort we needed with a defense taking Kyle out of the game. After scoring 35 against South Dakota, he took twelve fewer shots and scored only nine points. He has the ability to be a prolific scorer, but can get too tentative in bad situations. Eight other players took as many shots or more than Ayers did in 34 minutes tonight, including a whole lineup of Buckeyes. That's not going to get the job done without help from the shooting guard.
Hillesland disappeared a bit. 4 points, 4 rebounds, 4 assists. Played just over half the game. I know Harangody took a lot of boards tonight, but a better effort by Zach could have evened the playing field a bit. Five Ohio State players finished with more rebounds. That's not a good showing by a Big East power forward.
Harangody was a hero and gave a truly gutsy performance. 25 points, 16 rebounds in what had to be a very difficult 36 minutes. He out hustled the rest of the team all afternoon. Without Luke, this game would have been a complete embarrassment. With him, it just lands in the disappointment category.
No real production off the bench. A combined five points, five rebounds, and two assists between 31 minutes of Zeller, Nash, and Peoples. That's not good enough. Zeller did add a steal and two blocks, a nice contribution, but still not enough to really give a boost of energy as a reserve. Those three need to be instant game-changers when they step on the floor. Not so much tonight.
Evan Turner went off for 28 points, a career-high. It's never a good thing to see the Irish give an opposing player the game of a lifetime. Other than Turner, the Buckeyes focused on strong D and crashing the boards. It worked. Notre Dame was held below 40% shooting overall and beyond the arc. A six rebound advantage (three more on the offensive glass) kept OSU's lead down the stretch and allowed them to pull away midway through the second half.
It's disappointing, mostly because of what might have been with a win. Instead of spending Christmas in the top 5, we should be happy to stay top 10 (unlikely). Time to regroup against the cupcakes, make sure Gody is completely recovered, and use opportunities against Big East foes to restake our place amongst the nation's elite.