Meechie Johnson Game-Winner Lifts Ohio State to 79-76 Win Over Seton Hall

By Griffin Strom on November 22, 2021 at 8:19 pm

In their second crack at a Big East opponent away from their home floor in the past five days, the Buckeyes found redemption in Florida on Monday.

After suffering its first defeat of the season against Xavier last Thursday and subsequently dropping out of the AP Top 25, Ohio State came back with a win over 21st-ranked Seton Hall that required some late-game heroics from a freshman at Suncoast Credit Union Arena in the Fort Myers Tip-Off.

Team 1 2 FINAL
OHIO STATE 40 39 79
#21 SETON HALL 35 41 76

Seton Hall trailed 40-35 at halftime, and despite trailing by as many as 11 in the second half, the Pirates tied the game on a transition layup after a steal with 14 seconds left. But Buckeye guard Meechie Johnson responded with a deep 3-pointer on the other end with just 2.3 seconds left on the clock.

Seton Hall could not tie things back up on the final shot of the game, and Johnson's shot turned out to be the game-winner for the Buckeyes. It was just the second field goal of the game for Johnson, who finished with eight points off the bench.

Seton Hall guard Jared Rhoden led all scorers with 29 points, and was crucial to the second-half comeback as he poured in 13 in the final 20 minutes to help bring the Pirates back. But E.J. Liddell scored 12 points of his own in the second half, including hitting 8-for-8 from the free throw line in the final period, to help power Ohio State to victory during a 28-point effort.

Neither team could miss a shot early on. Both sides combined to hit 14 of their first 21 shots from the floor, and the teams went shot for shot through the first 10 minutes of the contest. Seton Hall was a step ahead for most of that stretch, holding its largest lead of the half at 24-19 with 9:04 to play in the opening period, but opened the door for a Buckeye run with a cold spell thereafter.

The Buckeyes proceeded to embark on a 19-4 run over the next 6:38 of game time, hitting three 3-pointers in that stretch to take an eventual 38-28 lead – their biggest of the half with 3:12 to go in the first 20 minutes.

79 POINTS 76
23-48 (47.9%) FGM-FGA (PCT.) 24-63 (38.1%)
11-22 (50%) 3PM-3PA (PCT.) 5-23 (21.7%)
22-25 (88%) FTM-FTA (PCT.) 23-27 (85.2%)

The Pirates countered with a quick run of their own to close the gap before halftime, as Seton Hall scored seven of the final nine points down the stretch of the first half to head to the locker room down 40-35 to the Buckeyes.

E.J. Liddell was vital to Ohio State’s first half lead, exploding for 16 points on 6-of-11 shooting, and Justin Ahrens tied his season-high scoring output with 11 points of his own in the opening 20 minutes. Ahrens went 3-for-3 from the 3-point line, as the Buckeyes collectively hit 50 percent from the floor and 50 percent from beyond the arc in the first half.

It was the same pair that started the scoring off for the Buckeyes in the second half, as Ahrens hit his fourth straight 3-pointer in a row in the first minute of the final period, and Liddell followed suit with the next four points for Ohio State to put the Buckeyes back up by nine. Kyle Young got in on the action less than two minutes later, hitting a 3-pointer to give Ohio State a game-high 11-point lead, 52-51.

However, the Pirates clawed their way back into it with a 8-0 run seven minutes later. The Buckeyes missed four straight field goals to open things up for Seton Hall, and a pair of free throws following a technical foul call on Chris Holtmann allowed the Pirates to cut the Ohio State advantage down to two points with 7:52 to play.

Pirates forward Tray Jackson made it a one-point game with a pair of free throws at the 2:22 mark, and Seton Hall trailed just 73-72 in the waning minutes. The Pirates tied things up in the final 15 seconds, but the aforementioned three from Johnson closed the show for the Buckeyes as the Pirates missed the final shot.

Ahrens was second only to Liddell with 17 points on the night, and Young was the third Buckeye to hit double digits as he finished with 12 points.

What’s next: Ohio State moves on to play Florida, which defeated California at the Suncoast Credit Union Arena Monday, on Wednesday at 8:30 p.m.

Other Notes

  • The Buckeyes will be without Eugene Brown for both games in Florida this week, as the sophomore guard suffered an injury in the second half against Xavier and is going through concussion protocol in Columbus.
  • First-year Ohio State assistant coach Tony Skinn spent the past three years on Kevin Willard’s staff at Seton Hall.
  • FIfth-year senior forward Justice Sueing missed his third straight game for Ohio State Monday, as the Buckeye captain continues to deal with an abdominal injury that is expected to keep him out for an extended period of time.
  • Indiana transfer Joey Brunk made the first start of his Ohio State career Monday, starting alongside Jamari Wheeler, Malaki Branham, Justin Ahrens and E.J. Liddell.
  • Ohio State entered the matchup 3-2 all-time against Seton Hall. The last game in the series prior to Monday took place in 2003.
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