Ohio State Upsets Top Ranked Duke in Columbus

Ohio State, playing short handed once again, finished on a 12-0 run to come from 15 behind to upset #1 Duke 71-66 in front of a sold out crowd at the Schott.  With the win, Ohio State moves to 5-2 on the young season, sending Duke down to their first loss and a 7-1 record. Zed Key led Ohio State with a career high 20 while E.J. Liddell added 14 points and 14 rebounds. Cedric Russell came off the bench and scored 12 big points en route to the upset victory. The Buckeyes defense held Duke to just 38% shooting on the game and shot 48% themselves. 

Ohio State jumped out early, keyed by active defense in the half court as 4 from Malaki Branham and a Zed Key hook in the middle of the lane put the Buckeyes up 8-4 early but a Duke triple in transition cut the lead to 8-7 at the first media timeout. Jamari Wheeler drilled a jumper and E.J. Liddell followed with a short j to put Ohio State up 13-7.  The Buckeyes got a little loose with the ball and Duke took advantage scoring the next six to tie the score at the under 12 media timeout. Liddell put the Buckeyes back in front with a short jumper but a 8-0 Duke run put the Blue Devils in front by 6. Branham hit a short jumper to cut the lead to six and after Duke took an eight point lead, Key got a pass from Liddell for a dunk to cut the lead back to six, Another Blue Devil bucket put Duke up by 8 at the under 8 timeout. Zed Key hit a short jumper in the paint to cut the lead to six and  Justin Ahrens made 1 of 3 free throws to cut the lead to five. Duke upped the lead to seven with a pair of freebies, but a long Liddell three cut the lead to four, but Duke answered with a three of their own. Meechie Johnson missed a front end and Duke hit a jumper to go up 9 and at the under 4 media timeout, Duke led Ohio State 34-25. Another Ohio State miss at the free throw line and Duke took advantage, increasing the lead with a jumper to 11. Cedric Russell knocked down a triple to cut the lead to 8 and a Key free throw cut the lead to 7. A Duke bucket increased the lead to 9 and Chris Holtman called timeout with 1:16 in the first half as Duke led 38-29. 5 straight Duke points put the Blue Devils up 14, but Liddell split a pair of free throws just before the horn to send them teams to the locker room with Duke leading 43-30. Duke hit on 53% of their first half shot attempts and forced the Buckeyes into 9 turnovers to get the comfortable lead. Ohio State struggled from the stripe, otherwise would be right in the game, making just 3 of 10 including a couple of front ends on one and ones which killed Ohio State’s chances to keep the game close. Zed Key led Ohio State with 9 first half points, while E.J. Liddell added 8, but turnovers and missed free throws cost Ohio State in a big way in the first 20 minutes. Wendell Moore and Pablo Banchero led Duke with 10 each and a 9-0 transition advantage led to the Duke lead. 

Duke increased the lead to 15 and a pair of buckets each way, kept the lead at 15. Wheeler hit a shot that was goaltended to cut the lead to 13, and after four more Buckeye points, Ohio State trailed by 9. A pair of Duke freebies increased the lead to 9 and at the under 16 media timeout, Duke was on top 53-42. Key hit a short jumper in the paint to cut the lead to 9 and in transition, Ahrens drilled a three from the left wing that hit every part of the iron before dropping to cut the lead to six and Coach K called timeout with 12:31 left in the game and Duke leading 53-47, but Ohio State on a 5-0 run. Duke went back up 8 when a pair of free throws dropped and the Blue Devils went up 10 after Ohio State missed on a three attempt and Duke got a quick bucket. Russell drilled another three to cut the lead to seven. A Duke 5-0 run upped the lead to 11, but a Key free throw and Branham reverse lay in and a pair of Key free throws cut the lead to 7. Duke split a pair of free throws to go up 8, but a pair of Key jump hooks sandwiched around a Duke bucket had Ohio State down 6 and Duke called timeout with 4:49 to go. Duke split a pair of free throws to go up 7 but Wheeler scored off the dribble drive left of the rim to cut the lead to 5 and Duke called timeout with 3:20 to go and clinging to a 66-61 lead. A Russell triple from the left corner cut the lead to just two and Russell split a pair of free throws to cut it to a one point game. The Buckeyes took the lead when Liddell drilled a pair of free throws with just 1:03 to go. A Duke miss and a tie up gave the ball back to Ohio State and Chris Holtman called timeout with Ohio State leading 67-66 with 41 second left in the game. Liddell hit a 15 footer to put Ohio State up three and after another Duke miss, Russell bagged a pair of free throws to seal it and Ohio State upset top ranked Duke in a monster win for Ohio State.

What can you say about a win like this?  The Buckeyes have been struggling to find their identity without what is probably their second best player in Justice Sueing, but they may have found an answer with graduate transfer Cedric Russell. Russell, who transferred from Louisiana with a reputation as a shooter, and he came through in a big way and earned himself more minutes after this game.  The story was Ohio State’s second half defense, holding Duke scoreless for the final 4:29 and hitting big shots down the stretch to pull the big upset.  It will be a confidence builder for Ohio State as they move forward, getting big contributions from players other than E.J. Liddell.  This is a game that can propel them forward as they enter the early Big Ten season. With the adversity that this team has faced in the early going, a win like this over the #1 team in America is something they can certainly build on and hopefully it becomes a statement win that they look back on as a turning point in the season.  

Ohio State will head back on the road looking to build on this win and head into Big Ten play, facing Penn State in State College on Sunday evening.  Game time for that one is scheduled for 7:30 pm and airing on the Big Ten Network. 

-Jason Harris 

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