When the Ohio State Buckeyes take the court against Iowa, they will have a feeling with them that they have not been accustomed to so far this season: playing after a loss.
No. 3 OSU (15-1, 2-1) fell Tuesday in East Lansing, Mich., at the hands of the No. 5 Michigan State Spartans, 72-68, in overtime despite storming back from a 17-point deficit in just more than seven minutes to tie the game.
“There’s a lot of things that we did well in that game, and there’s some things (like) taking care of the basketball, execution (that) weren’t what they needed to be,” OSU coach Thad Matta said Friday. “Those things have been and will be continued to be pointed out. As I’ve always said in this league, you get knocked down and you gotta get up and you gotta get ready to fight again.”
Matta and company are looking to put the loss to the Spartans out of their minds as they prepare to host No. 20 Iowa (13-3, 2-1) at 1:30 p.m. Sunday. The Hawkeyes are fresh off a 93-67 victory against Northwestern Thursday.
The last time OSU lost two games in a row was in February last year, when the Buckeyes fell in another overtime game at then-No. 3 Michigan Feb. 5, then came home and lost to then-No. 1 Indiana Feb. 10.
Matta made sure his players knew about it so as to not let it happen again.
“That’s something that we addressed in terms of an overtime loss on the road, you’re coming home and things don’t get solved just because you’re in your own building,” Matta said. “You’ve got to man up and you gotta go back out and play again.”
The turnover bug bit OSU against the Spartans, when the Buckeyes committed an uncharacteristic 21 turnovers, 10 higher than their season average.
“Each possession is important,” senior guard Aaron Craft said. “Valuing possessions, valuing the ball — 21 turnovers is way too many in a game of that caliber against a great team. We can come up with excuses all we want but that’s on us as players to take ownership of what are roles are each and every play and find a way to get it done.”
In Craft’s opinion, OSU really hasn’t accomplished much yet despite going unbeaten in the non-conference season. Things now are different.
“We had a great conference schedule and we won all those games and that’s great but once you get in league play, everyone starts at a level playing field,” Craft said.
OSU nearly stole the game against the Spartans in regulation, as junior guard Shannon Scott snatched the ball from MSU senior guard Keith Appling as the clock wound down in hopes of getting the go-ahead score before the buzzer. Scott missed the layup, but he isn’t hanging his head over the failed opportunity to win the game for his team.
“I’m not trying to really hang on anything right now, I know I was glad we didn’t give them a chance to win at the end of the game,” Scott said Friday. “I still want to finish that ball but I’m not going to keep my head down because I didn’t make that play at that time.”
No matter the loss, the Buckeyes have to move on, Craft said, and not be satisfied with how many games they have won so far this year.
“We can’t feel sorry for ourselves … sure, we found a way to get back in at the end and it’s great and all that but we have to find ways to get better. Complacency is our biggest enemy at this moment,” Craft said. “We can feel good about coming back in the game and not want to get better and think everything’s gonna be all right and that’s not the case.”