Buckeyes Beaten Decisively on the Road

#25 Ohio State looking for first conference road win in three tries, failed in their attempt, falling on the road to #21 Minnesota, 77-60 to fall  to 2-3 in conference and 8-3 overall.  With the win, their third straight over the Buckeyes, the Gophers improve to 3-2 in the Big Ten and 10-2 overall. In their only meeting of the season, the size of Minnesota, in particular Liam Robbins, who scored a career high 27 to go along with 14 rebounds and 5 blocks for the winning Gophers. Ohio State was led by Duane Washington Jr, who scored 21 and E.J. Liddell added 10 for the Buckeyes who had 10 total players reach the scoring column but shot just under 32% for the game and a dismal 27% from beyond the arc in the loss.

The Gophers got out to a quick 7-0 lead before a pair of Kyle Young free throws got the Buckeyes on the board. After a Minnesota bucket, Justice Sueing found Young in the right corner for three to cut the lead to 9-5. The Gophers scored the next five forcing Chris Holtmann to call timeout with the Buckeyes looking up at a 14-5 deficit. After a Buckeye miss and a foul on the other end, the Gophers took a baseline inbounds play and executed an alley oop to increase their advantage to 11 and at the first media timeout of the game, Minnesota was off to a quick start, leading 16-5. The Buckeyes upped the intensity and roared back thanks to a 10-1 run, eight from Duane Washington Jr, including two triples, to cut the lead to just 2 at the under 12 media timeout.  A pair of E.J. Liddell free throws out of the timeout upped the Buckeye run to 12-1 and tied the game with 11:39 to go in the first half. A Gopher triple stopped the Buckeye run and gave Minnesota a three-point lead.  The Buckeyes trimmed the lead to a point when Sueing made an aggressive move to the rim for the score and after the Gophers split a pair of free throws, Sueing got to the rim again and tied it. A 4-0 Gopher run ended by another Washington triple, this time from the right wing to cut the lead back to one. The Gophers went back up three at the media timeout with Walker heading to the stripe. Walker bagged both free throws to trim the Gopher lead to a point and following a Gopher miss, Washington found Liddell at the rim for a dunk to give the Buckeyes their first lead of the game. A quick Minnesota score and timeout put the Gophers up a point and a quick timeout was called. During the timeout, a technical foul was assessed to the Buckeye bench and a pair of Gopher free throws put Minnesota up 3.  Gene Brown got to the rim for a bucket to cut the lead to one but Minnesota answered with a triple to go back up four. A pair of Washington free throws cut the lead back to a pair but a Gopher short jumper put Minnesota back up four and at the final media timeout of the half, Ohio State trailed Minnesota 36-32. Seth Towns split a pair of free throws to cut the lead to three. The Gophers upped the lead to seven before a long rebound turned into a Justin Ahrens triple and Ohio State trailed by four. The Gophers got the last bucket of the half to take a 43-37 lead into the break. Eight different Buckeyes found the score sheet, led by Washington who led the Buckeyes with 13 at the half as Ohio State struggled inside against the big 7 footer, Liam Robbins of Minnesota who was affecting the game on both ends. Ohio State hit just 38% from the field in the first half but did make 5 of their 10 first half three point attempts keeping them in it. Robbins led all scorers with 16 for Minnesota, who made 51.7% of their shot attempts and outrebounded Ohio State 18-14.

A 5-2 Gopher start put Minnesota up 9 in the early minutes of the second half but Walker found Liddell streaking down the middle of the paint in transition to cut the lead to 7 and that’s where it stood at the first media timeout of the second half. With the Gophers up 8, Zed Key found the bottom with a short jump hook to cut it to six, but that’s as close as Ohio State would get the rest of the way. A pair of Minnesota free throws, a Buckeye turnover turned into a layup on the other end and Chris Holtmann called timeout as Minnesota led 53-43 with 13:24 to go in the ballgame. A Key rebound put back cut the lead to 8 but a Gopher triple put Minnesota back up 11. A Washington triple cut the lead to 8 momentarily before Minnesota drilled a three of their own to back up 11. After a Washington 15 footer fell, another Gopher 3 put Minnesota up 12. After a Buckeye miss, a pair of Gopher freebies extended the deficit to 14 and after another Buckeye miss, the Gophers’ Marcus Carr completed an old-fashioned three-point play and the Gophers were running away with it. A Washington triple from the top cut the lead to 14 but Minnesota answered with a three of their own to go right back up 17 with time running out on Ohio State. The Gophers extended the lead to 19 before a pair of Sueing free throws and a Musa Jallow spinner in the lane cut it to 15 but with just under 4 to go, this one was well in hand.

Sometimes you play in a game where it’s just a bad matchup and this was definitely that type of game for Ohio State.  The Gophers size inside frustrated the Buckeyes on both ends as they were unable to get anything around the rim due to the Minnesota shot blocker Robbins. That frustration turned into some bad half court sets which led to turnovers and points on the other end. The hole the Buckeyes dug in the second half allowed Minnesota to get comfortable on the offensive end and the game spiraled out of control for Ohio State as the Gophers found a rhythm on offense. On the plus side, Washington seemed to find his stroke from deep, which should give him some confidence going forward as Ohio State will just need to regroup and move on from this one.

The Buckeyes return home on Wednesday evening, hosting Penn State in the Schott at 6:30 PM and airing on BTN.

-Jason Harris

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