Loving's New Role Provides Ohio State With Scoring Punch off Bench

By Tim Shoemaker on January 30, 2015 at 1:05 pm
Marc Loving launches a 3.

Ohio State head coach Thad Matta stopped a recent practice because he had a simple message he wanted to get across to Marc Loving.

"I had a few choice words for him one day in practice in terms of telling him to shoot the ball," Matta said. "'Shoot the ball. Shoot the ball.' I just kept saying it."

There wasn't much behind Matta's statement: He wanted Loving to become more aggressive with the basketball. After all, the sophomore forward from Toledo entered Thursday's game against Maryland as the Big Ten's most prolific 3-point shooter, making 50 percent of his tries on the season.

It seems, though, Loving heard Matta loud and clear. In the Buckeyes' 80-56 rout of the Terrapins, he matched his career-high with 19 points, grabbed six rebounds and was 5 for 5 from behind the 3-point line.

"Just being able to knock some shots down for my team and it helps open up the floor for everybody," Loving said.

Despite being the Buckeyes' second-leading scorer and one of the better deep threats in all of college basketball throughout the first part of the season, though, Matta took Loving out of the starting lineup prior to Ohio State's game against Northwestern.

He inserted Jae'Sean Tate to try and give the team some life at the start of games as the Buckeyes were in a bit of a rough patch and had come out flat.

It's worked, too. After getting off to a 3-3 start in the Big Ten, Ohio State has won three straight games since Matta decided to bring Loving off the bench. 

His numbers, haven't changed much, either. He's still getting starter's minutes (averaging 27.3 per game over last three) and is still scoring at his usual rate (averaging 12.3 per game).

"My role didn’t change on the team," Loving said of coming off the bench. "It was a good night, I was able to knock some shots down but at the end of the day it's just about the victory and that's what we got. I'm proud of my team."

Loving has made a ridiculous 42 of his 79 attempts from behind the 3-point line this season. That's good for 53.2 percent, which is still the best number in the Big Ten and the third-best percentage in the country amongst qualified shooters.

Whether it's starting or coming off the bench, Loving's role is to knock down outside shots. And When Ohio State can get D'Angelo Russell some help — like it did with Loving and Jae'Sean Tate against Maryland — it is a really good team. 

"We need Marc to play like that," Matta said. "I hope that he knows the confidence I have in him."

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