Five Things: What We Learned From Ohio State's 78-63 Win Over Minnesota

By Tim Shoemaker on December 30, 2015 at 9:48 pm
Daniel Giddens shows off his wingspan.

Ohio State knocked off Minnesota, 78-63, on Wednesday night in each team's Big Ten opener. It was the fifth-straight win for Thad Matta's crew.

The Buckeyes put three players in double figures, led by Marc Loving's 20 points. Keita Bates-Diop added 13 while Jae'Sean Tate finished with 10. Leading 45-44, Ohio State used a 23-5 run midway through the second half to pull away for the win.

Here are five things we saw in the Buckeyes' fifth win in a row.

Helping Hands

Ohio State dished out a season-best 24 assists against the Gophers on 29 made field goals. Leading that charge? The Buckeyes' pair of freshman point guards JaQuan Lyle and A.J. Harris.

Lyle dished out a career-high 13 assists and committed just one turnover as he was in control of his game and the team from the get-go. When he wasn't on the floor, though, Harris was equally as effective, dropping four dimes himself.

Starting Strong

After the upset win over Kentucky, the Buckeyes hadn't gotten off to blazing starts in their games. That wasn't the case Wednesday night against Minnesota.

Ohio State scored the game's first 11 points to put the Gophers in an early hole, and led by as many as 15 in the first half before a Minnesota run made it a three-point game at halftime.

Second-Half Spurt

As mentioned above, Ohio State's 23-5 second-half run was the difference in the game. During that span, the Buckeyes had six different scorers. Marc Loving had six points in that stretch, Kam Williams had five and Trevor Thompson and David Bell each had four.

Loving's 3-pointer from the wing with six minutes to play put Ohio State ahead, 68-49. The 19-point edge was the Buckeyes' largest lead of the game.

Strong Inside

Ohio State's two big guys — Thompson and Daniel Giddens — battled foul trouble throughout much of the evening, but Ohio State still dominated in the paint. 

Thompson finished with six points and six rebounds; Giddens had nine points and four boards; and while both were saddled with foul trouble, Bell gave the Buckeyes some good minutes with four points and a pair of rebounds.

Ohio State outscored Minnesota 42-26 in the paint and had a 43-35 advantage on the glass.

Lull in the Action

It wasn't perfect for Ohio State, though, as the Buckeyes did allow Minnesota to close the first half on a 10-1 run and trim the halftime deficit to three at 37-34.

The Gophers scored the first five points of the second half and took their only lead of the game after a pair of free throws put them ahead 39-37 with 18 minutes, 58 seconds to play.

Going forward, Ohio State must try and find a way to maintain a lead throughout the game when it gets one early.

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