Marcus Carr picked up his dribble. Twelve seconds remained in the first half, and the senior guard faked a pass once to his left before letting it go a second later. The ball had barely left his fingertips when Musa Jallow swatted it into the backcourt with his outstretched right hand. Jallow, a fourth-year wing, sprinted down the court in chase, secured it with his right hand, took one dribble and rose off his left foot for a two-handed jam with time in the first half about to expire.
|#5 OHIO STATE||39||40||79|
In a sense, that one play to give Ohio State a 39-27 lead entering halftime was a metaphor for the entire game. Minnesota hung around and had its chances to pull something off in both halves, yet it simply couldn't string together enough positive possessions on each end of the court to get over the hump.
The fifth-seeded Buckeyes won their first game in three weeks, topping the 13th-seeded Golden Gophers, 79-75, in the second round of the Big Ten tournament on Thursday afternoon. They advance to the quarterfinals where they'll meet fourth-seeded Purdue at 2 p.m. Friday in Indianapolis' Lucas Oil Stadium.
The Buckeyes led the entire game, even though they went from a 12-point led with 1:38 left to a one-point edge with 8.9 seconds left when Marcus Carr drilled a 3. E.J. Liddell subsequently knocked down a pair of foul shots, and Carr then hit one of two free throws to make it a two-point game with 6.8 ticks remaining. Duane Washington Jr. closed it out with a pair of made foul shots.
Much like the impending game against the Boilermakers, Thursday's showdown was a chance for Ohio State to avenge a previous loss. The Buckeyes fell, 77-60, in Williams Arena on Jan. 3, but they got payback in the conference tournament.
Shooting 50 percent from the floor and getting 44 points in the paint, Ohio State was the more efficient offensive team all day. Four Buckeyes finished in double-figures – Washington, Justice Sueing, E.J. Liddell and CJ Walker – and Jallow added eight points, two steals and two blocks off the bench. Washington and Sueing led the way with 16 points apiece
Minnesota, playing without starters Liam Robbins and Gabe Kalscheur, didn't do much of anything to scare the Buckeyes – until late. It shot 36.4 percent from the field and made 8-of-32 3s.
|28-56 (50.0%)||FGM-FGA (PCT.)||28-77 (36.4%)|
|4-12 (33.3%)||3PM-3PA (PCT.)||8-32 (25.0%)|
|19-28 (67.9%)||FTM-FTA (PCT.)||11-17 (64.7%)|
From the rip, Ohio State took it to the Golden Gophers who were unable to score a single point until nearly seven full minutes had passed. By that point, the Buckeyes were up, 13-0, and rolling with three dunks before Both Gach ended Minnesota's drought by getting by Zed Key into the paint for a bucket.
A turnover-laden middle-of-the-first half sequence kept the Buckeyes from pulling away. They went scoreless for four and a half minutes after going up by 13 and took nearly six minutes between made field goals, yet the Golden Gophers' lackluster offense allowed them to never see their lead dwindle below four points.
A 15-7 Buckeye run to end the first half allowed them to hang onto a 12-point edge at the break.
Next up: Ohio State meets fourth-seeded Purdue on Thursday. The game in Indianapolis' Lucas Oil Stadium will tip off at approximately 2 p.m. on Big Ten Network.
- Chris Holtmann returned to a starting five he used for the majority of January and February before plugging CJ Walker into the lineup to end the regular season. On Thursday, he opened with Duane Washington Jr., Justin Ahrens, Justice Sueing, Kyle Young and E.J. Liddell.
- Ohio State has the most All-tournament selections of any Big Ten team. It'll look to add to that this season.
- Holtmann is now 3-3 against the Golden Gophers as Ohio State's coach.