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Buckeyes Find Some Grit in Win over Providence.
By John Porentas

COLUMBUS, OH - Teams don't usually have a watershed moment just three games into the season, but the young Ohio State Buckeyes (3-0) may have done just that in their 72-67 win over Providence (1-1) in the Schottenstein Center. 

OSU took a 48-40 lead on a dunk by David Bell with 14:07 left in the second half to give themselves what looked like a comfortable lead over the visiting Friars.  That was an illusion. Over the next four minutes Providence outscored OSU 11-2 to close within one point at 50-49 with 10 minutes to play. 

It was the kind of collapse that plagued OSU last season and led to embarrassing losses and in some cases lopsided losses. When the Friars made their run there was a deju vu vibe in the arena.

"I think at this time last year we would have dropped that game just now," said sophomore point guard JaQuan Lyle.

"I think last year we would have folded and ended up losing this game."

This isn't last year. This year the Buckeyes got it back together, weathered the storm, and went on their own answering run to go back up bu 10 at 59-49.

"We realized that we needed to get defensive stops," said center Trevor Thompson.

"We do this thing where we all raise our fist up which kind of means we need a stop, and basically we realized that they came back, they made a run, but we can’t get too worked up by them making a run because basketball a game of runs. We just came together and said we need to get a stop, we need to continue to string stops together then execute on offense and just play our defensive rules."

It sounds simple enough, but it was something that was lacking last year that the Buckeyes may have found this year, and that can only be good for them going forward. 

"We've learned from our mistakes of last year and that pain that all of us had, because none of us forget last year and how unacceptable it was," said Thompson.

"We realize that these games now we can't take opponents lightly, we can't not respect opponents, because anybody can lose a game in college basketball."

The grit they showed was something that Thad Matta was happy to see. 

"Absolutely," said Matta.

"We told our guys they are going to make a run. They've proven that, they did it last year.  I thought we did show some resiliency. We weren't playing as well as I wanted to but we found a way and made the plays we needed to to win the game."

"I thought we did a pretty good job weather the storm and making the free throws when we needed them down the stretch. We fought harder to protect our lead I thought."

The Buckeye scoring was led by JaQuan Lyle with 21 points but it was Lyle's other stats that excited Matta. Lyle, who was prone to turnovers and low assist numbers last year also racked up seven assists against just one turnover in what was one of his most complete games as a Buckeye. 

"He made some really, really good reads.  He found guys," said Matta. 

Forward Jae-Sean Tate added 14 points and center Trevor Thompson chipped in 12 more off the bench. OSU dominated the glass 43-33 and connected of 14-20 free throw attempts, 13-17 of those in the second half as they closed out the win. Senior Marc Loving led OSU with 10 rebounds to go with 8 points and three assists. 

The Buckeyes had a scary moment when starting forward Kaeta Bates-Diop landed awkwardly and appeared to injure his knee. Bate-Diop remained on the floor several minutes and finally was assisted to the bench. After the game Matta reported that the injury was actually an ankle sprain and that Bates-Diop will be day to day as to his availability. 

OSU shot 50 percent from the field while holding Providence to just 35 percent. The Friars racked up 18 assists against just three turnovers, but their shooting percentage and OSU's dominance on the glass was too much for them to overcome. 

Providence forward Rodney Bullock was the game's leading scorer with 27 points. He was just 8 of 20 from the field but 5 of 9 from three point range. He was 6 of 8 from the free throw line. 

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