Ohio State handed Mike Krzyzewski the first loss of his final season Tuesday as the Buckeyes knocked off the No. 1 team in the country.
Although far from a heavy betting underdog against Duke, unranked Ohio State pulled off an upset against what many considered to be the nation’s top college basketball team, as the Buckeyes earned a 71-66 victory over the Blue Devils at the Schottenstein Center in Columbus.
After trailing by 13 at halftime, Ohio State cut the Duke lead to five points on a Jamari Wheeler layup with 3:31 left to play, and a Cedric Russell 3-pointer from the wing cut the Blue Devil advantage to 66-64 with 2:32 to play. Russell drew an offensive foul from freshman star Paolo Banchero on the next defensive series for the Buckeyes, but with a chance to tie the game up with two free throws at the other end though, Russell split the pair.
However, E.J. Liddell gave Ohio State its first lead since early in the first half with two free throws with 1:03 to play, and a fadeaway jumper from the star forward with 15 seconds left on the clock helped seal the deal for Ohio State.
THE DAGGER. pic.twitter.com/YNGgfgdFO9— Eleven Warriors (@11W) December 1, 2021
The Buckeyes finished the game on a 12-0 over the final 3:31 as Duke went ice cold in the second half, shooting just 22.6 percent from the floor in the final 20 period. Russell scored six of the final 12 points for Ohio State, and finished with 12 on the night to set his new season-high with the Buckeyes.
Russell was averaging just 1.5 points per game for Ohio State entering the night.
Despite trailing by double digits at halftime, Ohio State had success to start things off on the night. By the time Liddell scored his first points of the first half, the Buckeyes had taken an early 13-7 lead over the Blue Devils at the 13:07 mark with the help of an 11-3 run in which Zed Key and Malaki Branham combined to score eight points for Ohio State.
It was all Duke after that though, as the Blue Devils countered with a 13-2 run in the next 3:05 of game time to put them back ahead 20-15. Ohio State had three turnovers in an 81-second span to help ignite the Duke run, and another Buckeye giveaway with 8:19 to go in the half allowed Banchero to get a steal and transition score with a foul to boot. Banchero missed the free throw, but the Blue Devils took a game-high 25-17 lead over Ohio State.
Another 7-0 Duke run, including five points from Banchero, increased the Blue Devil advantage to 11 points with 3:43 to play. But Kyle Young drew a charge to draw the third foul of the half on Banchero after that, and Cedric Russell knocked down a 3-pointer on the very next possession to give the Buckeyes some life.
Duke extinguished any Ohio State momentum to end the half, as a transition three with 26 second left gave the Blue Devils their largest lead of the half, at 43-29. Liddell split a pair of free throws with 0.1 seconds left on the clock to cut the Duke lead to 13 points at halftime.
The Buckeyes turned the ball over nine times in the first half, shot 3-for-10 from the free-throw line and missed seven of their 10 3-pointers as well. Ohio State gave up 10 points apiece from Duke’s Banchero and Wendell Moore, as the Blue Devils finished the half shooting 52.9 percent from the field.
Seven-and-a-half minutes into the second half, the Buckeyes had cut the Duke advantage down to six points, as Liddell blocked a shot off the backboard to spark a fastbreak that allowed Ahrens to knock down a triple from the wing. That shot made it a 53-47 ballgame with 12:31 to play, while a long scoring drought from the Blue Devils made the run possible.
In an eight-minute stretch through the middle of the final period, Duke shot just 1-for-14 from the field to leave the door open for the Buckeyes. Key set a new career-high scoring total on the night with 20 points to lead all scorers, and a huge second half from the sophomore forward was vital to Ohio State’s comeback down the stretch.
Liddell finished with 14 points for the Buckeyes, and despite Banchero's hot start, the highly touted freshman scored just four points in the final 20 minutes.
What's next: Ohio State goes back on the road this Sunday for its first Big Ten matchup of the season, a meeting with Penn State scheduled for a 7:30 p.m. tip-off.
- Justice Sueing (abdomen), Eugene Brown (concussion protocol) and Seth Towns (back) were all unavailable for Ohio State against the Blue Devils.
- Almost 10 years ago to the day, the second-ranked Buckeyes knocked off No. 3 Duke at the Schottenstein Center by a score of 85-63. The last time the two programs played before Tuesday, however, was the following season, when No. 2 Duke defeated the fourth-ranked Buckeyes by five points at the Cameron Indoor Stadium in 2012.
- Mike Krzyzewski has gone head-to-head with Ohio State three times during his Duke career, and entered Tuesday with a 2-1 record against the Buckeye program.
- The last time Ohio State took on the No. 1 team in the AP Top 25 was Jan. 7, 2018, when the unranked Buckeyes hosted top-ranked Michigan State and defeated the Spartans by 16 points.
- Zed Key was reinserted into the Ohio State starting lineup Tuesday after Joey Brunk had started at center in the past two contests entering the night. Key joined Jamari Wheeler, Malaki Branham, Justin Ahrens and E.J. Liddell in starting the game against Duke.