Ohio State's up-and-down transitional season officially came to an end Sunday with a second-round NIT loss to Florida, 74-66, at Value City Arena. After closing the first half strong, the Buckeyes were bulldozed to begin the second half and couldn't recover. The Gators started the second 20 minutes on a 14-2 run and then cruised the rest of the way for a victory.
Leading the way for the Gators was Dorian Finney-Smith, who scored a team-high 16 points. Kasey Hill (15 points) Kevarrius Hayes (14) and Justin Leon (12) were also in double-figures for Florida. For Ohio State, Marc Loving scored a game-high 20 points, JaQuan Lyle had a double-double with 19 points and 11 rebounds and Daniel Giddens tied a career-high with 11 points.
Neither team shot the ball particularly well, but the Gators were much more effective defensively. Florida finished the game shooting 45 percent, while Ohio State shot only 39 percent from the floor. The Gators did hold a 43-35 edge on the glass and scored 13 second-chance points.
The Buckeyes got within seven after a pair of free throws from A.J. Harris with 4 minutes, 34 seconds to play, but Florida responded with a 3-pointer by Hill that seized all momentum. Ohio State again trimmed the deficit to seven with 1:57 to play, but a Finney-Smith triple on the next possession all but sealed things.
|23-59 (39)||FGM-FGA (PCT.)||29-64 (45)|
|6-22 (27)||3PM-3PA (PCT.)||6-19 (31)|
|14-16 (87)||FTM-FTA (PCT.)||10-16 (62)|
It looked like it may be a long afternoon for Ohio State as Florida scored the game's first nine points before Thad Matta called timeout to get his team settled. The Gators led by as many as 12 in the first half at 16-4, but the Buckeyes ended the opening 20 minutes on a 9-0 run to get within 31-30 at halftime. Kam Williams scored a pair of layups in that stretch, Lyle knocked in a 3-pointer and Loving's basket inside trimmed Ohio State's deficit to just one.
After connecting on 2 of its first 3 attempts from behind the 3-point line in the first half, Florida cooled off and finished the half 3-of-11 from downtown. Ohio State matched that effort and shot 42 percent from the field in the first half.
Loving led the way with 12 first-half points, Lyle had nine points and six rebounds and Williams scored seven first-half points in place of Keita Bates-Diop, who missed his second-straight game due to illness.