Ohio State Buckeyes: Three Thoughts on OSU-Louisville

1. Ohio State’s rebounding issues will cost them at least one game this season

Louisville entered the game as the country’s best rebounding team, so it was a tough matchup to start for Ohio State, but Louisville was able to get many of their offensive rebounds without doing anything extraordinary. Louisville dominated the glass in the first half before Ohio State’s furious second-half surge made the rebounding stats look more even than they really were.

The Godzilla-esque stylings of Montrezl Harrell in that category were not a surprise, but Anas Mahmoud had 4 by himself in the first half after having three rebounds total in Louisville’s first five games. Several of Mahmoud’s rebounds fell straight into his hands without him having to jump over anyone, or at all.

There were similar rebounds for other Cardinals throughout the game. It wasn’t just a function of size and athleticism that doomed the Buckeyes; they were also out of position for rebounds regularly. Anthony Lee was supposed to help solve this problem for Thad Matta’s team, but he has struggled to stay on the floor. The Buckeyes need Trey McDonald to find a way to contribute, or to give undersized rebounding dynamo Jae’Sean Tate more minutes, because Amir Williams isn’t going to be able to get the rebounding job done by himself. Matta’s use of the 2-3 zone isn’t going to make his team’s job on the glass any easier, either.

 

2. Ohio State’s offense will struggle again

Ohio State came into the night with one of the nation’s top 10 scoring offenses. Rick Pitino’s defense made it very clear that the Buckeyes’ start was misleading. D’Angelo Russell is extremely talented, but he may have a light that’s just a bit too green right now. His shot selection is spotty, and his performance against Louisville raises the worry that he may be far better suited to tearing apart cupcake opponents than working for baskets against talented defenses.

Shannon Scott didn’t help Russell or the rest of offense, failing to register an assist all game and generally looking incapable of creating for himself or others. Scott had such a rough night that most of Ohio State’s comeback came with him sitting and watching. Stagnant half-court offense is nothing new to Ohio State fans, and the improvements expected on that end haven’t arrived yet this season. Thad Matta may very well have the Buckeyes ready to score against good defenses, but they aren’t there yet.

 

3. Ohio State will be flawed but frisky all season

For all the problems they had, the Buckeyes still had their chances to get back in the game. They cut Louisville’s lead to five several times after the last media timeout, but they weren’t able to overcome the pressures of the clock or the big shots of Terry Rozier. While their offense let them down early, Ohio State showed that they will be tough to beat no matter how they evolve on that side of the ball.

After 9 first half turnovers, the Buckeyes took good care of the ball in the last 20 minutes. They also showed an ability to stretch the floor with their shooting, which will open up everybody’s offensive game if it continues. There are no moral victories for a program of Ohio State’s stature, but the Buckeyes had a chance to win the game despite playing 30 minutes of poor basketball.