This certainly wasn't as easy as Tuesday.
UNC Asheville gave Ohio State all it could handle Thursday night, but a late-game takeover by point guard JaQuan Lyle allowed the Buckeyes to escape with a 79-77 victory at Value City Arena.
Lyle scored inside with his right hand — his eighth consecutive point down the stretch — with 47.9 seconds to play. On the ensuing possession, however, Jae'Sean Tate bit on a pump fake and fouled Asheville's Kevin Vannatta, who made just 1 of 3 free throws.
The Bulldogs fouled Marc Loving and the senior missed both to keep Asheville's hopes alive. Loving blocked a driving attempt on the Bulldogs' next possession and then C.J. Jackson put things on ice for Ohio State with a pair of free throws with 12.5 seconds remaining.
Ohio State led 62-52 with 8 minutes, 2 seconds to play, but a 9-0 run by UNC Asheville got the Bulldogs within one point at the 5:45 mark. A pair of Trevor Thompson free throws stretched the Buckeyes' lead back to three, but again Asheville had an answer as a Vannatta triple tied things up with just under five minutes to play.
Thompson was then hit with a technical foul after being called for a personal foul and Asheville made three of four free throws to take a 67-65 lead with just over four minutes to play.
Tate hit a pair of free throws to tie the game at 67-all, but a tough basket inside by MaCio Teague gave Asheville a two-point edge. Lyle quickly responded with two free throws to tie the game at 69-all with 2:33 to play.
After the Buckeyes got a stop, Lyle drove inside and scored to give Ohio State a 71-69 lead with 1:49 to play. Lyle followed that up with a floater in the lane to put the Buckeyes up by four with 1:31 to go, but Asheville quickly cut it back to two when Will Weeks scored inside.
|OHIO STATE||STAT||UNC Asheville|
|29–53 (55%)||FGM-FGA (PCT.)||28–64 (44%)|
|3–10 (30%)||3PM-3PA (PCT.)||11–24 (46%)|
|18–26 (70%)||FTM-FTA (PCT.)||10–15 (67%)|
Playing without starting center Micah Potter, who missed the game with a sprained ankle suffered in that victory against the Penguins, the Buckeyes put four players in double figures — including Potter's replacement — to earn the win.
Leading the way was Lyle, who finished with 17 points and six assists. Tate added 17 points of his own while Loving added 11. Thompson recorded his second-straight double-double with 14 points and 10 rebounds.
Asheville was able to hang around all night because it connected on 11-of-24 attempts from behind the 3-point line. Ohio State was just 3-for-10 from deep.
After UNC Asheville scored the opening basket of the second half to get within one, Ohio State rattled off 10-straight points to push its lead out to 11. Williams connected on a 3-pointer to give the Buckeyes a 46-35 advantage and the Bulldogs took an early timeout.
Asheville refused to go away, however, as it made a change to a 1-3-1 zone that stalled Ohio State's offense. After a dunk from Tate pushed the Buckeyes' lead out to nine, a 3-pointer by Alec Wnuk and a pair of free throws from Teague got the Bulldogs within 53-48 at the under-12 media timeout.
Ohio State controlled most of the first half, but some hot shooting from UNC Asheville from behind the 3-point line allowed the Bulldogs to hang around in the opening 20 minutes. UNC Asheville hit 7 of its 14 first-half 3-pointers but trailed 36-33 at halftime.
The Buckeyes shot 54 percent from the field in the first half as they attacked the paint from the get-go. And Ohio State limited the Bulldogs to just a dismal 5-for-19 shooting on two-point attempts, but the seven first-half 3s helped Ashville stick around. The Buckeyes made just 2-of-6 attempts from downtown themselves and committed nine first-half turnovers to Asheville's seven.
Tate led the way offensive for Ohio State in the first half with nine points. Thompson and Loving each scored eight while Lyle added seven points and five assists. Williams injured his right leg during the first half and went to the locker room, but returned to start the second half.
Ohio State now has a bit of a break before resuming action with Big Ten play. The Buckeyes open league action Jan. 1 at Illinois.