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Ohio State men's basketball run through the Big Ten has continued its dreadful course, as they continue to lose in the first month of February. In the first month of Big Ten play, the Buckeyes fell to one of the worst starts in years with a record in January of 2-7 despite being in games decided by 10 points or less in six of the seven games lost. They continued their almost winning games strategy into their first matchup of February when they played host to the 13-8 Wisconsin Badgers on February 3rd.
Wisconsin came into Columbus and just about had the Buckeyes running into halftime looking for any kind of an adjustment, routing the Buckeyes 43-27 in the half, including an 8-0 Badgers run in the final minute. Adjustments did come for the Buckeyes, but unfortunately, they came too little, too late, as despite winning the second half 33-22 over the Badgers, they lost the game by five points.
Brice Sensabaugh once again was the leading man and seemed to be the only one on the floor determined to put the ball in the hoop consistently. In his 16 minutes played, he put up 13 points with just two missed shots, three rebounds and three assists. Unfortunately, the rising star found himself deep in foul trouble early on, which limited him to the shortest amount of time he's played all season long. Justice Sueing was a productive member of the team that night, as he played 31 minutes with Sensabaugh on the bench, totaling an outstanding 11 rebounds.
The team as a whole was called on 22 fouls and turned the ball over 16 times. If there are any stats that point to why this team can't figure out how to win a ballgame, it is these two. Alongside side the statistical problems of the team are the issues of the teams makeup. The inexperience of the young squad is destroying them in a conference where one-and-done players are a rarity. The Big Ten is typically made up of teams with three- and four-year players that have had time to work through their chemistry issues and build up the trust that makes teams successful. Ohio State does not have that luxury. Few of these guys had ever played at the college level coming into this season and only a few had ever even played together. In high school, all of these players were "The Guy", and now they have to learn how to be a team, and the lack of experience has been a massive problem for the Buckeyes this season.
If the Buckeyes can't break through soon, any chance of the big dance in March will be out the window. As the Buckeyes stand on the edge of early elimination, they set their sights on a must-win game up north. On Sunday (February 5th) at 1 p.m. on CBS, the Ohio State Buckeyes travel to Ann Arbor to take on their rivals who currently sit seventh in the Big Ten. The Buckeyes this season are 1-6 on the road. The road will not lighten as following what is bound to be a competitive rivalry game, they will return home Thursday (February 9th) at 8 p.m. on FOX to take on the sixth placed team in the conference in Northwestern, whom the Buckeyes beat to start 2023 73-57 for their lone road win of the season.
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It was not all bad in Columbus this week, as the women's basketball team got back to their winning ways after a sloppy start to the week. Following their 18-game winning streak to start the year that found themselves at No. 2 in the polls, they lost two games last week and started off this past week at No. 10. They finished January with another loss, this time against Purdue in Columbus last Sunday in what should have been a game in which the Buckeyes got back in the captain's chair and charged back into battle. However, it did not turn out this way, as for the third straight game they could not find their range from beyond the three-point arc. The team shot 7/28 as a team from three, and as the saying goes, "Live by the three, die by the three." That seems to have become the case for Ohio State as of late.
Thankfully, in game two of the week against Wisconsin on the road, the Buckeyes decided not to live by the three. They viciously attacked inside and forced themselves to the free-throw line in what quickly became a beatdown in Madison. Ohio State came out with the win 90-67 behind a very physical performance from sophomore Taylor Thierry, who played 34 minutes, scoring 25 points. She missed just one shot and found her way to the free-throw line on more than five different occasions. Despite the team making just eight threes, they managed their largest scoring total in conference play.
Despite the recent win snapping a three game slide, the Buckeyes can't rest just yet, as they will have to play the underdog role this week when they go on the road Sunday (February 5th) to see No. 8 Maryland at 4 p.m. on ESPN2. The Terps are coming in fresh off a 14-point loss to No. 6 Purdue Thursday and will be looking to get back a win against the Buckeyes, who are still struggling to shoot the three. If Ohio State can't shoot the three, their chances of winning will decrease drastically this weekend. Luckily for them, following the Top 10 showdown, they will play host to the Minnesota Golden Gophers on Wednesday (February 8th) at 7 p.m. Minnesota have found themselves near the bottom of the Big Ten this season, ranking third to last in the conference with a 2-9 conference record to go along with a 9-13 overall record.