Let me start by saying the crowd tonight was the best I've seen since the team moved to the Schott. The student section had a nice Block O rolling and even the old timers stood and/or got rowdy throughout the game. The game also marked the unveiling of the new electronic scorer's table (providing constant stats updates) and the new lighting accompanying the announcement of the starting lineups. Props to OSU for the renovations.
The game itself looked winnable early as John Diebler appeared to break out of his season long shooting slump connecting on 4 first half threes, including a bank job at the buzzer to give OSU a 32-29 lead going into the locker room.
Things looked even brighter as Kosta Koufos made a guest appearance hitting a jumper to put OSU up 39-37 at the 16:24 mark but the Buckeyes missed their next 17 FG attempts allowing UNC to take a 57-43 lead with just over 5 minutes remaining. To their credit, OSU responded with an 8-0 run to draw to 57-51 with 4 minutes left but couldn't get over the hump as the Tar Heels bullied the Buckeyes inside before the final buzzer sounded on a 66-55 loss.
The dreadful shooting night (19/70, 27%) wasn't helped by the fact OSU hoisted 33 treys, 3 shy of the all-time team record set against Florida A&M in January 2006. Of course, they didn't have much choice considering the floudering offensive efforts of bigs Koufos, Othello Hunter and Mark Turdwiggler. Yes, Da Turd has officially earned his nickname back after killing OSU tonight and last week against Texas A&M. He went 0-4 from the field including a freshman like decision to launch a three pointer with over 25 seconds left on the shot clock out of a timeout with OSU trailing 47-40. I refuse to believe that's what Matta had in mind for such a critical possession.Wiggler was not alone as Koufos looked scared to challenge Tyler Hansbrough down low. He made a couple nice post moves but really never took the ball strong against Hansbrough instead settling for finesse hooks and turnaround jumpers. The kid has loads of talent but he's gotta toughen up and give OSU a lift at the offensive end to take some pressure off Jamar Butler. Koufos finished 1-10 from the floor and grabbed just 3 rebounds in 27 minutes.
Hunter was also a ghost at the offensive end scoring only 5 points but he did have a solid night defensively grabbing 10 rebounds and set a career high with 6 blocks. Though David Lighty (9) and Butler (8) tried to help on the glass, UNC dominated the boards 54-38 including 15 offensive caroms.
The stagnant offensive sets remain a concern. With Koufos neutralized and Hunter failing to deliver consistent post offense, the Tar Heels applied constant ball pressure on the perimeter taking away back cuts forcing long threes or the occasional dribble drive. So, while missing 17 shots in a row is a bit unlucky, it can't be overlooked that the type of shots they're taking is certainly influencing the FG droughts.
Even with all my bitterness, it should be noted the young Buckeyes did hang tough with the #1 team in the land for more than a half and it was nice to see Diebler get off the snide going 7-16 from the floor, good for a team high 19 points. Unfortunately, the schedule doesn't give OSU much time to recover with a tough road test at Butler set for Saturday night.