Ohio State is moving on to the second round of the NCAA Tournament.
The No. 5 seed Buckeyes won their first NCAA Tournament game since 2015 on Thursday at Taco Bell Arena in Boise, Idaho, defeating No. 12 seed South Dakota State in a back-and-forth shootout, 81-73, to set up a PK80 Invitational rematch with Gonzaga in Boise on Saturday.
Keita Bates-Diop had 24 points, Kam Williams had 22 and C.J. Jackson scored 20 to lead the way for the Buckeyes.
|#12 SOUTH DAKOTA STATE||43||30||73|
|#5 OHIO STATE||43||38||81|
South Dakota State’s star, Mike Daum, led the Jackrabbits with 27 points in defeat.
The game was a back-and-forth affair throughout the first half, as each team finished the first 20 minutes with 43 points and nine made three-pointers, as Bates-Diop and Daum each scored 17 before the break.
A 16-0 run for Ohio State early in the second half gave the Buckeyes a 61-48 lead with just over 12 minutes to play. Over the next 10-plus minutes of game action, however, the Buckeyes scored just nine points, and a 10-0 run by South Dakota State tied the game at 70-70 with less than two minutes to play.
Williams led the Buckeyes to victory down the stretch, however, drawing fouls on back-to-back 3-point attempts – making the first shot despite the foul, and making all four of his free throws – to put the Buckeyes back ahead by seven.
Andrew Dakich and Bates-Diop each made a pair of free throws to score Ohio State’s final four points as the Buckeyes won by eight, covering the Vegas spread of 7.5 by a half-point.
While South Dakota State made a serious late push for an upset, the Buckeyes rallied and found a way to win – as they have so many times in Chris Holtmann's first season as coach – and Holtmann had a strong message for those who doubted his team in his postgame interview with TNT.
Chris Holtmann: I just want to thank all of the fine, clever, smart journalists who didn't pick us.— Eleven Warriors (@11W) March 15, 2018
Ohio State attempted a whopping 40 3-point shots in Thursday’s game, in which the Buckeyes went with a small-ball lineup for most of the night. Kaleb Wesson, the Buckeyes’ starting center, was only on the floor for seven minutes.
|OHIO STATE||STAT||SOUTH DAKOTA STATE|
|27-72 (37.5%)||FGM-FGA (PCT.)||24-63 (38.1%)|
|12-40 (30.0%)||3PM-3PA (PCT.)||13-31 (41.9%)|
|15-19 (78.9%)||FTM-FTA (PCT.)||12-14 (85.7%)|
The Buckeyes only made 12 of those three 3-point shots, while South Dakota State made 13 threes on 31 attempts, but Ohio State out-rebounded the Jackrabbits 47 to 39 while taking advantage of fast-break opportunities, scoring 18 points on the break while SDSU had only two.
Bates-Diop added 12 rebounds to his 24 points for his 13th double-double of the year, while Jackson had nine rebounds and a team-high five assists. Williams added five rebounds and three steals. Jae'Sean Tate had eight points and seven rebounds, but played only 21 minutes as he battled foul trouble throughout the game, ultimately fouling out.
With Tate and Kaleb Wesson spending so much time on the bench, Dakich and Andre Wesson each played 28 minutes off the bench in Thursday's game. Dakich had five points, four rebounds, three assists and three steals while Wesson had two points, three rebounds, one assist, one steal and one block.
South Dakota State had four double-digit scorers in Thursday's game – David Jenkins and Brandon Key each had 16, while Reed Tellinghuisen had 10 – but Tevin King, with four points, was the only other Jackrabbit to put the ball through the basket.
With Thursday's win, the Buckeyes will now prepare to play No. 4 seed Gonzaga, looking to turn the tables on the Bulldogs, who beat Ohio State in an 86-59 rout on Nov. 23.
Tip time for Saturday's game has not yet been announced.