Ohio State Ends Skid, Advances in the Big Ten Tournament
The 9th ranked Ohio State basketball Buckeyes, ended their 4 game losing streak, topping Minnesota to advance to the Big Ten Tournament Quarterfinals. Ohio State got out to a big early lead and fighting off several Minnesota charges to earn a 79-75 win. The Buckeyes were led by Duane Washington and Justice Sueing who each had 16. E.J. Liddell had 14 and Kyle Young chipped in 11 and C.J. Walker added 10 to go along with 6 rebounds and 6 assists, as Ohio State moves to 19-8 for the season.
The Buckeyes got out to an early lead thanks to dominant play in the paint. Four from Duane Washington, Jr. and an old fashioned three point play by Kyle Young had Ohio State enjoying a 9-0 lead at the first media timeout of the game. Justice Sueing scored mid paint and after Washington found Young with a lob at the rim for a dunk, the Buckeyes were up 13-0. Minnesota finally got on the board at the 13-minute mark and another Gopher score cut the lead to 9 at the under 12 media timeout. The Gophers cut the lead to 6 as the Minnesota run increased to 7-0 before a pair of C.J. Walker free throws got Ohio State back on the board. Another Gopher bucket cut the lead back to six before Kyle Young used a drop step at the block and scored off the glass. After a Minnesota miss, Liddell scored off the window to put the Buckeyes up 10. The Gophers scored on a short jumper from the right wing to trim the lead back to 8 as both teams were struggling to shoot the basketball in the early going. Justin Ahrens increased the lead to 10 with a steal and transition score, but on the next Gopher possession an extremely questionable flagrant foul on Musa Jallow created a four-point possession for Minnesota. The Gophers cut the lead to four before a pick and pop triple from the top by Liddell, increasing the lead to seven. Minnesota answered with a three of their own, but Washington found Sueing along the baseline with a lob for a dunk and the Buckeyes were back up six. After a Gopher missed three on their end, Washington buried a triple from the left wing and Minnesota called timeout with Ohio State back up 9 and 3:30 to go in the first half. Minnesota cut the lead to seven but on the move to the rim, Minnesota was hit for a flagrant 1 foul putting Liddell at the line to shoot a pair. He split the pair putting the Buckeyes up eight. Sueing drilled a three from the right wing putting the Buckeyes up 11 and after a Gopher miss, Walker found Jallow at the rim in transition putting Ohio State up 13. Three Gopher free throws trimmed the lead to 10, but Zed Key’s short jumper off the glass bumped the lead back to 12. The Gophers cut the lead back to 10 and had the ball holding for a last shot, when Jallow came up with a steal and score to put the Buckeyes up 39-27 at the end of the first 20 minutes. The Buckeyes were led by 8 from E.J. Liddell and 7 each from Sueing, Young and Washington. Ohio State held Minnesota to just 25% shooting in the first half, including just 2 of 15 from deep. The Buckeyes hit on 55% of their field goal attempts, and 3 of 6 from long range.
Minnesota scored the first four of the second half to trim Ohio State’s lead quickly to 8. The run ended when Walker put the ball and the deck and got to the left of the rim for a score and bump the lead back to 10. A Gopher bucket was followed by a short jumper by Liddell and when Washington came off a screen at the top of the key and buried a three, Ohio State was up 13. The Gophers answered with a three of their own to cut the lead back to 10. Young answered with a spin move mid lane and score to the right of the rim and after a Minnesota bucket, the Buckeyes led by 10 at the first media timeout of the second half. The Gophers cut it back to eight, but a strong Sueing move in the lane increased the lead back to 10 once again as the game was going back and forth for the last few minutes. A Gopher triple cut the lead to seven and after a Walker free throw, another Minnesota triple cut the lead to just five. A Jallow 17 footer from the right wing stemmed the tide briefly, but another Gopher three trimmed the lead to four and Minnesota called a quick timeout with 7:34 remaining in the game and Minnesota on a 16-7 run. A pair of Sueing free throws followed by a Jallow bucket along the baseline upped the lead to 8. After a Gopher free throw, Walker converted an old-fashioned three-point play and Liddell scored at the rim to put the Buckeyes up 12. The teams traded buckets over the next couple of minutes and after Walker hit a fade away from 12, Chris Holtmann called timeout with Ohio State leading 68-56 and 3:57 showing on the game clock. Washington increased the lead to 14, scoring off the bounce, knifing through the middle of the lane for two. The Gophers cut the lead to 12 and after a pair of free throws each way, a Gopher triple cut the Buckeye lead to 9 and a quick Gopher timeout was called with just 1:30 to go. Minnesota cut it to 7 and a quick foul sent Young to the line and he nailed both. Minnesota cut it to 7 again and a Buckeye turnover in the backcourt enabled the Gophers to cut it to 5. Sueing split a pair of free throws and Minnesota scored quickly to cut the lead to 4. An offensive foul on Washington gave the ball back to Minnesota with 34 seconds to go. A missed triple gave the ball back to the Buckeyes and put Sueing back at the stripe. Sueing missed both giving the Gophers another opportunity, and they took advantage, hitting a triple cutting the lead to just 1. The Buckeyes called a timeout, called by C.J. Walker as Washington was trapped in the corner. The clock showed 8.9 seconds to play and the Buckeyes had the ball and a one-point lead. A quick foul sent Liddell to the stripe and he knocked both of them down putting the Buckeyes up 3. A foul put Minnesota at the line with 6.8 seconds to go and the first dropped. The second went off the mark and after the Buckeye rebound, Washington went to the stripe to ice it.
Getting a good feeling back in the locker room was the order and the Buckeyes delivered. Coming off a tough stretch, it was paramount for this team to get a winning feeling again as they enter the ‘second season’. Despite sloppy play down the stretch, Ohio State was able to survive. They will definitely need to be better in late game situations as the level of competition will ratchet up the rest of the weekend. Having said that, a win is a win and the goal is to survive and advance in tournament season and Ohio State definitely survived and they have the opportunity to advance. They need to do a better job of taking care of the basketball and be more efficient on the offensive end to advance further, but the good news is they have the opportunity tomorrow to do just that.
The Buckeyes will hit the floor again tomorrow afternoon, tipping at approximately 2PM right back at Lucas Oil Stadium for a matchup with 20th ranked Purdue.