Ohio State Basketball: 5 Things We Learned from the Buckeyes' Loss to Kansas
Ohio State didn't fare as well as many had hoped in their first road test of the season. The Buckeyes were taken down by No. 13 Kansas 78-67 in Lawrence. They looked poised to make a comeback several times throughout the matchup, but the Jayhawks held strong as they led the entire way.
The Buckeyes were playing without their best player, Jared Sullinger, who sat out due to back spasms. This wasn't the only reason they lost, but it definitely hurt their chances of defeating Kansas on the road, something that has proven difficult to accomplish in years' past.
Looking at the shooting percentages from the game, it's easy to find one key that led to their loss: Ohio State shot just 39 percent from the floor, while they allowed Kansas to shoot 58 percent. No team is going to win with these numbers.
Sullinger's absence was apparent down low, as Thomas Robinson dominated the paint for the Jayhawks, putting in 21 points and seven rebounds.
There are still plenty of road games left for the Buckeyes to improve upon, but for now, what did we learn from this one?
Sullinger Is a Big Key
While many are quick to blame the loss on Sullinger's absence, you can't pin it entirely on that point.
However, it is clear that this team needs him to stay healthy.
Sullinger is not just one of the best players in the nation. He's a leader for this team, and his presence is huge. Without Sullinger down low, the Buckeyes were unable to get the kind of open looks outside that they normally have with him in the game. Plus, they didn't do much to stop the Jayhawks in the paint.
One player doesn't make a team, but Sullinger is definitely a key component to Ohio State's success.
They Need Another Scorer
Someone has to step up when they aren't shooting the ball well. William Buford did not have his best game, despite leading the team with 21 points. He shot 8-for-23 and didn't really seem to find a rhythm against Kansas.
Between Buford and Deshaun Thomas, the two combined for more than half of the team's field goals taken. The Buckeyes need another guy to contribute offensively. Maybe the young players are more timid to take charge, but most of them can shoot well.
Hopefully as the season progresses we'll see more players break out of their shells.
The Buckeyes Need More Road Experience
This was the first road game for the Buckeyes this season, so they're going to have many more chances to take on some tough opponents away from home, but they need to get used to hostile environments.
Kansas is not an easy team to play at home, and the fans in Lawrence really showed up for their matchup against Ohio State. Still, OSU has been too comfortable playing at home for eight games in a row. Big Ten play will change that.
The 3-Ball Still Needs Work
I've preached this point already this season, but they are not shooting well from beyond the arc. Ohio State finished 5-for-17 from outside against Kansas—not a good stat when you're taking on a Top 25 team on the road.
Again, William Buford took a large number of those shots; he was just 1-for-6 from downtown. The Buckeyes need him to figure out what's going on with his deep shots.
They're Still a Contender
Don't let one game sway your opinion about a team for the entire season. People are quick to forget that Ohio State beat Duke handily. They are still one of the best in nation, but they have a long way to go to prepare for March.
Reading comments after the game, you see a lot of, "Ohio State is so overrated," and "Why are they even in the Top 10?"
Please, let's all just relax. Kansas is a solid team with a solid coach. They've only lost one game at home in the past three seasons. I think that should tell you something about Lawrence.
Ohio State's next big test won't be until Dec. 31 when they travel to Bloomington to take on the Hoosiers. That game will be a sign of how the team has progressed after this loss.
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