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Buckeyes Buckeye Archive Ohio State Falters Late in Loss to Duke
Written by David Regimbal

David Regimbal

osu dukeFor much of the game, it looked like Thad Matta and the third ranked Ohio State Buckeyes were going to steal one from No. 2 Duke in Cameron Indoor Stadium.

The Buckeyes led by as many as 10 points in the second half and held a 51-46 advantage with under eight minutes to play.

That’s when the shots started falling for the Blue Devils.

Duke connected on three straight 3-pointers to take its first lead in over 30 minutes of game time, and despite a gutty effort from the Buckeyes, the Blue Devils were too strong on their home court to be overcome. They went on to win 73-68.

"We just didn't do a good job of staying together, and they started going on a run," Aaron Craft said after the game. "We couldn't weather it."

After struggling on offense in the first half, Duke torched the nets in the second, shooting 58 percent from the floor on their way to scoring 50 second half points. Rasheed Sulaimon was absolutely phenomenal after the break, scoring all 17 of his points in the second half.

"I let my teammates down in the beginning, not playing as well as I could be, and [coach Krzyzewski] really got on me at halftime," Sulaimon said after the game. "I just love these guys and wanted to go out there and respond."

Mason Plumlee was the difference maker, scoring 21 points while snagging an unbelievable 17 rebounds.

The Buckeyes had a miserable performance on offense. The team shot just 34 percent from the field to score a season-low 68 points. Deshaun Thomas was Ohio State’s best option, scoring 16 points on six of 14 shooting. Craft struggled mightily, though, missing 12 of his 15 shots on Wednesday night. The junior point guard only had one assist against three turnovers, and most surprisingly, didn’t register a single steal in the game.

The fact that Ohio State played that poorly on offense, yet still had a chance to win it late, surprised Thad Matta, "If you had told me we were going to shoot 34 percent, I would have said we got ran out of the gym tonight."

Duke did a fantastic job defending Ohio State’s pick-and-roll in the second half. Craft and Thomas often run the pick-and-roll to get an open shot for Deshaun, but the Blue Devils doubled Thomas almost every time and forced Craft to drive. That strategy worked out well, especially down the stretch, as Thomas only got off two shots in the final seven minutes.

Ohio State struggled with the atmosphere at the beginning of the game. The Buckeyes missed four of their first five shots from the field, and Duke built a 6-2 lead that ignited the Cameron Crazies.

The Buckeyes settled in about four minutes in, though, and put together an 11-3 run of their own. Lenzelle Smith, Jr. scored five quick points at the beginning, pacing Ohio State before Thomas woke up.  

Thomas got hot and scored eight points, pushing the Buckeyes out to an 18-11 lead. But midway through the first half, Thomas was called for his second foul and was forced to sit the remainder of the half.

That should have spelled doom for the Buckeyes early, especially when Craft joined him on the bench five minutes later, but three reserve players stepped up for Ohio State. Laquinton Ross scored five points, Shannon Scott picked off two passes going the other way and Amir Williams was a monster on the glass, grabbing four offensive rebounds and seven total in the first half.

The Buckeyes dominated everything from the tempo to the boards, but only went into the half leading 31-23.

Momentum started turning Duke’s way early in the second half as the Blue Devils cut Ohio State’s lead to three with an 11-6 run. The Buckeyes were able to hold Duke off for a while, but the 3-pointers started falling down the stretch, and Ohio State was never able to match the outburst.

Who’s Next?

The Buckeyes hit the court again this Saturday when they host the Northern Kentucky Norse. The game will tip off at 4:30 p.m. ET and will be televised by the Big Ten Network.

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