Buckeyes Use Huge 2nd Half Spurt to Defeat Minnesota

By Kyle Rowland on February 22, 2014 at 7:47p
42 Comments

COLUMBUS, Ohio – It's not how you start; it's how you finish.

That’s what athletes have been told for decades. The old maxim proved true Saturday night at Value City Arena – and could serve as a microcosm for the 2013-14 Ohio State season.

  1 2 F
MINNESOTA 28 18 46
#24 OHIO STATE 18 46 64

The Buckeyes didn’t score until four minutes had passed by Saturday night. By then, Minnesota had built a 7-0 en route to a 12-point second-half advantage. But Ohio State scored 17 straight points in a decisive 27-5 run that put the Golden Gophers in the rear-view mirror.

Sam Thompson scored 10 consecutive points during the spurt on the way to a season-high 19, including 16 after the break, to pace the Buckeyes in a 64-46 victory. Lenzelle Smith Jr. tallied 13 points and six rebounds, Shannon Scott scored 10 points and Aaron Craft recorded six points, six rebounds, five assists and four steals.

Credit Ohio State head coach Thad Matta with an impassioned halftime speech.

“In essence, I just said, ‘There’s nothing I can draw up on the board or talk about until we play better basketball,’” Matta said. “We didn’t have what we needed and we weren’t attacking. The bottom line, I said, ‘You have to play better.’”

Minnesota went through an almost 14-minute stretch in the second half in which they made just 3 of 14 shots and turned the ball over seven times. The Buckeyes scored 34 points in the paint, 17 points off turnovers and 17 second-chance points.

Player MIN REB AST STL BLK TO PTS
WILLIAMS 27 4 1 1 4 2 7
ROSS 34 6 2 1 1 1 9
THOMPSON 27 4 0 0 0 2 19
CRAFT 34 6 5 4 0 2 6
SMITH 29 6 1 0 0 1 13

“They were getting out on the break, we lost them in the zone a couple times,” Minnesota head coach Richard Pitino said. “Too many turnovers led to easy buckets.”

The Gophers shot 17-of-48 from the field for the game.

Ohio State outscored Minnesota 46-18 in the second half, shooting a stout 56.7 percent. The Gophers never got closer than eight once the Buckeyes grabbed the lead.

“Obviously, great first half, awful second half,” Pitino said. “We continue to do things that don’t allow us to win. We had nine turnovers in the second half, and they made us pay on every single on of them.”

The defeat serves as a crippling blow to Minnesota's NCAA tournament hopes. The Gophers (17-11, 6-9 Big Ten) have lost six of their past eight games, falling to seventh place in the conference.

Ohio State (22-6, 9-6) has won six of seven games in February after losing five of six after New Year's. With two weeks remaining in the season, the Buckeyes are in a race to receive a coveted first-round bye in the Big Ten tournament. They reside in fifth place with the top four teams getting a free pass to the quarterfinals. Iowa, Wisconsin and Nebraska the chief competition.

“Defense is what this team is based on, and it’s how we win,” Ross said. “Every game here on out is a desperation game for us. The guys in the locker room know that, too. We all know what’s at stake.”

In the teams' previous meeting this season, Minnesota outrebounded Ohio State by 15. Saturday served as a role reversal, with the Buckeyes outrebounding the Gophers 35-25. Ohio State also trimmed its turnovers from 18 to 11.

Strong Finishes

Ohio State used a 46-point second half to come back from double-digit halftime hole.

The last time the Buckeyes trailed by 10 or more at the half and came back to win was Jan. 12, 2010 at No. 6 Purdue.

Evan Turner happened.

“In this league, you need to play like every game is the biggest game of your life,” Matta said. “If you’re not ready to compete, fight or execute, you’re going to be embarrassed. It’s going to be exactly the same when we play Penn State on Wednesday. We have to get ourselves ready to go.”

Ohio State missed its first five shots of the night before rattling off seven consecutive points. The Buckeyes made 6 of 22 shots in the first half and no player had more than four points. They were limited to a season-low 18 points in the first half. 

Minnesota used an 11-2 run late in the half to build a 28-18 halftime lead. The Gophers never trailed before the break.

“The first half was definitely the worst we’ve played,” Thompson said. “Coach Matta said we haven’t laid an egg all season, but we definitely did in the first half. The second half was some of the best basketball we’ve played all season.”

Thompson provided the exclamation points with an alley-oop during the Buckeyes’ second-half onslaught. It sent the 18,809 fans in attendance into a frenzy and foreshadowed what was to come.

Minnesota was going for its first season sweep of Ohio State since the 2004-05 season.

42 Comments

Comments

Seattle Linga's picture

Spank me sidewise - I did not see this 2nd half outcome at halftime. I like me some Matta halftime speech

+8 HS
Kid Gloves's picture

Agreed - they came out fighting and wouldn't accept anything less.

+4 HS
Buckeyevstheworld's picture

Turning purple got the message across.

"YOLO" = I'm about to do something extremely ignorant/stupid & I need an excuse to do it.

+1 HS
wyatt's picture

Great comeback when they needed it most. Where has Thompson been?  They'll continue to need contributions from everyone to stay competitive.

+1 HS
FROMTHE18's picture

for as bad as this team has looked at times, looking at the record with 6 losses, one could argue had the ball bounced better for them in a few of those the team could be 25-3…some times I'd swear this team had 10 losses. Gotta finish out regular season with a few more W's. Still, that first half tonight…derptastic. 

+2 HS
AndyVance's picture

I got on an airplane at the half and said "they're not on tonight, this ain't gonna end well," and then got off the plane and said "what the blankety-blank happened while I was on that airplane?" Wow, Matta musta busted out some of Coach Combs' Red Bull at intermission!

+2 HS
CALPOPPY's picture

That'll teach you to fly.

That being said, I expect you to take a flight throughout all of March...and early April.

I'm a hurtin' buckaroo.

+5 HS
AndyVance's picture

This is not a bad plan. And, as it turns out, I probably already have half of the flights necessary booked.

4thandinches's picture

The House Where Sam Slams. What a great night for him. 

I wasn't born a Buckeye but I became one as fast as I could. 

+2 HS
Crumb's picture

Slam Thompson lead the way tonight. When the guy gets around the rim things get exciting. P.S. I love the Nuthouse singing we don't give a dang for the whole state of michigan when we're playing Minnesota. It's like hearing the national anthem just makes you feel patriotic.

"The only good thing about it is winning the d*** thing" - Urban Meyer on The Game The War

+4 HS
SgtMdx's picture

Is it just me or does this team seem to play better when they're trailing at the half?

The deadliest weapon in the world is a Marine and his rifle.
Gen. John "Black Jack" Pershing, U.S. Army
 

+2 HS
4cardpoker's picture

If Sam can continue to get in this mindset offensively, he is going to be a high level NBA draft prospect in a year.  He has off the charts NBA athleticism, he just needs the mindset of a scorer.  It seemed like he finally is realizing that he can dominate on t)3 offensive end because of his athleticism.  

  Also this is the best I have seen the team execute on the fast break all year

+4 HS
4cardpoker's picture

Two other things of note:

1) Lenzelle plays like he's 6"9 under the basket on rebounds.  This cannot be understated on a team that needs rebounders

2) Amir is really becoming a force on the defensive end without fouling.  He dominated defensively today and only had 2 fouls the entire game.  He still needs work catching the ball on the offensive end, but he is getting better at finishing quickly when he does get it

 

+6 HS
IGotAWoody's picture

If this team were getting solid, consistent play from the center position, they would be unbeatable.

On the one hand, it's impressive for a guard to grab 6-10 ReBs on a regular basis, but it's a little sad that  we average about 6 ReBs/game from our centers. Slam, Q and the guards have to keep being aggressive on the boards like they were in this game.

Keep it rollin', BUCKS!!!

 - License to kill gophers (wolverines, badgers, etc) by the government of the United Nations

Knarcisi's picture

^^^ would be smart to only tune in for 2nd half of games, but will likely tune in and suffer the 1st half as usual. 

ToTheHouse's picture

Their getting the kinks n quirks n wrinkles worked out one game at a time...hopefully for a Mad Mar. Run !

+1 HS
tressel12's picture

I don't think i have ever been so upset after one half of basketball and so excited at the end of the game. It would be great if Slam Thompson could use this game as a springboard and become the second scorer on this team. He has really gained confidence in his outside shot which is obviously huge for his game as he can use then utilize the shot fake and drive to the basket.

 

Two other things I have taken away from this game.

1) I know this probably sounds like a broken record but Craft is ALL over the place defensively. It seemed like he came up with steals every other possession in the second half.

 

2) Amir has really improved in the second half of the season. He is finally using his size to his advantage both defensively and offensively. He got some great position against the Minnesota bigs on some big possessions and threw it down and was able to come up with some really key blocks to help the BUCKS keep momentum in the second half. Also credit his free throw shooting which can't be understated for a big. One thing he really needs to work on is his hands down low.

Great win for the BUCKS at home and hope this team can keep the momentum.

Because I couldn't go for three. -- Woody Hayes

+4 HS
Zimmy07's picture

What's the deal with us & the 2-3 zone?  It seemed as if it took the entire first half against Northwestern to figure out that driving and dishing mixed with getting it to Ross in the middle worked better than standing around and passing around the perimeter then letting Craft try to draw a foul by driving the lane.

This time it seems as if it took the entire first half for us to figure out that we actually knew how to fast break and hit the baseline cut.

Are we just setting people up to prep for us w/ the 2-3 zone in the tourney when we actually know how to beat it really well but are faking not knowing what to do?

Knarcisi's picture

I think Thad needs to run a full 10 minute scrimmage before the game.  We're taking way too long to bring the energy. 

+1 HS
BeijingBucks's picture

I guess they figured out the 2-3 zone that second half

and Slam... He just decided to be that secondary scoring threat inside (over?) this time around and outside last game

 

 

None can love freedom heartily, but good men; the rest love not freedom, but license. ~ John Milton

4cardpoker's picture

I would've taken Thompson against the field in the NBA dunk contest last week.  And it wouldn't have even been close....

+6 HS
Optimistic Buckeye Pessimist's picture

Best way to beat a zone.... Or a team.... Shoot 57% instead of 27%. 

Read my entire screen name....

+3 HS
Knarcisi's picture

And not let them get set into a zone. A lot of nice transition baskets. 

+2 HS
808buckeye's picture

keep killing it Sam.  Ill recommend you for my man crush Monday. Lol

seize the carpe

+1 HS
huber57's picture

LET'S GO. IT'S GIF TIME!

 

+1 HS
Ohio1St81's picture

Am I missing something here? Kyle, you posted this article at 7:47. I just read an article on Yahoo posted by "The Sports XChange" posted at 9:00 pm that is very, very similar to yours. I call bullshit. Someone is plagiarizing you. Has this happened before and I just never noticed or saw comments about it? Is this a typical thing in sports journalism? I don't want to start something if there is nothing to start, but this is fishy to me...

+2 HS
Kyle Rowland's picture

Haha, no. The guy who usually does it was under the weather and asked me to fill in at last minute. 

Ohio1St81's picture

All right good just checking. It just seemed so shady, there were a few words changed here and there and it didn't seem right. Sorry to start something out of nothing. 

+2 HS
bucknut94's picture

Wow, what a come back. What did Matta say to them at halftime? Maybe Matta can talk to the defensive backs before football games.

+1 HS
gravey's picture
My dad is richer than you...and I'll cut you off in traffic.

I think the B1G has a new "Most Punchable Face" candidate in coach RicHARD Petino.  Seriously he looks like the prick character in any number of John Hughes movies or a Wall Street cheat.   Who'da thunk anyone could challenge Crean - but this guy (and I don't yet hate him) really make my arm twitch and my fist clench.  

I think we need an 11W poll.

BUCKfutter's picture

for me, the only absolutely inexcusable losses this season are penn state and nebrasketball, both when we were at rock bottom. crazy to think that if we pull those two out, we're 11-4 in conference and a half game out of first.

the kids are playing their tail off, and the coaches are screwing it up! - JLS

+2 HS
IGotAWoody's picture

Not to mention, early on @MSU, we were down 17, rallied to tie it and were a contested (*cough* fouled) layup miss from stealing that one. We could very easily be 11-4 or 10-5 and still in position for a 2 seed in the B1G tourney. Can't wait to see how this one plays out!!

 - License to kill gophers (wolverines, badgers, etc) by the government of the United Nations

+1 HS
IGotAWoody's picture

Miles Turner... paging Miles Turner!! This team can really use you!

 - License to kill gophers (wolverines, badgers, etc) by the government of the United Nations

+1 HS
Seattle Linga's picture

Just imagine how good this class would be if he was to be added.

+1 HS
ScarletNGrey01's picture

The buckeyes were down by 10 points at the end of the first half and in the second half ended up scoring the same number of points that Minnesota scored for the entire game!  Wow, I'm still trying to wrap my head around that one.  Watching the buckeyes look like an elite offensive juggernaut in the second half was quite a rush.

The will to win is not as important as the will to prepare to win. -- Woody Hayes

+1 HS
BeijingBucks's picture

twice in that second half i found myself bursting out with a laugh with one of Slam's exclamation points.  worth every strange look i got.  I love where this team is headed as we approach march... zone defense?  I'll match that with some transition offense and some alley oop Slamness.

Was it me or for a minute there could you hear the voiceover 'He's heating up...!' followed by 'BOOMshakalaka'  NCAA Jam I give you Sam Thompson!

 

 

None can love freedom heartily, but good men; the rest love not freedom, but license. ~ John Milton

+3 HS
InvertMyVeer's picture

"He's on fire!!!"

Football is complicated...

+2 HS
yrro's picture

Was watching the kid so the wife could go to the game - I need some second half highlights! Anyone have a link?

InvertMyVeer's picture

Here's ya go, Slam Thompson highlights start about 30 seconds in

 

Football is complicated...

+2 HS
Josh P's picture

Classic 6, 6, 5, and 4 stat line from Craft.  I really wish he would impose his will on the game more often because when he puts his mind to it he is absolutely the best player on the floor.  Other times, he's just a pretty good player on the floor.  

Josh P's picture

Also, if we keep rolling like this, we're setting up for a showdown with MSU on March 9th.  And if we can pull that one out.. we're going into the postseason HOT.  

Johnny-Shane_Utah-Falco's picture

We can't afford to go in a hole on the road against PSU....I love Thad in revenge games.

Go Bucks!