Ohio St. still seeks answers

RUSTY MILLER AP Sports Writer Published:

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) -- Thad Matta watches the video clips over and over. Somewhere in the midst of all those pixels he's trying to find the answers to what's wrong with his Ohio State Buckeyes.

The thing is, it's hard to point to just one thing. The instant he thinks he's solved a problem, something else pops up.

"It appears to be a little bit of a different scenario each time," he said of the contributing factors when the Buckeyes go into a lull.

They've been doing that a lot lately. One month ago, Ohio State was unbeaten and ranked No. 3 in the nation.

The Buckeyes (17-5, 4-5 Big Ten) begin February having lost five of seven games and find themselves out of The Associated Press Top 25 for the first time in 80 polls, since January 2010.

Heading into Tuesday's game at No. 17 Iowa, Matta and his staff are scrambling to patch some holes and get things turned around. The Buckeyes pulled off a big road win on Saturday, edging No. 14 Wisconsin 59-58.

"It's a lot easier said than done, reeling a couple off," Matta said.

The last two games, including an overtime loss to Penn State at home, have come down to a final shot.

"I'd love to not be in that position," Matta said. "It's making me old."

The reasons for the Buckeyes' failures -- and what they did right in winning -- are elusive.

Offensive mistakes have been a big problem. The Buckeyes were averaging just over 10 turnovers a game; they've averaged more than 13 a game in the last seven games.

The Buckeyes have also had trouble shooting.

They were making 47.4 percent of their shots from the field before their swoon and are at 40.5 percent since.

Matta saw signs at Wisconsin -- as tough a place to play as there in the Big Ten (at least until the Badgers dropped their last three at home) -- which were encouraging.

TOP 25

No. 2 SYRACUSE 61,

NOTRE DAME 55

SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- Trevor Cooney scored a career-high 33 points, matching a school record with nine 3-pointers, and top-ranked Syracuse beat Notre Dame 61-55 on Monday night in another matchup of former Big East foes.

No. 6 VILLANOVA 81, XAVIER 58

VILLANOVA, Pa. -- James Bell hit six 3-pointers and scored 27 points and Darrun Hilliard had 17 to lead No. 6 Villanova to a win over Xavier.

The Wildcats (20-2, 8-1 Big East) never trailed and have won four straight games since a 28-point loss to No. 12 Creighton on Jan. 20.

No. 16 IOWA STATE 98,

No. 19 OKLAHOMA STATE 97, 3OT

STILLWATER, Okla. -- DeAndre Kane had 26 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists to help Iowa State defeat Oklahoma State.

Melvin Ejim had 22 points and 12 rebounds, Georges Niang scored 17 points and Dustin Hogue added 10 points and 13 rebounds for the Cyclones (17-4, 5-4 Big 12), who have beaten six ranked teams this season.

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