Marc Loving Knocks Down Freshman Wall to Help Lift Buckeyes Past Illini

By Michael Citro on February 16, 2014 at 8:15a

Many freshmen hit the proverbial wall toward the end of their first season, stalling in their progression after a promising start.

I'll admit, the concept of "hitting the wall" is as confusing to me as why someone would want to put the dates of a deceased loved one on the rear window of their vehicle. But the theory is that these players are so rarely challenged in high school that the grind of college ball catches up with them.

And so it appeared with forward Marc Loving, who had gone six games and almost a month since scoring more than two points and four straight without a single point.

But there’s no time for Loving like Valentine’s Day. The first game after the day of love saw Ohio State’s lone active frosh score eight vital second-half points. He went 3/6 shooting from the field and 2/2 from the line to help the Buckeyes take a double-digit second-half lead on the road.

Without Loving’s offense, Ohio State would have sweated out a miserable game in Champaign, and quite possibly lost its seventh game in 11 outings.

Loving’s night was made more important by the horrendous offensive output by nearly every other Ohio State player. LaQuinton Ross scored only nine points on 3/7 shooting. Lenzelle Smith Jr. was 1/5, scoring four total points — after being held scoreless in the opening 20 minutes. Amir Williams did not score.

So there was no better time for Loving to show that the fabled freshman wall couldn’t hold him.

The Toledo product has reached double figures four times in his initial collegiate campaign, including 10 in his first ever game, an 89-50 bombing of Morgan State.

He dropped 12 on North Dakota State, a career high 13 against Nebraska in just his second Big Ten game, and 10 more in the heartbreaking overtime loss at Michigan State in the next game, playing a season high 23 minutes.

After scoring seven points in the home loss to Iowa, Loving showed signs of being a freshman on the road at Minnesota. He was scoreless in 11 minutes in Minneapolis, and looked every bit the part of a high school kid in over his head.

Loving seemed to bounce back in the next game — with an eight-point effort at Nebraska, playing just eight minutes.  But he looked a bit sluggish on defense, and committed three fouls in that span.

Valentine's Day weekend was made for Loving.
Loving rescued the Buckeyes at Illinois.

Then the roof caved in. The St. John Jesuit graduate tallied just a single point at home against Illinois and then two more in the home loss to Penn State.

The he stopped scoring altogether. The wall loomed in front of him. In 36 combined minutes against Wisconsin, Iowa and Purdue, Loving went 0/5 from the floor and 0/3 from the charity stripe. He committed four fouls and a turnover in those three games.

When Michigan came to town earlier this week, Loving failed to score again, but Thad Matta only used him for two minutes. It looked like his promising season had come completely unglued.

After a rough start against Illinois yesterday, Loving may have broken through the freshman wall. He failed to score in the first half, but more than made up for it after the break. His eight points were part of a 12-0 Buckeye run that basically decided things.

Was this a bounce-back game for Loving? A springboard to more great outings to come? Or was it an aberration soon to be erased by more scoreless efforts?

By season’s end, we’ll know. But for now, the Buckeyes are back at the familiar 20-win mark under Matta, and looking to solidify their position in the NCAA tournament.

All because Marc Loving doesn’t care about your freshman wall.


Comments Show All Comments

TMac's picture

The competition will serve him well. I hope he can keep his minutes up through the end of the season as I expect him to be a team leader next year. 

ONE Not Done!

+2 HS
villagebuckeye's picture

I am just glad that Thad kept him in the second half and didn't bring Ross back in

bucknut94's picture

I can't understand how the problems with the lack of outside shooting and poor rebounding and collapsing in the last 5 minutes of games have not been fixed. If the games could last 35 minutes rather than 40 minutes we may be undefeated. I'm still optimistic the weaknesses will be fixed before the season is over.

NitroBuck's picture

"If the games could last 35 minutes rather than 40 minutes we may be undefeated".

 Good point....with the exception of the games against Notre Dame at at Michigan State.

Ferio.  Tego.

+2 HS
DC-town's picture

We're going to continue being the cardiac testing version of a team that can flat out not show up for a game, or show up at both ends and beat any team in country-

The B1G is truly impressive this year, where even the bottom dwelling teams have enough talent to pick the top half off on any given night

'Piss excellence' -RB

+1 HS
youngbuck32's picture

Was hoping Amir would be more like ken Johnson than bj Mullens this year.... if he can't be dominant on O... I sure hope come tourney time hr can be dominant on D. Great job by Loving though.... keep it up kid!

Can't is the real "C" word!

+1 HS
nw_ohio_Buckeye's picture

Keep hoping...smaller quicker guards have no fear of Big Amir. They've figured out that the way to beat him is to drive it straight at him (see Walton in the TTUN loss.) Amir blocks a shot once in a while "off ball" but seldom gets a hand on layups driven right into him. Unfortunate because we need him to take away the lane.

"The minute I think I'm getting mellow, I'm retiring. Who ever heard of a mellow winner?" ~ Woody Hayes 

Shangheyed's picture

Always a silver lining in wins... but still not able to play transition offense, or any kind of offense for that matter... with little time left to figure it out. 

Like the football season we were one side of the ball away from greatness... as good as our Defense is, sadly our Offense is equally bad.  Hoping they can put it together in the little time remaining, if so still could be a dangerous Tourney Team...if not more coulda shoulda woulda... 

4cardpoker's picture

Loving will be fine. He has the skillset and the acumen to be solid player for the next 3 years.  What he lacks is proper lower body strength.  One problem with this team is that Amir and Trey are are undisciplined and hence are ALWAYS in foul trouble.  This forces Matta to go with either Loving or Q as the lone big.  Neither of these two have much lower body strength to push with the front lines of Iowa, Wisconsin, MSU, Minn, etc.  This puts the Buckeyes at a huge disadvantage in the half court and is one of the main reasons why we get abused on the offensive glass every game.  Jared Sullinger wasn't taller than either of those two and certainly couldn't jump as high. What he had was lower body strength to clear out position under the basket.  

 I would say getting in the weight room should be the top priority for these guys in the offseason.  We know both Loving and Ross can shoot and score. To take their game to the next level they need to get stronger.  MSU has a reputation of a tough, physical, will block you out and rebound type of team.  Guess what? They all look like they hit the weight room hard.  If Ross and Loving want to make that kind of impact in the future, they should focus on their lower body strength

+3 HS
nw_ohio_Buckeye's picture

Re: Sullinger..."What he had was lower body strength..."  Yeah, true dat. At least that's one way to explain it. Jared was strong and also had an A** the size of half-ton truck that he used to his full advantage. 

"The minute I think I'm getting mellow, I'm retiring. Who ever heard of a mellow winner?" ~ Woody Hayes 

hspbuy1's picture

0-5  in 3 games? You can't make 'em if you don't take 'em! I like what he did last night,& I believe he's gonna be a great fit for the future.  Hope he got his confidence back.


+1 HS
Crumb's picture

I think he looked real confident in the second half. Young man has promise that's for sure.

"The only good thing about it is winning the d*** thing" - Urban Meyer on The Game The War

+1 HS
Chief B1G Dump's picture


419 BABY.



Killer nuts's picture

I think Loving is going to be a very good player as his career progresses with the potential to be a star. I think he could end up being like a more well rounded will Buford