With its second-straight home game, the Ohio State men’s basketball team took advantage of the comforts of home with a 72-67 win. It took nearly two and a half minutes before the first shot fell for either team, but OSU eventually got going with the hot hand of sophomore guard JaQuan Lyle. The Buckeyes took a shot, however, when junior forward Keita Bates-Diop went down with a right knee injury.
Lyle finished the game with 21 points, eight rebounds and seven assists. With 15 first-half points on 6-for-8 shooting, the questions about the ability on the offensive side of the ball for the 6-foot-5 guard after two disappointing games quickly faded with a stellar performance.
“This week in practice, all of my teammates and coaches helped me get my confidence up,” Lyle said. “They were teaching me to never be satisfied and just keep working.”
Bates-Diop was knocked to the court in the second half while trying to set a screen, and awkwardly bent his right knee on the way down. The injury appeared to be gruesome, and he was helped to the sideline. There was a noticeable limp, but he made his way back to the locker room under his own power after sitting on the bench for a brief period.
“Believe it or not it’s his ankle,” OSU coach Thad Matta said. “Just an ankle sprain. Kinda puffed up or whatever, but day-to-day so we’ll need him back. That’s for sure.”
OSU made its last three shots to round out the first half, giving the Buckeyes a 10-point lead going into the locker room. Senior forward Marc Loving failed to get in the scoring column in the first 20 minutes of play, but was a key rebounder on the defensive end, pulling down seven boards.
Even with a few early mistakes in transition and on defense, the Buckeyes played with a flow and a hustle that was not seen last game against North Carolina Central. Crashing the hoop, OSU led the Friars in rebounds, 43-33.
In the second half, Lyle picked up where he left off with a tough, contested layup. Although the Buckeyes had the leading scorer, Providence quickly went on a 7-0 run to reel OSU back in. A quick timeout by Matta slowed the Friars’ attack, but the Buckeyes had to fight hard to keep the lead.
Redshirt junior center Trevor Thompson played 20 minutes Thursday night in replacement of freshman Micah Potter, who had foul trouble early in the contest. In a true-center type of performance, Thompson finished the night with 12 points, nine rebounds and three blocks.
Always the competitor, the 7-foot tall center said OSU is still going to be pushing hard next week to strengthen its play on both ends of the court.
“We’re hungry, and we’re not satisfied with 3-0,” Thompson said.
Redshirt sophomore center David Bell also came off the bench for OSU and played an important role for the Buckeyes. In one of the highlights of the night, Bell drove the lane to the left of Lyle, who lobbed a pass to the cutting center. Bell slammed it through the hoop for a highlight-reel dunk.
“I thought Jae’Sean (Tate), Trevor, those guys … Dave Bell did a heck of a job in the paint there,” Matta said. “Those are the baskets we were hoping we could get.”
Turnovers remain to be a problem for the Buckeyes, as Providence picked up 11 takeaways. Last week against Navy, OSU had 17 turnovers.
Providence was led by junior forward Rodney Bullock, who poured in 27 points, while going 5-for-9 from 3-point land. Bullock created mismatches throughout the evening, and even pulled down eight rebounds. Junior forward Emmitt Holt, Providence’s leading scorer coming into the game, went just 3-for-11 from the field with 11 points.
The Friars are now 1-1 on the season, while the Buckeyes keep their perfect record through three games. OSU faces Western Carolina at home Monday, with tipoff scheduled for 7 p.m.