As he backpedaled, E.J. Liddell's face said it all. He might've just won the game. His step-back mid-range jumper with 50 seconds remaining gave Ohio State an 85-80 lead – the biggest of the second half – with Notre Dame suddenly scrambling.
|#22 OHIO STATE||34||56||90|
Junior guard Prentiss Hubb's and-one finish over Liddell with 22 seconds remaining to cut it to a one-point deficit put the Fighting Irish a point away from tying it. But free throws from Justice Sueing and CJ Walker helped close it out to give Ohio State a 90-85 win.
The 22nd-ranked Buckeyes improved to 4-0 to remain unbeaten. Notre Dame dropped to 1-2 on the season.
|OHIO STATE||STAT||NOTRE DAME|
|29-62 (46.8%)||FGM-FGA (PCT.)||30-59 (50.8%)|
|11-23 (47.8%)||3PM-3PA (PCT.)||11-24 (45.8%)|
|21-24 (87.5%)||FTM-FTA (PCT.)||14-18 (77.8%)|
Liddell led his team with 19 points, making six of his final seven shots to help Ohio State close it out for the win. Justice Sueing (16 points), CJ Walker (16 points), Duane Washington Jr. (13 points) and Justin Ahrens (12 points) also finished in double figures.
For a few moments early in the second half, though, Ohio State appeared in danger of letting it all slip away.
An 8-1 run with 14:38 remaining sparked by back-to-back 3-pointers gave Notre Dame a game-high 55-44 lead in Tuesday evening's Big Ten/ACC Challenge, putting the Buckeyes behind by double digits for the first time this season. But Ohio State started chipping away.
An E.J. Liddell layup. A pair of Justice Sueing free throws. A Jimmy Sotos triple. After a few minutes of back-and-forth play, Ohio State finally got its first lead of the second half on a pair of CJ Walker free throws with 8:44 remaining.
Other than a 23-second period, once the Buckeyes grabbed the lead they either had the edge or were tied the remainder of the game.
Buoyed by uncharacteristically hot outside shooting, Ohio State stayed within striking distance – and even led for 1:47 – throughout the first half. The Buckeyes made six triples in the opening 14 minutes of the game. To put that into context, they made six 3s against Illinois State the entire game, four 3s in all 40 minutes against Morehead State and needed 35 minutes to make six 3s against Morehead State. Justin Ahrens made his first three shots from behind the arc to help spark his team.
Yet as their 3-point shooting dried up, with only of their final five of the half going through the net, the Fighting Irish grabbed a larger foothold of the lead. Notre Dame ended the half on an 8-0 run, which included an and-one transition dunk that immediately followed a Duane Washington Jr. turnover when the junior guard unsuccessfully attempted to go behind his back between two players at the top of the arc.
Ohio State went scoreless in the last three minutes of the half and the deficit grew early in the second half before it closed in the latter half of the half.
Next up: Ohio State goes back to the Schottenstein Center to face Cleveland State at 4 p.m. Sunday.
- Seth Towns (knee) was the only Buckeye unavailable to play on Tuesday night. Chris Holtmann says he's evaluating when Towns will debut on a day-to-day and week-by-week basis.
- This was the first high-major opponent for Ohio State of the season. It follows three victories against low-major teams – Illinois State, UMass Lowell and Morehead State – and precedes the final game currently on the schedule against a low-major opponent.
- Ohio State entered the day with an 8-5 all-time record against Notre Dame, but it was the Buckeyes' first-ever game at Purcell Pavilion in 48 years.
- The Buckeyes came into the day with a 7-11 record in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge, which it began participating in in 2002.
- While the Buckeyes don't allow spectators in their arena, Notre Dame allows a limited number of families and friends into the building, so several parents of Ohio State's players were in attendance. Holtmann's wife and daughter were also shown on television in South Bend.