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You don’t have to be the favorite to choke

Putting yourself into position to win is good. Pooing that away is bad.

South Dakota State v Ohio State
“All these dudes stopped passing to me!”
Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

South Dakota State came into their game with Ohio State projected to lose by about 8 and toting a win probability of about 19%. They had played only two teams anywhere close to OSU’s caliber all year, and had lost those two games by an average of 22 points.

Their only hope was Mike “The Dauminator” Daum.

Daum came out of the game going ham. He hit 6 of his first 9 shots and had the Jackrabbits tied with OSU at 43 at the half.

The second half started miserably, with SDSU scoring 5 points in the first 8 minutes and at one point taking ten straight trips down the floor without bringing a single point back. Down 61-48 with 12 minutes left, they were all but dead and buried.

Then came the charge. Mike Daum and Brandon Key sparked a 22-9 run over the course of the next 10 minutes that drew South Dakote State back to level pegging with 1:53 left in the game.

Then the Jackrabbits fell apart. They not only shot 0-5/0-3/3-4 to close the game on the offensive end, but the completely decompensated on defense. On consecutive possessions, they fouled three-point shooters, giving up a 7-0 run in the process. They rushed into shots when they didn’t need to, leading to empty possessions that often didn’t feature their best player getting a touch, to say nothing of a look.

South Dakota State ran back into the game with good offense and healthy dose of Mike Daum. Down the stretch, they faded like cut grass from a position about as favorable as you could imagine for them. It was sad to watch.