Ohio State Comes From Behind to Hand Rutgers Their First Loss

#23 Ohio State downed visiting #11 Rutgers in Big Ten play on Wednesday afternoon 80-68 to move to 7-1 and even their record at 1-1 in the Big Ten.  With the loss, Rutgers drops to 6-1 and 2-1 in conference play. Trailing by as many as 16 early in the second half, Ohio State roared back thanks to a 20-1 scoring run to keep Rutgers as the only conference opponent to not have a win at the Schottenstein Center. Duane Washington Jr led a trio of Buckeyes in double figures with a career high 22, catching fire from deep in the second half sparking the comeback. E.J. Liddell added 21 and Kyle Young finished with a double-double, scoring 17 and pulling down 12 rebounds.

The Buckeyes got the scoring started as C.J. Walker found Duane Washington, Jr. in transition off a Scarlet Knights turnover for a three from the high left point.  Following a Rutgers miss, Walker found Kyle Young and the block for a bucket and Ohio State scored the first five. Rutgers came right back, scoring 10 of the next 12 points to take a 10-7 lead into the first media timeout with the Buckeyes hitting only 3 of their first 8 shot attempts. A pair of Justice Sueing free throws cut the lead to one, but Rutgers scored the next eight to lead 18-9. Washington found Zed Key at the block for a dunk to trim the deficit to seven but after a miss each way, Rutgers got out in transition for a score forcing Chris Holtmann to call timeout with Ohio State on the short end of the scoreboard 20-11 with 10:49 left in the first half. A bucket by Rutgers out of the timeout doubled up the Buckeyes at 22-11, but the Buckeyes would get back on the scoreboard with an E.J. Liddell free throw and a bucket on the next possession to cut the lead to eight. Rutgers would go back up eleven before back-to-back dunks by Kyle Young and Liddell cutting the deficit to 9. A pair of Rutgers free throws followed by a Key dunk preceded a Rutgers three, their sixth of the game thus far had Ohio State trailing by 12. Washington cut into that lead, driving to the rim and scoring while being fouled and knocked down the free throw to cut the lead to nice with 3:31 left in the first half. A Rutgers triple gave the Knights a 12-point lead and when Ohio State turned it over on the inbounds pass, a foul and a split pair of free throws put Rutgers up 12 with 2:25 remaining. Liddell answered, barging to the rim and scoring while being fouled and knocked down the free throw for the old-fashioned three-point play to cut the lead back to 10 and the third foul on Rutgers big man Myles Johnson.  A score each way ended the first half scoring with Rutgers taking a 38-28 lead into the break in large part due to their hot shooting from long range, hitting 7 of 13 from beyond the arc as compared to an abysmal 1 of 10 for Ohio State. The Buckeyes hit only 11 of 30 from the field, although the Buckeyes did have an advantage on the backboards, outrebounding Rutgers 19-17. Kyle Young and E.J. Liddell led Ohio State with 8 each in the first 20 minutes, while Ron Harper Jr. of Rutgers led all scorers with 10.

The Buckeyes quickly cut the margin to 6 after four Kyle Young points but Rutgers would score the next 7 to back up 13 forcing Chris Holtmann to call timeout with Ohio State trailing the Scarlet Knights 45-32 and 16:06 left in the game. Rutgers increased their run to 10-0, ballooning their lead to 16 before a Washington triple found the bottom to cut the lead back to 13. After a Rutgers bucket, Washington drilled another three to cut the lead to 12 but Rutgers answered with an ‘and one’ opportunity, increasing the lead back to 15. Seth Towns got his first bucket as a Buckeye off a rebound and put back to trim the deficit to 13 and another Washington triple cut the lead to 10 and at the under 12 media timeout, Ohio State trailed Rutgers 55-45. A Liddell score at the block cut the lead to 8 and another Towns rebound and put back cut the lead to six. Ron Harper Jr of Rutgers scored points 19 and 20 with a short jumper to put Rutgers back up 8. On the next possession, Washington penetrated the lane and lobbed to Liddell for the jam and the Buckeyes once again trailed by six. A Rutgers hoop and a Buckeye free throw brought Ohio State within seven.  The Buckeyes crept to within four when Musa Jallow followed a Washington miss with a tip in while being fouled and completed the three-point play knocking down the free throw and at the under 8 media timeout, Rutgers led 59-55. A pair of Knight free throws bumped the lead to six but the Buckeyes scored the next four to cut the lead to two forcing Rutgers to call timeout with 5:39 to go in the game. A Washington runner tied the score and after a technical foul on the Rutgers bench, Washington buried a pair of free throws giving Ohio State their first lead since the 15:53 mark of the first half, a lead they would not relinquish. The Buckeyes increased the lead to four when Liddell hit a fade away jumper from 10 and at the final media timeout of the game, Ohio State had come all the way back to take a 65-61 lead.  The Buckeyes had gone on a 14-2 scoring run since Rutgers center Myles Johnson fouled out. The run would move to 18-2 following a Walker lob to Young for the lay in and Liddell’s short jumper put Ohio State up 8. A Rutgers free throw, their only points over the previous 6 plus minutes, cut the lead to 7 and Ohio State upped the lead to 13 at the free throw line and with just over a minute to play, Ohio State led 75-62 and on a 20-1 scoring run. The Buckeyes would complete the win at the stripe, coming all the way back to steal victory from the clutches of defeat.

Resiliency.  That is the word of the day for Ohio State. As Chris Holtmann said, this may be the most resilient effort by his group since Coach Holtmann took over as head coach of the program. The Buckeye defense was large in this ball game specifically in the second half, making Rutgers uncomfortable on the offensive end and their shooting percentage reflected that.  Rutgers seemingly couldn’t miss from deep in the first half but hit just 3 of 12 from long range in the second half and made just one field goal in the last 12 minutes. A lot of that is directly reflective of Ohio State’s defense, who extended the floor and when Myles Johnson fouled out, they lacked an inside presence and the Buckeyes took advantage. The stat of the day might be the rebounding margin.  The smaller Buckeyes outrebounded the Scarlet Knights by a 45-25 margin and it was that effort and toughness that allowed the Buckeyes to come back. It was also good to see some quality minutes from Seth Towns, who affected the basketball game positively in his 5 second half minutes, scoring a pair of buckets, which is another positive step in his comeback from injury. Bottom line is it’s another big quad 1 win for Ohio State and the win also gets them back even in conference play and in this conference, it is important to take care of the home floor and thus far the Buckeyes have done just that.  

The Buckeyes will take the floor again on Saturday afternoon, going on the road to Evanston, Illinois to take on Northwestern at 2pm and airing on FS1.




-Jason Harris

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