Sueing’s Career Day Leads Ohio State Past #21 Texas Tech
After losing their first game in Maui on Monday, Ohio State rebounded to win the final two and return home with a 2-1 record in the premier preseason tournament in college basketball. In what would be considered a very successful three days, the Buckeyes capped the 3 day tournament by defeating 21st ranked Texas Tech 80-73. Ohio State improves to 5-1 on the season with the win, while Texas Tech falls to 4-2. Justice Sueing, returning to his home state of Hawaii, made his presence felt in a big way, scoring a career high 33 points to go along with 8 rebounds. Sean McNeil added 13 and Brice Sensabaugh had all 10 of his points in the first half as Ohio State shot 52% for the game, 8 of 20 from beyond the arc and knocked down all 18 of their free throw attempts to come away with a big win over a ranked opponent.
Texas Tech got off to a fast start, jumping out to an early 5-2 lead, but Ohio State answered with an 11-2 run, the final six coming on a pair of Sean McNeil triples to claim a 13-7 lead at the first media timeout. Justice Sueing and McNeil were the offense in the first 6 minutes, with McNeil scoring 7 and Sueing 6. More Buckeyes out of the timeout as McNeil hit a teardrop runner off the glass and Sueing scored on a rebound and put back. Tech ended the run with a triple from the top and the Red Raiders took a 30 second timeout and with 12:48 to go in the half, Ohio State led 17-10. The Buckeyes kept pouring it on out of the timeout as Bruce Thornton and Brice Sensabaugh hit back to back triples and at the under 12 media timeout and 10:50 to play in the first 20 minutes, Ohio State led 23-10. Four straight Red Raider points cut the lead to 9, but an offensive rebound by Zed Key and kick to Sensabaugh for three killed the run and put Ohio State back up 12. Tech answered with a three of their own and at the under 8, Ohio State was on top 26-17. Sensabaugh hit a runner on the baseline to put Ohio State up 11, but a 6-0 Tech run cut the lead to 5. The run ended when Key caught a Sueing feed deep in the paint and scored while being fouled. He knocked down the freebie to complete the old fashioned three point play to put the Buckeyes back ahead by 8. Tech outscored the Buckeyes 5-2 over the next minute and a half to cut the margin to 5 with the Ohio State points coming from a long Ice Likekele jumper. Prior to the under 4 media timeout, Tech got out in transition and McNeil wrapped up the Texas Tech ball handler and was called for an intentional foul sending the Red Raiders to the stripe out of the timeout, with Ohio State leading 33-28. The Red Raiders split the pair to cut the lead to 4 and a long jumper cut the lead to 2. On the other end, Sueing took a quick first step along the baseline and flushed it down to end the Red Raider run. Following a Tech player control foul turnover, Key took a Sueing feed and dunked to put Ohio State up 6. The Red Raiders got a floater to drop to cut the lead, but Key answered with a pair of free throws to keep the lead at 6. A pair of free throws the other way cut the Buckeye lead back to 4. The lead grew to 6, when a baseline inbounds pass from Sueing to Sensabaugh led to a lay in. Prior to the end of the half, Ohio state was holding for a final shot, but an illegal screen call on Sensabaugh turned it over and the Red Raiders got a penetrating runner to fall to end the half and Ohio State ahead on the scoreboard, 41-37. Both squads shot the ball well in the first half with Ohio State hitting 53% of their attempts, including 5 of 13 from three, while Texas Tech shot 54% from the floor and nailed 4 of 8 from long range. The Buckeyes had a rebounding edge, 14-11, grabbing 5 of the offensive variety and forced 7 Tech turnovers, scoring 7 points off those turnovers and turning it over just 4 times themselves. The Buckeyes also outscored the Red Raiders in the paint, 16-12 in taking the 4 point lead into the break despite leading by as many as 13 in the early going. Brice Sensabaugh and Justice Sueing each scored 10, while Sean McNeil added 9 and Zed Key chipped in 7 first half points.
The Buckeyes opened the second half on a 5-2 run to open up a 7 point lead in the first two minutes with all 5 Buckeye points scored by Justice Sueing. A pair of Texas Tech free throws cut the lead to 5 and at the under 16 media timeout, Ohio State held a 46-41 lead. Out of the timeout, Sueing drove into the paint and kicked to Thornton who buried a three from the left point to extend the lead to 8 and a couple possessions later the lead bumped to 11 when Sueing found the bottom from three. Back came the Red Raiders, executing a pretty pick and roll for a bucket and a free throw completed the three point play and a short jumper had the Red Raiders on a 5-0 run at the 12 minute media stoppage with the Buckeyes clinging to a 52-46 lead. The Buckeyes took a baseline inbounds out of the timeout and a Likekele lob to Felix Okpara finished with a flush and the Buckeyes were up 8. After a Tech deuce, Likekele took a Sensabaugh pass along the baseline and kicked out to Thornton at the left point for a triple and the Buckeyes led by 9. A pair of Tech buckets sandwiched around a Likekele rebound and score had Ohio State ahead 59-52 as the Red Raiders took a timeout with 9:28 to play. The Buckeye lead increased out of the timeout as Sueing hit a baseline jumper as he was hit and made the free throw to complete the three point play and put the Buckeyes up 10. But, Texas Tech answered again, scoring the next 4 to cut the Buckeye led to 62-56 at the under 8 media timeout and 7:15 to play. The run increased to 6-0 and the lead cut to just 4 before Sueing banged down three free throws to stem the tide and put Ohio State up 7. The Red Raiders cut it back to 4, drilling a three with just over 5 to go, but Sueing followed his own miss and scored while getting fouled and knocked down the freebie to put Ohio State back ahead by 7. With the Buckeyes beginning to take a little momentum back, Chris Holtmann made a brilliant decision to go to zone and it confused the Red Raiders and they took a long three and missed. On the other end, Sueing drilled a pair of free throws to put the Buckeyes up 9, but a steal both ways led to a transition bucket for Tech cutting the lead back to 7 and Ohio State took a timeout leading 70-63 with 3:22 to play. A couple empty possessions each way and finally a rebound and put back by Texas Tech cut the lead to 5 and the Red Raiders took a timeout with 1:58 on the game clock. The Buckeyes fended off a tie up and after a McNeil miss, Sueing gathered the rebound and scored but a pair of free throws on the other end cut the lead back to 5 with just over a minute to play. Out of the out of bounds play, a baseball pass found Sueing streaking down the floor for a dunk and the Buckeyes were up 7. A Texas Tech flush cut it back to 5 and a hard foul on McNeil coming up the sideline put him to the stripe and he banged down both with 43 seconds left. Tech scored with just 27 seconds to play and the Red Raiders took a timeout. Two more McNeil free throws dropped and after a Tech score. Key was fouled in the backcourt and he nailed both to secure the victory.
It was an extremely successful 3 days for Ohio State. They were tested for the first time all year, and answered the bell. The adjustments they made following the first game loss were marked. The young players grew up quickly and the veterans were the glue as Ohio State is announcing to the country that they are not a team to be taken lightly. They fended off every Texas Tech run and the play of Sueing was nothing short of remarkable. A kid who has come off a tough injury and battled back to have a breakout game like that, was nothing short of sensational. Ohio State’s depth and athleticism was critical in a game like this against a very aggressive defense. The backcourt played poised and under control, especially the freshman Bruce Thornton. In addition, the collective team defense did a nice job in this ballgame in the halfcourt, but there’s still work to do. The energy on that end is fueled by Ice Likekele who has consistently drawn the opponent’s top scorer and has locked them down remarkably well. The Buckeyes also shared it very well again, assisting on 15 of their 27 made field goals, while out rebounding the Red Raiders 26-25. It won’t get easier for Ohio State as they head home for a much needed break before heading on the road to face big, bad Duke who wants a little revenge after falling to the Buckeyes a year ago in Columbus. The crowd, as it always is in that joint, will be rowdy and it will be interesting to see how the young guys handle it as they will likely walk in ranked for the first time this season. For now, however, the eyes of Buckeye nation turn to the gridiron as we can now officially move on to Xichigan week. Go Bucks! Beat Xichigan!
Ohio State returns to the mainland and tips it up again next Wednesday night, traveling to Durham, NC for a date with 8th ranked Duke in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge. Game time for that matchup is scheduled for 7 PM and airing on ESPN.