While it’s had difficulties beating Top 25 opponents, Ohio State has had little trouble against unranked teams.
The 12th-ranked Buckeyes will face two more such teams before Big Ten play, beginning with a visit from Miami (Ohio) on Monday night.
Ohio State (9-2) has suffered both its losses to ranked teams after Saturday’s 82-74 defeat to No. 24 North Carolina in Chicago. The Buckeyes were held to 34.7 percent shooting, their worst performance since connecting at 30.4 percent in a 64-55 loss at then-No. 5 Louisville on Dec. 2.
Marc Loving was one of the bright spots Saturday with career highs of 19 points and five 3-pointers. Sam Thompson had a season-best 17 points.
“We’ve got to look ourselves in the mirror and say, ‘Hey, we’re not there yet,’ which is fine, but we’ve got to look at all the little things that we have to do to get better and get that established,” coach Thad Matta said. “Knowing that it’s, I don’t want to say it’s early, but it’s still December. We’ve got January, February, March still to play basketball.
“How much better can we get in that time?”
Matta’s team will first try to get back in the right direction with a visit from the Redhawks (3-7). Ohio State will also face Wright State at home in its non-conference finale Saturday and has beaten its nine unranked opponents – all in Columbus – by an average of 31.3 points while shooting 56.1 percent.
The Buckeyes are facing Miami for the third straight time as a ranked team. They won the previous two as a top-3 squad and were the No. 2 team in the nation when it registered a 69-40 home win Dec. 22, 2011.
Ohio State is 5-2 all-time against Miami and suffered the most recent defeat in the 1993 NIT.
In this matchup, the Buckeyes will face a team coming off the end of a six-game losing streak. Miami snapped out of its woes by topping Longwood 71-60 on Wednesday.
Leading scorer Eric Washington, averaging 13.1 points, had 19 points, and junior guard Geovonie McKnight also had 19 to match a career high.
“We just wanted to get a win. To me, however it came didn’t matter,” McKnight said. “Now we can build on that win and go out there and play hard on Monday.”
Miami has lost 24 in a row to AP Top 25 teams since a 73-67 victory over No. 10 Boston College on Dec. 20, 2001. The Redhawks have dropped 22 straight road games to ranked teams since a 73-64 win at No. 10 Notre Dame on Dec. 9, 2000.