Holden’s Buzzer Beater Downs Rutgers

The 25th ranked Buckeyes went up by as many as 11, before a late first half and early second half run by the Scarlet Knights tied it and a back and forth game came down to the final possession. After Rutgers missed the back end of a one and one, Tanner Holden drilled a game winning triple in front of the Ohio State bench at the horn to give the Buckeyes a 67-66 win improving the Buckeyes to 7-2 and 1-0 in conference play. With the heartbreaking loss, Rutgers slips to 6-3 and 1-1 in the Big Ten. Zed Key, the double-double machine, led Ohio State with 22 points and 14 rebounds. Brice Sensabaugh added 14 and Bruce Thornton chipped in 10 to go along with 5 assists. Rutgers out shot Ohio State, hitting 52% of their attempts, while Ohio State shot just 46% but did nail 8 of 19 three’s including the big one as time expired. The rebounding edge went to the Buckeyes, totalling 35 to Rutgers’ 27.

The Buckeyes jumped out to an early 5-2 lead with a bucket from Justice Sueing in the paint and a Zed Key three from the top. Some missed defensive assignments on the other end led to 3 Rutgers triples and a 9-0 run, but a Brice Sensabaugh three from the left wing cut into the Rutgers lead and at the first media timeout, Rutgers led Ohio State 11-8. The Buckeyes tied it with a Sean McNeil triple, a Key hook, and off a Rutgers miss, Ohio State scored in transition thanks to a Key tip in and Rutgers called timeout with Ohio State leading 15-11 and on a 10-0 run. More Buckeyes out of the timeout as the run increased to 14-0 on a backdoor cut and score by Sean McNeil and another Key hook mid lane. Rutgers ended the run with a three from the top and at the under 12 media timeout, Ohio State led Rutgers 19-14. The Buckeyes increased their lead to as many as 8 before a Rutgers bucket trimmed the lead to 6 at the under 8 media timeout and Ohio State out-scoring the Scarlet Knights 19-7 since falling behind 11-5 early. Excellent post passing led to a pair of buckets for Ohio State sandwiched around a Rutgers bucket. The first from high post, McNeil found Key for a dunk and on the next possession Key, from the left block found Sueing on the right for a lay-in. After a Rutgers turnover, Sensabaugh drilled a high arcing three from the left corner and Ohio State led by 11. Rutgers answered with a three of their own and at the final media timeout, Ohio State was on top 31-23. Three straight OSU turnovers led to six Rutgers points and a 9-0 run to get within two as Ohio State went the final 3 plus minutes scoreless and at the half Ohio State led 31-29. The Buckeyes shot 43% from the floor in the first 20 minutes, while Rutgers shot 50%, but Ohio State was dominating the glass, out rebounding Rutgers 19-12, including a 18-12 advantage on points in the paint. The Buckeyes forced 9 Scarlet Knight turnovers, but offset a bit by 7 of their own. Zed Key led all scorers with 15 first half points to go along with 8 rebounds, 6 of which were of the offensive variety.

Rutgers scored first in the second half to increase their run to 11-0 and tie the game. The run came to an end when Sensabaugh drilled a transition triple from the left corner. A missed defensive rotation on the other end led to a Rutgers dunk, but Bruce Thornton knifed to the rim for a score and on the next possession, Sueing drilled a 15 foot jumper to put Ohio State up 5. The Knights scored 5 of the next 7 as Knight’s big man Clifford Omoruyi was going to work. Ohio State’s lone bucket during the stretch came in transition from Sensabaugh off a Rutgers turnover and at the under 16 media timeout, Ohio State led 40-38. A pair of Key free throws put Ohio State up four, but Rutgers scored the next six, the last off a Buckeye turnover to take their first lead since early in the game. On their next possession, the Buckeyes used every last second of the shot clock before Thornton forced up a long three from the left wing that found the bottom giving back the lead to Ohio State. Rutgers regained the lead with two on their end, but Sensabaugh answered with a difficult baseline fade to put Ohio State on top 47-46 and a timeout taken with 10:25 to play. Rutgers split a pair of free throws to tie the game and the teams shared buckets over the next 4 minutes before a Buckeye turnover led to a Rutgers score and at the under 8 media timeout and 6:11 to play, Ohio State trailed Rutgers 55-53. The Buckeyes regained the lead when Sensabaugh put the ball on the deck and got into the lane and kicked to Sueing in the left corner for three. Omoruyi went back to work for Rutgers, scoring at the rim, but picked up his fourth foul putting him on the bench and sending Key to the stripe. Key split the pair and the game was tied with just over 4 to play. A Rutgers player control foul led to the final media break of the game and with 3:56 to play, the game was tied at 57. McNeil put the Buckeyes on top, hitting a baseline 15 footer but Rutgers tied it again, scoring at the rim. Ohio State seemingly took the lead when Sensabaugh drilled a triple but a terrible moving screen call on Zed Key was whistled much to the ire of the home crowd and Coach Chris Holtmann. Rutgers grabbed the lead with two on their end, but a Key half hook from the left block re-tied the score. A Rutgers score was followed by Thornton splitting a pair of freebies with 56 seconds to play and Rutgers up a point. A missed three and a scramble for the loose ball and Thornton went on the floor and corralled it and got a timeout called and the Buckeyes had possession with 23.7 seconds to play, trailing 63-62. Sensabaugh went to the bucket but it was blocked by Omoruyi and Ohio State quickly fouled with just over 7 seconds to play. Rutgers drilled both and Thornton was fouled in the back court. He made both to cut the deficit to one and the Buckeyes fouled, sending Rutgers back to the line where they split the pair. The Buckeyes raced up the floor and Thornton tight roped the sideline and kicked to Tanner Holden who drilled a long three at the horn to win it for the Buckeyes.

A victory from the jaws of defeat! How great is college basketball? Of course it’s always better on the winning end of the buzzer beaters and Buckeye fans know all too well how it feels on the other end, losing a couple a year ago in that fashion. Playing without Ice Likekele, who is out attending to a family, personal matter, Ohio State certainly missed his toughness especially defensively in the paint. That was exploited in the second half and Rutgers went to work and ended up out-scoring Ohio State in the painted area 38-28, mostly in the second twenty minutes. Ohio State’s bench only scored 6 points, which was unusual as the Buckeyes rank among the top 25 in college basketball in that statistic. Much of that was due to Brice Sensabaugh, who usually scores off the bench, but was forced into the starting lineup due to Likekele’s absence, yet the biggest 3 of those bench points came on the Holden shot at the buzzer. This can be a momentum changer for a season. To open conference play with a home loss would have been tough, but a win changes the entire outlook going forward. They will venture out of conference for the remainder of 2022 before getting back to Big Ten play on New Year’s Day at Northwestern.

Ohio State won’t hit the floor again for competition until a week from Saturday, hitting the road to play in Madison Square Garden in New York City for the annual CBS Sports Classic, facing North Carolina at 3 PM and airing on CBS.

Photo Credit: 247 Sports

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