Not since early last March has Ohio State tasted defeat at the Schottenstein Center.
The Buckeyes picked up their eighth straight win at home since the beginning of the season against Penn State on Sunday, and with two more home games coming up in the next five days, Ohio State will be favored to extend that streak even further.
Refuge in the form of a three-game homestand is just what the doctor ordered for the Buckeyes, who aren’t quite reeling but have been inconsistent since they’ve returned from their three-week COVID-19 hiatus in December. In particular, playing well on the road has been something of an issue plaguing the Buckeyes both before and after their pause in action.
“Talking with the coaches yesterday, we watched film on (last week’s loss to) Wisconsin and overall, just the effort, we just need to pick it up. Especially on the road,” Ohio State forward Zed Key said on Saturday. “It’s hard to win big games on the road, because you’re not home. Home court advantage is a real thing. Fans backing you, you go on a run, fans screaming. I think we just go to find ourselves on the road and just be able to play harder, because that’s what it takes to win on the road.”
Ohio State appeared to be reaching its apex with a 73-55 win over Wisconsin on Dec. 11, but the Buckeyes’ momentum was halted when their next three games were canceled due to a COVID outbreak in the program. The Buckeyes have gone 3-2 since coming back from that break, and haven’t looked as complete on both sides of the ball in any of those five performances as they did in that first matchup with Wisconsin.
But while things have swung in the direction of their opponent in two of the Buckeyes’ three road games since getting back in action, in which they lost to Indiana and Wisconsin while narrowly defeating Nebraska in overtime, Ohio State has pulled off Big Ten wins in both of its January home games.
Even prior to the Buckeyes’ wins against Northwestern and Penn State on the past two Sundays, Ohio State’s top performances have taken place at home this year. The aforementioned win over Wisconsin might be chief among them, while the other obvious choice is the Buckeyes’ upset win over then-No. 1 Duke, which Ohio State toppled at the Schott with a 71-66 win on Nov. 30.
|OSU STAT||AT HOME||ON THE ROAD|
Of Ohio State’s four losses this season, three have happened on the road and one at a neutral site at the Fort Myers Tip-Off in Florida. Perhaps Ohio State’s two worst performances of the year have been its 71-65 loss to Xavier at the Cintas Center and its 67-51 loss to Indiana in Bloomington – both in particularly hostile environments.
But do the numbers reflect a significant drop-off when the Buckeyes go on the road? It’s funny you should ask.
Not including Ohio State’s two neutral-site games, the Buckeyes are scoring just 69.4 points per game in five road games, which is down from 78.1 in their eight home games. While Ohio State has shot a similar percentage from 3-point range both at home and on the road this season, the Buckeyes drop off from .500 to .436 from the floor overall in home vs. road games.
Defensively, Ohio State is giving up almost five more points to opponents on the road this season than at home. While the Buckeyes have still held foes to 42.6% shooting on the road, Ohio State’s opponent field goal percentage is just 40.9% at the Schott.
|OSU STAT||HOME (VS. P5)||ON THE ROAD|
Of course, four of Ohio State’s home opponents this season have been mid-major programs. But even when you throw those games out, the Buckeyes still average almost six more points at home with a field goal percentage that’s nearly 5 percent higher. Ohio State has actually held Duke and the three Big Ten opponents it has played at home to a lower combined shooting percentage than the eight-game home average, and that is also true of the 3-point shooting numbers.
When the Buckeyes take on IUPUI Tuesday, Ohio State will get a Horizon League opponent that is just 1-14 on the season and has scored fewer than 50 points in six games this season. When Nebraska comes to town four days later, Ohio State will get the last-place team in the Big Ten (0-7 in conference play), though it did take the Buckeyes to overtime earlier this month.
The next two games should be layups for Ohio State, especially given the luxury of home court advantage, and it’s coming at the perfect time as the Buckeyes look to level out and find some consistency through the end of January.
“These next three home games, it’s good to be home,” Key said. “I love playing at home in front of the fans. It definitely boosts your – if you have a dunk or something – it definitely gives you momentum.”