Ohio State couldn't pass its first true test of the season Monday despite a spirited second-half effort in its first ranked matchup in Maui.
|#17 SAN DIEGO STATE
Pit against 17th-ranked San Diego State on the opening night of the Maui Invitational, the Buckeyes couldn’t put up enough points to outpace an Aztec team that boasts one of the best defenses in the country. By game’s end, San Diego State finished with an 88-77 edge at the Lahaina Civic Center in Hawaii.
The Buckeyes’ second straight dismal shooting start put them behind the eight-ball by the middle of the first half, and Ohio State couldn’t make up enough ground to get back into it late. Sean McNeil led a valiant comeback effort early in the final period, cutting the Aztec edge to four points with 13:28 to play, and Ohio State made another late run to keep it within single digits in the final few minutes.
But San Diego State ultimately stemmed the tide to close out the Buckeyes amid a stellar night shooting. Ohio State never led after the 12:37 mark of the first period.
Ohio State held San Diego State to an 0-for-8 start from the floor and scored the first five points of the contest. But the Buckeyes were hardly hot either, hitting just one of their first six shots, and Zed Key picked up two quick fouls that kept the Buckeye big man on the bench for much of the period. While Ohio State continued to struggle from the field, SDSU took its first lead of the game with a layup at 12:37 during a stretch in which the Buckeyes hit just 1-of-8 shots.
By the 10:10 mark, San Diego State had found its groove, using a 13-2 run to mount a six-point lead on the Buckeyes. Felix Okpara responded with a dunk, but the Aztecs kept hitting shots and extended the advantage to 22-13 less than three minutes later.
With three straight made shots under the five-minute mark, the Aztecs took their first double-digit lead of the game, 29-18, as former Buckeye Jaedon Ledee knocked down his second shot of the first half.
The San Diego State lead grew to as many as 15 points in the first half, but Ohio State closed the half down 37-26 as Brice Sensabaugh led the way with nine points off the bench. The Buckeyes shot just 30% from the floor and 1-for-11 from 3-point range while the Aztecs converted 41.9% of their shots and knocked down four of their 10 3-pointers.
After scoring just two points in the first half, Sean McNeil got Ohio State back into it with 11 straight points early in the period. His fifth consecutive basket put the Buckeyes back within nine points of the Aztecs at the 14:57 mark.
A 7-0 Buckeye run from 14:11 to 13:28 cut the Aztec lead to just four points, but San Diego State countered with an 8-0 run of its own to stop Ohio State’s momentum. Following back-to-back 3-pointers from SDSU’s Micah Parrish, a layup on a stolen inbounds pass put the Aztecs back up 12 points with 12:37 to go.
Another 7-0 stretch for San Diego State gave the Aztecs their largest lead of the game to that point, 68-52, before the under 10-minute media timeout.
A Bruce Thornton and-one made it a nine-point game with 4:51 to play, and a flagrant foul on San Diego State allowed Tanner Holden to convert a four-point play to cut the deficit to eight points with 4:02 to go. But the Aztecs answered once again and finished strong to stave off the scarlet and gray despite a much-improved second half.
Four Aztecs finished with double-digit scoring figures, and 22 points from McNeil couldn’t save the Buckeyes from defeat. Two freshmen, Thornton and Sensabaugh, finished in double figures for Ohio State, combining to score 30 points.
Ohio State takes on Cincinnati, who lost to Arizona on Monday, at 5 p.m. Tuesday on ESPN2.
- Junior guard Eugene Brown missed his fourth straight game to start the season as he continues to go through concussion protocol.
- Ohio State had only matched up with San Diego State three previous times since the 1949-50 season, with only one loss against the Aztecs entering Monday’s contest. The Buckeyes last played SDSU in 2003-04, losing 83-61 at home.
- San Diego State forward Jaedon Ledee, who entered the night leading the Aztecs with 16 points per game, played for Ohio State in 2018-19 before transferring to TCU.
- Ohio State employed the same starting lineup as it did in the first three games, with Bruce Thornton, Sean McNeil, Justice Sueing, Isaac Likekele and Zed Key starting out the contest.
- Tanner Holden was the first Buckeye off the bench in the first half.
- Zed Key hit the first shot of the game for Ohio State for the fourth straight time to start the season.