Ohio State Bounces Back to Knock off UCLA

22nd ranked Ohio State survived a physical game that saw 8 lead changes to outlast UCLA in the CBS Sports Classic in Cleveland, 77-70 to improve to 6-1 on the season. In what was a physical game that saw 8 lead changes and the Buckeyes leading scorer, E.J. Liddell foul out with just over 7 minutes to go was spurred by a pair of freshmen, Zed Key and Gene Brown to propel the Buckeyes past the Bruins for the 2nd time in 3 tries in the Classic. Duane Washington led the Buckeyes with 14 and Zed Key added 11 and C.J. Walker 10 for the winning Buckeyes, who held UCLA to just 40% from the floor while hitting 50% themselves.  The Bruins, picked to win the Pac-12, lost for just the second time in 7 ballgames.

E.J. Liddell, back in the lineup after missing the previous two with mono, opened the scoring, drilling his first triple of the year from the top.  After a UCLA bucket, Justice Sueing went hard to the rim for a score and a Walker fade away J from 15 put Ohio State up 7-2 early.  After a Bruin bucket cut it to three, Kyle Young grabbed a loose ball at the block and scored while being fouled and drilled the free throw to put the Buckeyes up 10-4.  The Bruins came right back, going on a 6-0 run to tie it. The Buckeyes answered with a 5-0 run of their own, all off the fingertips of Musa Jallow, who capped the run with a corner three and the Buckeyes led by 5. The Bruins cut it to 3 before a pair of Duane Washington, Jr. 3’s sandwiched around a Bruin triple, gave the Buckeyes a 6 point lead, equaling their largest first half lead, and just over 8 minutes to go in the first half.  UCLA scored the next seven, however, to take their first lead of the game.  Kyle Young split a pair of free throws to tie it and the teams would trade buckets over the next couple of minutes before Gene Brown drilled a triple from the right wing to put Ohio State up a point and at the final media timeout of the first half, Ohio State led UCLA 33-32.  Sueing found Liddell at the block for a dunk give Ohio State a three-point lead but UCLA scored the next six to go up three themselves. A spinner in the lane by Walker ended the run and cut the lead to just one and Musa Jallow got to the rim for a score to give Ohio State a lead that they would take to the locker room and at the half, Ohio State was on top 39-38. Musa Jallow and E.J. Liddell led Ohio State with seven each at the break, while Walker and Washington each added 6. The Buckeyes hit on 55.6% of their shot attempts, while knocking down 5 of 13 from three. In an even half, both teams refrained from the turnover, with the Bruins turning it over 4 times compared to 5 Buckeye turnovers.  Rebounding was also even, with UCLA holding a slim 15-14 advantage in that category.  Fouls, however were not even as 11 fouls were whistled on Ohio State, leading the Bruins to 10 of 14 from the stripe, while UCLA was called for just 6 fouls and the Buckeyes hit 4 of 5 from the line.

The Bruins opened the second half scoring with a bucket to take a one-point lead. The Buckeyes scored the next four with buckets by Sueing and Young to go up three. UCLA battled back, going on an 11-2 run to take a 6-point lead, their largest of the game. Key completed an old-fashioned three-point play to cut the lead to three, but UCLA drilled a triple from the right wing to back up six.  The Buckeyes came back on the next possession and quickly Justin Ahrens buried a triple of his own to cut the deficit to three and with 12:27 remaining, UCLA led 54-51. A UCLA bucket put the Bruins back up five, but after Key split a pair of free throws, Washington spun in the lane and a left-handed leaner dropped to cut the lead to a pair.  After two each way, Jallow picked off a UCLA pass and got fouled going to the rim, but only split the pair to cut the lead to one.  A pair of UCLA free throws was followed by a 15 foot fader off a reverse pivot by Liddell to cut the lead back to one. A key moment in the game came at the 7:21 mark, when Liddell picked up a fifth foul, ending his night on what looked to be a questionable call. A UCLA free throw put the Bruins back up two, but Washington scored with a high banker down the right side to tie the game. After a UCLA score, Washington bagged a pair of free throws to tie once again and after Key got a blocked shot on the defensive end, Gene Brown bagged a three from the right wing to give Ohio State their first lead since the opening moments of the second half. UCLA scored on their next possession, but Brown again banged in a triple from the right corner this time and UCLA called timeout with Ohio State now leading 69-65 and 4:27 remaining in the game. After a UCLA tip dunk, Key scored on a rebound and put back and then Walker bagged two freebies to put Ohio State up six. The Bruins cut the lead to five by splitting a pair of free throws and the game would go scoreless until Washington drilled a pair of free throws to put the Buckeyes up 7 with 51 seconds to go to all but seal it.


The Buckeyes showed resilience and fight in this game and in particular two freshmen grew up before our eyes. Zed Key was a big, physical presence in the paint and came up with big rebounds and points late and was disruptive on the defensive end.  Another freshman, Gene Brown, knocked down a pair of triples late in the ballgame that put Ohio State ahead for good, coming off the bench cold and drilling two big shots. This game will loom large as a big quad 1 win when it comes to tourney time.  They played what Chris Holtmann characterized as their “best game of the year” and utilized toughness down the stretch to pull out a huge victory. It was also good to see Seth Towns make his Buckeye debut although it was only a couple late first half minutes.  He is a guy that can make this Buckeye team dangerous as we move into the new year with his length and ability to get to the rim and score the basketball. Hopefully today is a game that can springboard the Buckeyes into a strong finish to 2020.

The Buckeyes will play host to #19 Rutgers in the Schott on Wednesday afternoon as they move back into Big Ten action.  Game time for that one is scheduled for 4:30 pm and airing on BTN.


-Jason Harris

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