A better JaQuan Lyle means a better Ohio State. Thad Matta and the Buckeyes got both on Thursday against Providence.
The sophomore guard poured in 21 points, grabbed eight rebounds and dished out seven assists against the Friars to lead Ohio State to a 72-67 victory for the team's best win in a young 2016-17 season. Lyle spent the majority of the second half on the bench in the first two games, scoring a combined eight points in those contests.
The Friars closed an early second half gap to 1 when Rodney Bullock nailed a 3-pointer from the wing at the 10-minute mark. Lyle then ignited a 9-0 spurt for the Buckeyes with a pair of free throws and assists to Marc Loving and Kam Williams.
Providence wouldn't go quietly, however, mainly due to Bullock's career-high 27 points. The Friars got within two around the 4-minute mark but never any closer.
Ohio State made enough free throws down the stretch to seal the victory.
|27–54 (50%)||FGM-FGA (PCT.)||23–65 (35%)|
|4–12 (33%)||3PM-3PA (PCT.)||10–26 (38%)|
|14–20 (70%)||FTM-FTA (PCT.)||11–17 (65%)|
One of Bullock's game-high five 3-pointers gave Providence a 17-16 lead with 9:23 remaining before halftime, despite the Friars struggling to shoot from the floor in the first 10 minutes. Then Lyle took over.
Ohio State picked up its intensity on defense and forced the Friars into a nearly 5-minute scoring drought then finished the first half on a 22-11 run bolstered by Lyle's ability to create in the lane either for himself or teammates. In the opening 20 minutes, the Buckeyes outscored Providence 26-12 in the paint and Lyle scored 15 points on 6-of-8 shooting.
Jae'Sean Tate chipped in 11, decimating Providence's defense at the high post when Ed Cooley shifted to a 2-3 zone. Bullock's tip-in at the buzzer made it 38-28 at the break.
But Providence used a 7-0 run to get within 4 within the first 3 minutes of the second half. A game of runs ensued before Ohio State made the proper plays to win.
Tate finished with 14 points and Trevor Thompson added 12 off the bench to go with 9 rebounds. Loving did not score until the 16:29 mark of the second half but finished with eight points to go with 10 rebounds. Keita Bates-Diop added eight points before leaving the game in the second half with an ankle injury. He did not return.
The Buckeyes ended the game with a 42-20 advantage in points in the paint, helping them to victory despite 11 turnovers. They led by as many as 12 in the second half.
Ohio State finished the game shooting 50 percent from the field, while Providence connected on just 35 percent of its attempts. Indiana transfer and leading scorer Emmitt Holt tallied 11 points and Jalen Lindsey added 10.
The Buckeyes are next in action on Monday against Western Carolina. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m.