Ohio State’s Struggles Continue, Falling at Home to Minnesota
A miserable shooting second half ultimately cost Ohio State, scoring just 22 points and blowing an 11-point lead, losing to Minnesota 62-59 in the Schott. With the loss, Ohio State has now lost 6 of 7 to fall to 12-7 and just 2-6 in the conference. Kyle Young led Ohio State with 14, while Duane Washington added 12 and C.J. Walker scored 11. Kaleb Wesson was held to just 2 points on 1 of 10 shooting but did pull down 14 rebounds in the defeat.
Minnesota grabbed a lead early thanks to 3 Buckeye turnovers and a pair of triples, leading 15-10 at the under 12 media timeout. A 6-0 Buckeye run out of the timeout, the
last coming on a Duane Washington runner along the left side of the lane put Ohio State up briefly. After a Gopher bucket, a three from the right corner off the fingers of Washington put the Buckeyes up 2. The Buckeye lead went to 4 on the ensuing possession but a 5-0 Gopher run put Minnesota up 22-21 and Chris Holtmann called timeout with 7:20 to go in the first half. Out of the timeout, Luther Muhammad put the ball on the deck and went to the rim along the left side of the lane for a score to give Ohio State the lead. A free throw each way was followed by a C.J. Walker three from the right wing to put Ohio State up 4. Another Walker free throw gave Ohio State their largest lead thus far, up 28-23 and on a 7-1 run heading into the final media timeout of the half and D.J. Carton heading to the stripe. Carton buried both and Ohio State led 30-23. A pair of Gopher free throws cut the lead back to 5 but a 2 man game with D.J. Carton and Kaleb Wesson led to a Carton corner 3 putting Ohio State up 8. After a Gopher miss, Muhammad drove the right baseline drawing the foul and he converted both free throw opportunities to put the Buckeyes up 10. A late Gopher 3 following a timeout against the Ohio State zone cut the lead to 7 but C.J. Walker buried a jumper just inside the arc at the horn to send the teams to the locker room with Ohio State leading 37-28. Both teams leading scorers were scoreless in the first half. Minnesota’s Daniel Oturo coming in averaging 22 was held with a goose egg in the scoring column including 2 fouls. Kaleb Wesson was scoreless in the first half, but did pull down 9 rebounds. C.J. Walker and D.J. Carton led Ohio State with 8 each in the first 20 minutes. Ohio State hit 4 of 9 from long and 50% overall, while holding the Gophers to just 37% from the field, including 4 of 11 from beyond the arc.
Wesson didn’t stay scoreless long, after his short jumper was blocked, he stayed with it and followed with a dunk to put Ohio State up 11. Minnesota answered with a quick 7-0 run forcing Chris Holtmann to call timeout with 16:34 to go and the Buckeye lead shrunk to just 4 as Ohio State missed 4 of their first 5 shot attempts. A Gopher free throw upped the run to 8-0 and trimmed the Buckeye lead to 3. C.J. Walker split a pair of free throws to stem the tide a bit and put Ohio State up 4. A Gopher free throw and a bucket cut the lead to 1 before a Duane Washington banker from the block put Ohio State back up 3. The lead went back to one when Minnesota scored in transition after an Ohio State miss but a half hook in the paint from Kyle Young dropped to put Ohio State back up 3 heading into the under 12 media timeout. The teams would trade buckets over the next 4 minutes before a pair of Gopher free throws and a lay in gave Minnesota their first lead since the 7-minute mark of the first half. Duane Washington made the lead short lived, bagging a three from the left wing to put Ohio State back up 2. A Gopher bucket the other way tied it as the teams went into the under 8 timeout deadlocked at 51 with 6:47 left on the clock. A Muhammad steal led to a Walker lay up in transition to put Ohio State up 2 but Minnesota answered with a 3 and Chris Holtmann called a timeout with Minnesota on top 54-53 and 4:40 left in the game. A Gopher jumper gave Minnesota a 3 point lead briefly before Kyle Young scored while being fouled but missed the free throw with a chance to tie and the Buckeyes still trailing by 1. Minnesota split a pair of free throws to lead by 2. A Kyle Young dunk off a second chance opportunity tied the score with 1:49 to go. After a Minnesota miss, Kaleb Wesson found Kyle Young for a lay in giving Ohio State the lead and Minnesota called timeout with 1:01 to go and Ohio State up 59-57. Kaleb Wesson blocked the first Minnesota opportunity but after the inbounds, the Gophers converted in the paint to tie the score with 41 seconds to go and Ohio State called a quick timeout to set up their offensive set. After Kaleb Wesson missed a wide-open three attempt, Minnesota buried theirs to go up 3 with 7 seconds to go. Ohio State turned it over on the inbounds pass and after a missed Minnesota free throw, Duane Washington’s desperation 3 clanged off target and that was that.
So it’s time to start questioning the leadership of this team. We can give them the benefit of the doubt only so long but there is definitely something wrong inside that locker room and it starts at the top. I have never seen a team go from the top of the mountain to the lowest of lows so quickly and everyone associated with that program including Chris Holtmann and the staff needs to take a long, hard look at what they are doing. The Buckeyes are now facing a long road ahead that doesn’t get any easier and the way they are playing, there is a distinct possibility they will miss the NCAA tournament. This was a game they needed in a big way at home and they failed miserably. They don’t have any consistent scoring option and struggle against any team with size. It’s going to be a tough last month plus of the season if they continue to play like this. They need to start stringing some wins together in a hurry to salvage what’s left of the season and I’m not sure they have what it takes, but I hope they prove me wrong.
The Buckeyes take the floor again on Sunday evening, emanating from Evanston, Illinois as they take on Northwestern. Tip time is scheduled for 6:30 pm airing on the Big Ten Network.
In other news, it has been reported that Dick Schnittker, a three-sport standout at Sandusky High School who went on to star at Ohio State and win a pair of NBA championships, died last week at age 91. He died of natural causes at his Green Valley, Arizona, home Jan. 12.
Despite a scholarship offer in football, Schnittker opted to try out for basketball at Ohio State. Not only did he make the team, he quickly became the Buckeyes’ best player. He averaged 18.4 points per game in three seasons, leading Ohio State to the Elite Eight in 1950, his final season with the team. He even made his mark on the Ohio State football program in 1949. When OSU’s starting tight end was lost for the season due to injury, Schnittker stepped in and caught a touchdown pass against California in the Rose Bowl on Jan. 1, 1950.