Sensabaugh’s Near Triple Double Leads Ohio State Past Maine

Ohio State returned home off a tough overtime loss to North Carolina and bounced back in a big way, trailing only briefly early, before running away from visiting Maine and cruising to a 95-61 win to move to 8-3. The loss dropped the Black Bears to 6-6. Brice Sensabaugh filled the stat sheet, leading 5 Buckeyes in double figures, scoring 19, pulling down 7 rebounds and dishing out 7 assists. Justice Sueing added 15 and 6 rebounds, while Zed Key added 15 and 6. Bruce Thornton added 11 points, 6 rebounds and 5 assists and Felix Okpara chipped in 10. The Buckeyes dominated the game in every way, shooting 61% on the night, while holding Maine to just 39% and outrebounded the Black Bears 39-27. Ohio State forced 13 Maine turnovers, while only turning it over 7 times themselves, leading to a 21-7 advantage in points off turnovers. Ohio State also dominated the painted area, utilizing their rebounding advantage to outscore the Black Bears 64-28 inside. 

The Buckeyes raced out to an early lead, scoring the first five of the game on a Bruce Thornton triple and a Justice Sueing score off the bounce before back-to-back Maine triples put the Black Bears in front. Ohio State answered, scoring the next 7, five from Zed Key, to take a 12-6 lead into the first media timeout. The run upped to 8 when Key split a pair of free throws, but a Maine bucket on the other end stopped the Buckeye burst. The Buckeyes kept coming and increased the lead to 22-13 with 13:30 to play in the first half and Maine took a timeout as Ohio State had scored three straight buckets on dunks in the halfcourt. After a Maine bucket, Tanner Holden grabbed an offensive rebound and scored and at the under 12 timeout, Ohio State led 24-15. The Buckeyes proceeded to go on a 10-3 run and 8 in a row, the first six by Felix Okpara and the final four by Brice Sensabaugh and at the under 8 media timeout, Ohio State had opened up a 34-18 lead. The run went to 14 straight when Roddy Gayle split the Maine zone off the dribble and got to the rim for a lay in. Sueing extended the run going coast to coast for a lay-in off a Maine miss and then on the ensuing possession, came up with a steal and score. Maine ended the run and started one of their own, scoring the next 6 before Sean McNeil buried a long triple from the left point. Another Black Bear deuce cut into the Buckeye lead and at the final media timeout and with 1:39 to play in the first half, Ohio State led Maine 43-26. Ohio State scored the final four of the half on a Okpara dunk and a Thornton pull up 15 foot jumper and at the half, Ohio State led Maine 47-26. The Buckeyes hit on 55% of their shot attempts, 14 of which were layups and dunks, while holding the Black Bears to just 34% and a 25-13 rebounding edge led to a monster 36-10 Buckeye advantage on points in the paint. Zed Key led Ohio State with 10 in the first half, while Brice Sensabaugh added 9 and Justice Sueing and Felix Okpara scored 8 each. Gedi Juozapaitis led Maine with 10 in the first half. 

The Buckeyes opened the second half with a 7-0 run. A Key bucket followed by 5 from Sensabaugh opened up the lead to 28. Maine outscored the Buckeyes 10-6 over the next several minutes to cut the lead to 60-36 at the under 16 media timeout. Out of the timeout, a Black Bear free throw completed an old-fashioned three point play, but a short Thornton jumper mid lane answered. A Black Bear triple cut the lead to 22 but facing a Maine zone, Sean McNeil drilled a long three from the right point. A Maine bucket was followed by Sueing dribbling into the lane and finding Holden slashing to the bucket, who scored off the window which was the final score before the under 12 media timeout with Ohio State cruising, leading 67-42. A Maine triple cut into the lead but on the Buckeye possession, Thornton lobbed to Okpara cutting down the lane, who flushed it home to answer. The Black Bears came right back, completing an old fashioned three point play, but Sensabaugh put it on the deck and elevated in the lane for a score. The Black Bears scored four of the next six, with the Buckeyes two coming from a pair of Key free throws and at the under 8 minute timeout, Ohio State led Maine 73-52. Out of the timeout, Sensabaugh found Sueing streaking along the left baseline who scored while being fouled with a reverse lay-in. He knocked down the free throw to complete the old-fashioned three point play and after a shot clock violation on the other end, Thornton got a short jumper to fall. After a pair of Black Bear misses, Ohio State got out in transition on both occasions with Sueing scoring mid paint on the first and Sueing flipped the ball cross court on the next opportunity and found Sensabaugh in the corner who drilled a triple forcing Maine to call timeout with 4:52 to play and Ohio State on a 10-0 run, opening up a 83-52 lead. The run went to 12-0 before the final media timeout as Sensabaugh found Gayle under the rim, who flushed it home for two and the Buckeyes were rolling. A 5-0 Maine run got stopped when Bowen Hardman drilled a three from the left point. Gayle scored on Ohio State’s next possession, getting to the rim off the bounce. After a Maine two, Kalen Etzler scored at the rim and after a Maine miss, Hardman buried another three. Two Maine freebies completed the scoring as Ohio State remained unbeaten at home. 

It was far from a clean game for the Buckeyes and even in a blowout there are things coaches can take from it. Tonight the focus clearly had to be the lack of intensity on defense early in the second half. The Buckeyes allowed the Black Bears to shoot it at a 44% clip in the second twenty minutes, but that number stood at over 61% midway through the half, before Ohio State adjusted and locked down in the halfcourt the rest of the way. There were plenty of positives to take away, specifically how well Ohio State shared the basketball as a group, assisting on 23 of 41 made field goals.. They also did a good job valuing the basketball, turning it over only 7 times for the game. This certainly wasn’t one of the better defensive teams Ohio State will or has seen, but it’s still a positive that a young group will take, especially in the absence of Ice Likekele, who is still out dealing with personal, family issues. Additionally, the continued development of the young players, namely Brice Sensabaugh, who is turning into a superstar in front of our eyes, along with Bruce Thornton who is quickly becoming one of the best young point guards in college basketball, along with the length on the defensive end of Roddy Gayle and the emergence of Felix Okpara, the Buckeyes boast some of the best young players in the conference. In addition to the youth, the veterans, Justice Sueing, Sean McNeil and Zed Key continue to get better and impact the game on both ends. Zed Key in fact, ranks among the top 20 players nationally in offensive rebounding. Ohio State will certainly continue to improve and should make some noise in the Big Ten race. For now, however, the Buckeyes will enjoy this one tonight and take a little break for Christmas before playing one more mid-major to finish the calendar year before readying themselves for the grind of the Big Ten season that starts on January 1 at Northwestern.

Ohio State will take a break and head home for Christmas for a few days before returning to prepare for their final contest of 2022, hosting Alabama A&M in the Schott a week from tomorrow. Tip time is scheduled for 3PM and airing on BTN.

-Jason Harris

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