Ohio State Drops 3rd Straight, Shocked at Home by Minnesota
Ohio State’s slide now sits at 3, dropping quite possibly the worst regular season loss in the Chris Holtmann era, falling to the hapless Gophers 70-67 to fall to 10-6 and 2-3. Minnesota improved to 7-8 and earned their first conference win to move to 1-4. Brice Sensabaugh led Ohio State with 18 points and 10 rebounds, while Justice Sueing added 13 and Sean McNeil chipped in 11. Bruce Thornton and Zed Key each added 10 in the Buckeye loss. Dawson Garcia led Minnesota with a career high tying 28. The Gophers, one of the worst shooting teams in the Big Ten, hit 50% of their shots, while Ohio State shot just 38%.
After Ohio State scored the first bucket of the game on a Justice Sueing up and under, the Golden Gophers scored 11 of the next 15 to grab a 11-6 lead, forcing Chris Holtmann to call a timeout with 14:21 to play in the first half. The Buckeyes missed 8 of their first 10 shots, while the Gophers knocked down 5 of 10 to take the early lead. Zed Key, back on the floor for the first time since the early minutes of the Purdue game, cut into the lead with a jump hook from the left block and after a Gopher triple, Bruce Thornton came off a Key screen to hit a pull up jumper. A 5-0 Minnesota run got stopped when Thornton got to the rim off the bounce and scored off the window and at the under 12 media timeout, Minnesota led 19-12. Sean McNeil drilled a three from the left corner, after a pump fake gave him a little space, to get the Buckeyes closer. After a Minnesota bucket, the Gophers turned it over on their next possession and in transition, Ice Likekele found Tanner Holden at the rim for a dunk and the foul put him at the stripe where he completed the old-fashioned three point play to cut the deficit to three. Four straight Gopher points and a free throw pending out of the under 8 put Minnesota ahead 25-18 with 7:35 left in the first half. The free throw dropped out of the timeout and the Gophers led by 8, but a Sensabaugh triple on the other end answered and cut the lead back to 5. A 5-2 Gopher run increased the lead back to 8 before Sensabaugh curled into the lane and hit a 12 foot fade. A pair of Seuing freebies got Ohio State to within 4, and after a Gopher bucket, Key tipped in a Roddy Gayle miss. The Buckeyes defense forced Minnesota into a shot clock violation right before the final media timeout with Minnesota clinging to a 33-29 lead. The Gophers extended the lead with a bucket at the rim, but a long Sean McNeil three cut the lead to three before Minnesota took a timeout with 1:31 to play in the first half. After an empty Gopher possession, McNeil was fouled attempting a three and he bagged all three to tie the game. A Gopher jumper broke the tie and after a pair of Ohio State shot attempts at the end of the half failed to drop, the teams went to the locker room with Minnesota leading Ohio State 37-35 after 20 minutes. The halftime deficit can be directly pointed to Ohio State’s porous half court defense for much of the half, allowing the Gophers to shoot 56% from the floor, and hitting only 35% themselves, despite many good looks near the rim, falling off target. However, despite trailing by as many as 8 late in the half, they closed to tie it and only trailed by 2 at the break. Sean McNeil paced Ohio State with 9 first half points, while Brice Sensabaugh added 7 and 6 rebounds. Zed Key added 6 and 6 and Justice Sueing also scored 6. Dawson Garcia led all scorers with 12 for Minnesota.
The 2nd half opened with a three each way, the Buckeyes three coming from Thornton at the top. Sueing split a pair of free throws to get Ohio State within one, but a Minnesota jumper put the Gophers back up 3. Key got Ohio State closer with a jump hook in the lane, but a 4-0 Gopher run created a little separation before Thornton buried a 3 from the left wing and at the under 16, Minnesota led 46-44. The Buckeyes tied the score out of the timeout when Sueing got into the lane, but the Gophers answered with a deuce. Ohio State re-tied it when Gene Brown took an offensive rebound back up for two. Minnesota continued to answer, but when Sensabaugh grabbed his own miss and scored off the glass and knocked down the ensuing free throw to complete the and-one, Ohio State led for the first time since they led 2-0 in the early moments. The Gophers took a timeout with 13:03 to go and the Buckeyes led 51-50. The Gophers regained the lead, going on a 7-0 run forcing Chris Holtmann to call timeout with 10:38 to play and now trailing 57-51. A Gopher triple upped the run to 10-0 and the lead to 9 and at the under 8 media timeout, Minnesota led 60-51. Key stopped the run with a jump hook mid-paint, but four in a row for Minnesota upped the Gopher lead to 11. Sensabugh’s old-fashioned three point play cut the lead to 64-56 as Ohio State took a timeout. Both teams went scoreless prior to the final media timeout as time was running out on Ohio State. A Sueing hoop in the paint cut the lead to six and a McNeil runner cut the deficit to four. After Minnesota split a pair of free throws, Ohio State turned it over, giving the ball back to Minnesota with time running low. A Gopher miss gave the ball back to Ohio State. A blocked Sensabaugh shot on the Buckeyes end and the Buckeyes started playing the foul game. The Gophers split the pair to go up 6, but a Sueing tip-in of his own miss cut the lead to 4, but with just 41 seconds to go. Ohio State sent Minnesota back to the stripe, where they split another pair and Sensabaugh drilled a three from the left corner to get Ohio State within two. Back at the stripe, Minnesota missed the front end and a foul on Minnesota with 8 seconds to play put Sensabaugh to the line, where he drilled both to tie the game with 8 seconds to go and Minnesota took a timeout. The Gophers took it to the rim where a ridiculous foul call on Bruce Thornton was called that was clearly a clean block, but nevertheless it sent Minnesota to the line with 1 second to play where the second of two dropped. After an Ohio State turnover, two more Minnesota free throws dropped but it was all a formality as Minnesota stole one from Ohio State thanks to one of the worst and most blatantly horrible calls I’ve ever seen.
In what may go down as the worst officiating call in recent memory, a game that looked like it was heading to overtime with all the momentum favoring the Buckeyes, the game was stolen from Ohio State thanks to horrendous officiating. To be fair, they should have never made it that close to a bad Minnesota basketball team but they battled back and outscored the Gophers 14-3 to tie it late before seeing the game stolen due to a referee call. Despite not playing their best basketball, it was a winnable game and unfortunately fell short due to an officiating call. What a shame. I have nothing else. It won’t get easier as they head on the road Sunday to face Rutgers.
Ohio State takes the floor again on Sunday afternoon at 2:15, playing at Rutgers in a game airing on BTN.