Back-to-back 3-pointers from Ron Harper Jr. put Rutgers ahead by 16.
With 15:38 remaining in Wednesday's game at the Schottenstein Center and things sliding in the wrong direction, Ohio State appeared to be in danger of losing its second Big Ten game in a row to begin conference play. Then came three 3-pointers in two minutes from Duane Washington Jr., a pair of buckets from Seth Towns and E.J. Liddell getting almost everything he wanted down low.
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By the eight-minute mark, Ohio State had cut the deficit to four points, and a Washington floater with 4:54 remaining tied it up at 61 points apiece. Dealing with a depleted frontcourt due to an injury and foul trouble, Rutgers had few answers for the Buckeyes inside who pulled ahead for an 80-68 victory.
Ohio State ended the game on a 25-6 run to improve to 7-1 on the season and 1-1 in Big Ten play. Rutgers dropped to 5-1, losing its first game this year.
Liddell, the key to the victory, dropped a career-high 21 points while hitting eight-of-14 shots from the floor. He grabbed six boards, too. With him and Kyle Young – a career-high 17 points and 12 rebounds – on the inside, Ohio State did a good portion of its damage down low. Washington's three second-half 3s, however, paid dividends down the stretch. The junior guard managed a career-high 22 points by hitting four 3s and going 6-for-7 from the foul line.
Ohio State outscored Rutgers, 52-30, in the second half.
Harper, who entered the day ranked second in the Big Ten with 24 points per game, led the Scarlet Knights with 20 points. His team shot 41 percent from the field compared to Ohio State's 47 percent shooting.
Shortly after tip-off, the Buckeyes pulled out to a 5-0 lead with a triple from Washington and a layup through contact by Young. That, however, was the largest Ohio State lead of the opening half.
Just a little more than four minutes into the game, the Scarlet Knights pulled ahead. And by the 10-minute mark, they grabbed a double-figures lead. A frontcourt of Liddell and Young scoring a combined 16 of their team's 28 points kept Ohio State within striking distance, but the disparity from behind the arc was too much for the home team. Ron Harper Jr. and Geo Baker each drained a pair of first-half 3-pointers, with Rutgers combining to go 7-of-13 from outside in the opening 20 minutes. The Buckeyes, meanwhile, went just 1-for-10 on the first-half attempts from 3.
They entered the half trailing 38-28 with the 3-point disparity standing out among everything else.
Next up: Ohio State goes to Northwestern for a road tilt on Dec. 26. The game will tip off at 2 p.m. on Fox Sports 1.
- Chris Holtmann went with his typical starting five: CJ Walker, Duane Washington Jr., Justice Sueing, E.J. Liddell and Kyle Young.
- Ibrahima Diallo (concussion) and Meechie Johnson (mid-year enrollee) did not play for the Buckeyes. Diallo's return date is uncertain, but he went through some pregame warmups. Johnson is expected to debut at some point in January after arriving on campus a couple of weeks ago.
- Ohio State plans to celebrate the holidays together, Holtmann said on Tuesday. The Buckeyes have a game the day after Christmas, but since the players can't go home to their families for the holidays, Holtmann's wife and mothers of players have put something together for them.