Ohio State had Tuesday's game against Purdue in hand for what felt like most of the night, but they could never really deliver a knockout blow to put away the youngest team in the Big Ten.
And is usually the case in this league, if you let a team hang around long enough, you'll often find yourself looking back wondering how a win got away.
After Purdue couldn't hit a trey all night, Sasha Stefanovic hit a 3-ball to tie the game at 64-64 and then freshman Jaden Ivey connected on one with five seconds to go to beat the Buckeyes.
Here are a few things that stand out to me in the aftermath of perhaps the most disappointing loss of the year.
1. Ohio State took a lot of 3-pointers ... like A LOT of 3's. Just about any coach in the country would be happy with a game in which his team shot 40 percent from behind the 3-point line, but 35 triple tries is too many for my taste. That said, I concede that the majority of those shots were open and in general, you should take a good look when you get it.
"It was a few too many," head coach Chris Holtmann said after the game. "I thought we did have some good looks, but it was a few too many for sure. We tried to establish the paint a little bit better in the second half, but as physical the game was and was called, we weren't able to do that. That's my fault."
In fact, only twice in program history had the Buckeyes even attempted 35 long range shots in a non-overtime game. Those came in an NCAA tournament win against South Dakota State in 2018 and when the Scarlet and Gray absolutely buried Florida A&M by 42 points back in 2006.
For context, the 14 3-pointers made was tied for ninth most in a game in program history (they've hit at least 14 3's in a game 14 times). Most of the time, that leads to a win. Only three times has Ohio State lost a when hitting at least 14 triples - the lost to Clemson in 2004, they lost to LSU in double-overtime in 2005 and lost to Purdue on Tuesday night.
I'm not terribly upset by the number of 3-balls that hoisted because they couldn't seem to generate anything inside against a much bigger team, but I don't believe that last night's formula will be a winning one in the long term. This team has shot it well from 3-point range lately, but it's been a very streaky season in that regard.
2. Tuesday night was a season-worst performance in a couple of areas: rebounding margin (-8), free throw shooting (64.7 percent), points in the paint (8) and 2-point fields goals attempted/made/percentage. They also recorded one of their worst games this year in terms of points per possession (1.032) and hit one layup all game. They connected on just six 2-point baskets all night.
Despite all that, the Buckeyes led for more than 35 minutes against Purdue. That makes the loss a little tougher to swallow.
3. In the Chris Holtmann era (fourth season), the Buckeyes lost for just the second time when they had built a lead of at least 10 points against a Big Ten team. They were previously 34-1 in those instances, losing only to Minnesota in on January 23, 2020 when they had an 11-point lead in the first half, just as they did last night against Purdue. Beyond the scope of Big Ten games, Holtmann is now 66-4 against all opponents with a double-digit lead at some point during a game.
4. I thought there were times last night where the Buckeyes played really hard. It was fun to watch certain sequences unfold. The two that stood out to me most were Justice Sueing racing back to block a layup and force a fast-break miss with about 10:30 to go in the game, and the Liddell-Sueing-Young-Ahrens combo play in transition that turned into a 3-pointer when Sueing had fallen to the ground with his back to the basket.
I asked Chris Holtmann postgame about those two sequences, as well as the 3-point shooting frenzy and using teachable moments from last night's game. Here's what he had to say.
5. I hope the Buckeyes have a short memory because this team still has a chance to have a special season, but they are about to enter a really tough part of the schedule. Wisconsin, Michigan State and Iowa are the next three teams on the docket, starting Saturday afternoon in Madison. Hopefully C.J. Walker's hand injury and Jimmy Sotos' shoulder injury won't linger for much longer because there have been a few instances where having a true point guard on the floor would've been really helpful.
That said, I think this staff has done an unbelievable job getting the most out of this team under their current circumstances. They compete really hard and generally share the ball well on the offensive end. Meechie Johnson continues to get some meaningful minutes and Justice Sueing and Duane Washington have both stepped up the last few games.
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