Ohio State Minces Minnesota Inside to Beat Gophers 75-64 On the Road

By Griffin Strom on January 27, 2022 at 9:54 pm

Ohio State exorcized a 7-year-old demon at Williams Arena Thursday as the Buckeyes turned The Barn into a house of horrors for the home team.

In its first win on the road at Minnesota since 2015, Ohio State bullied its Big Ten foe inside to secure a 75-64 victory against a Gopher program that entered the night having won three of its last four matchups with the Buckeyes. Ohio State outscored Minnesota 43-34 in the second half and never trailed in the final frame.

Team 1 2 FINAL
#16 OHIO STATE 32 43 75
Minnesota 30 34 64

Although the outside shots weren’t falling for the Buckeyes for most of the night, they didn’t have to, as Ohio State thoroughly dominated on the interior by just about every metric. Buckeye big men E.J. Liddell, Kyle Young and Zed Key all finished with double-digit point totals on the night as Ohio State ran away with the rebounding advantage (48-22) and points in the paint differential (40-26). The Buckeyes scored 27 second chance points while the Gophers mustered just six.

On a night when Liddell hit 1,000 career points for Ohio State, he also set a new career-high with 15 rebounds to lead the Buckeyes. Liddell also led the way with 23 points and five assists for Ohio State on the night as well.

Ohio State took a 32-30 lead to halftime after outrebounding the Gophers, 24-13, in the first 20 minutes. Those rebounds helped lead to a 13-4 Buckeye advantage in second chance points, and Ohio State outscored Minnesota 16-10 in the paint in the opening period.

Malaki Branham led the way for the Buckeyes early, knocking down four straight shots to start the game and scoring nine of the first 11 points for Ohio State. Branham had 11 points through 20 minutes while Liddell sprang to life late in the half, heading to the locker room with nine points and nine boards with a whole half left to play.

75 POINTS 64
30-66 (45.5%) FGM-FGA (PCT.) 24-55 (43.6%)
7-27 (25.9%) 3PM-3PA (PCT.) 8-24 (33.3%)
8-9 (88.9%) FTM-FTA (PCT.) 8-11 (72.7%)

There were 11 lead changes in the first half, but Ohio State led most of the way and scored five of the final six points of the period to go ahead before the intermission.

The Gophers kept things close by shooting 5-for-12 from 3-point range while the Buckeyes struggled from downtown, hitting just 3-of-15 from beyond the arc.

Liddell scored his 1,000th career point for the Buckeyes less than a minute into the second half, and the and-one play from Ohio State’s star forward put the scarlet and gray up by a game-high eight points.

But Young made quite the impact of his own in the early portion of the second half, scoring eight straight points in a span of 2:06 to help give the Buckeyes their largest lead of the game, 48-37, at the 14:20 mark. Young finished with 14 points on the night.

Then it was Key who took his turn, scoring eight of Ohio State’s next 10 points as the Buckeyes continued to pile on inside. By the 8:57 mark, Key helped his team to a 6-0 run that extended the Ohio State lead to 12 points. Ten of Key's 12 points for the game came in the second half alone.

A couple of 3-pointers did start to fall for Ohio State late, though, and Cedric Russell’s second of the final frame put the Buckeyes ahead by 14 points, 71-57, with 3:36 to play. Russell hit two of just seven 3-pointers on the night for Ohio State, which shot just 25.9 percent from deep.

Ohio State closed things out from there to give Chris Holtmann his 100th win as Buckeye head coach. Only six coaches in program history had previously hit that mark.

Four different Gophers finished with double-digit point totals, as transfer forward Jamison Battle led the way for Minnesota with 15 on 5-for-18 shooting.

What’s next: Ohio State remains on the road this weekend as it travels to West Lafayette to take on 6th-ranked Purdue, the top-rated team in the Big Ten, at noon on Sunday.

Other Notes

  • Meechie Johnson, who missed the past three games for Ohio State with a facial fracture and concussion, made his second start of the season in place of Jamari Wheeler, who was out with a foot injury. It was the first game Wheeler has ever missed in his five-year college career.
  • E.J. Liddell became the 60th player in Ohio State history to score 1,000 points in his Buckeye career.
  • Chris Holtmann became the seventh Buckeye head coach to win at least 100 games in the program.
  • Three Minnesota starters – Jamison Battle, Eric Curry and E.J. Stephens – missed Minnesota’s last game before Thursday, but Battle and Stephens both returned for the matchup with Ohio State.
  • Ohio State had not won at Williams Arena since Jan. 6, 2015, when D’Angelo Russell led the Buckeyes to a 74-72 win with a 27-point individual effort.
  • Ohio State had lost three of its past four games against Minnesota coming in, with a win in the Big Ten Tournament last spring stopping a three-game Buckeye skid in the series.
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