Monday, November 30, 2015

game preview: Ohio State

Date/Time: Tuesday, December 1; 7:30


Record against the Buckeyes: 1-3

Last meeting: UVA 89, OSU 73; 1/25/81, Charlottesville

Last game: UVA 80, Leh. 54 (11/25); Mem. 81, OSU 76 (11/27)


UVA: 64.4 (#347)
OSU: 68.3 (#283)

UVA: 115.2 (#5)
OSU: 106.6 (#80)

UVA: 92.0 (#10)
OSU: 98.9 (#92)

UVA: .9299 (#3)
OSU: .7030 (#73)

Projected lineups:


PG: London Perrantes (10.0 ppg, 2.8 rpg, 5.3 apg)
SG: Malcolm Brogdon (16.7 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 3.2 apg)
SF: Marial Shayok (7.3 ppg, 2.5 rpg, 1.8 apg)
PF: Anthony Gill (12.5 ppg, 5.2 rpg, 0.3 apg)
C: Jack Salt (3.5 ppg, 1.8 rpg, 0.0 apg)

Ohio State:

PG: JaQuan Lyle (11.4 ppg, 3.8 rpg, 6.2 apg)
SG: Jae'Sean Tate (10.2 ppg, 7.6 rpg, 1.4 apg)
SF: Keita Bates-Diop (12.4 ppg, 6.6 rpg, 1.6 apg)
PF: Marc Loving (16.6 ppg, 6.2 rpg, 1.2 apg)
C: Daniel Giddens (6.2 ppg, 6.6 rpg, 0.4 apg)

Yes, yes, yes, I'll get to the elephant in the room.  How could I not?  But that can percolate a little, and there's a big basketball game tomorrow, so this post has a closer expiration date.

The basketball powers that be seem to enjoy having UVA play teams I hate for non-UVA reasons, so here we go into Columbus for our portion of the ACC-B1G Challenge.  Ohio State has had a very nice last decade or so in basketball, with two Final Fours and numerous Sweet Sixteen appearances, but their seven-year tournament streak is already in jeopardy, five games into the season.  Losses to Texas-Arlington and Louisiana Tech do not bolster a tournament resume.

Still, though UVA still shows up well in the early-season KenPom rankings, that's mostly from crushing lousy teams and some preseason carryover.  UVA will have to go back on the road into a difficult environment after playing the last four games in some very friendly confines (the arena in Charleston was decidedly pro-UVA throughout the tournament.)  Aaron Craft and Jared Sullinger aren't walking through that door for OSU, but they're not all of a sudden a MEAC team.

-- UVA on offense

The 30-second shot clock has affected the UVA offense in one appreciable way: it's rare now to see London Perrantes walking the ball up the court like he's on a Sunday stroll to nowhere in particular.  UVA now pushes the ball up past halfcourt usually within a couple seconds and then stalls the game to a pokey crawl.  They still rank outside the top 300 in offensive possession length (the shorter, the "better".)

Perrantes has so far been a bit more aggressive in looking for his shot, both at the rim and the arc - not like he considers himself the first option or anything, but he's been getting after it a bit more.  That'll be much harder against OSU, because point guard JaQuan Lyle is not only 6'5", but comes in with a five-star pedigree, too.  Lyle has been anything but aggressive on defense, with only two steals on the season, but he's an obstacle all the same.

OSU is a team with good playable size, and it's shown so far in their interior defense; they've been difficult to score on down low and are one of the top shot-blocking teams in the country in the early going.  Center Daniel Giddens has 16 blocks already - more swats than he has field goals - which is a primary reason for his entry into the starting lineup over Trevor Thompson.  Thompson is no slouch himself - you'll recognize the name, he was last seen as a 210-pound beanpole trying to form some semblance of a backcourt with Joey van Zegeren in Blacksburg.  He transferred to OSU and has re-emerged 40 pounds heavier and a viable rotation member, though he's actually only played about a quarter of the available minutes.

UVA's offense was simply abusive against the last four cream puffs, with the result that almost everyone is shooting over .500 from two and a lot of guys are over .400 from three.  During those four games, UVA scored one-and-one-third points per possession, and even in the loss to GW they scored 68 in 68 possessions.  OSU is certain to slow that pace somewhat, and UVA needs to drop a few more threes in than they did against GW (the Hoos started that game 2-for-14 and found themselves in a hole partly because of it) to keep the large and shotblocky OSU defenders from clogging up the lane.

-- UVA on defense

It's early, so these trends will get tamped down a bit - but OSU's offense is similar to its defense.  Their size means they don't get their shots blocked much, and they shoot well inside.  (The caveat to both this and their defense is that cream puffs, even ones you lose to, are generally undersized.)  OSU also has a few guys who've started the season off hot from behind the arc.

Marc Loving is a tough player to guard, shooting well from both two and three.  The same goes for Keita Bates-Diop, who's only 5-for-18 from three so far, which is a sample size problem more than anything as he shot just fine last year and is OSU's top free-throw shooter too.  Austin Grandstaff - a one-time UVA target on the recruiting circuit - comes off the bench for the specific purpose of three-point shooting and is 8-for-19.

There are a couple glaring red spots, though.  OSU turns the ball over too much, and these are generally unforced errors.  A couple bench players - most prominently Trevor Thompson and backup SG A.J. Harris - are particular culprits.  Worse yet is their free-throw shooting, which doomed them against UTA and wasn't any help in their other losses.  Loving and Bates-Diop - no problem.  Everyone else....whoof.  Giddens and JaeSean Tate are brick factories; both are in the .300s.  JaQuan Lyle has been rotten too.  Those three have combined to shoot more than half of OSU's free throws.

-- Outlook

OSU has good size, and their top two scorers are matchup problems who can score from a lot of different places, inside and outside the arc.  And Daniel Giddens is a legitimately tough center, while JaQuan Lyle has looked so far like a pretty good facilitator of the offense.

That said, OSU has yet to play against anything resembling a decent big man.  They've all been either stiffs or nonexistent.  The one exception is Memphis's Shaq Goodwin, who went completely off on the OSU defense with 23 points on 7-for-9 shooting and nine points from the stripe.  This is a losable game if the defense is still a little too loose for Tony's liking, but OSU's flaws should hold them back enough, and the UVA offense has been clicking - even coming down off the mountain would still put them high above the trees.

Final score: UVA 74, OSU 68

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