Tanner Holden called game.
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With his first points of the night, the Wright State transfer hit a buzzer-beating 3-pointer to give Ohio State a 67-66 win over Rutgers in the Buckeyes' Big Ten opener.
Ohio State was trailing by two points after a missed free throw by Rutgers' Caleb McConnell, and the Buckeyes had a chance to tie it up or win with five seconds remaining. Holden's contested heave from distance sent the Columbus crowd into a frenzy as the first-year Buckeye cemented a walk-off win for Ohio State.
The 25th-ranked scarlet and gray slayed the Scarlet Knights in the final seconds of a conference-opening victory against a Rutgers team fresh off an emphatic win over then-No. 10 Indiana. Ohio State increased its home winning streak to five straight games with another successful effort at the Schottenstein Center.
Ohio State led for all but 1:42 of the first half, but after momentum swung late in the opening period, Rutgers capitalized to take multiple leads in the final frame. Both sides took small advantages in a back-and-forth second half that went down to the wire, but the Buckeyes made the biggest play with no time left on the clock.
|26-56 (46.4%)||FGM-FGA (PCT.)||28-54 (51.9%)|
|8-19 (42.1%)||3PM-3PA (PCT.)||5-17 (29.4%)|
|7-12 (58.3)||FTM-FTA (PCT.)||5-8 (62.5%)|
Zed Key and Brice Sensabaugh, who made his first collegiate start with Isaac Likekele out for the Buckeyes, did the heavy lifting offensively, scoring north of 30 combined points for Ohio State. Key put up 22 points and 14 rebounds while Sensabaugh added 13 points of his own.
It was the Zed Key Show early. The Buckeye big man scored 13 of Ohio State’s first 24 points and went to halftime with 15 on 7-for-9 shooting. Key also pulled down eight rebounds and dished two assists as he led the Buckeyes to a 31-29 lead at the intermission.
Ohio State needed Key’s energy to stem an early Scarlet Knight tide, though. A 9-0 Rutgers run on three straight 3-pointers gave the Knights an 11-5 lead at the first media timeout while the Buckeyes hit just two of their first seven shots.
But the pause in action was just what the Buckeyes needed, as Ohio State responded right out of the timeout to embark on a 14-0 run and reclaim the lead. The Buckeyes knocked down two 3-pointers in that stretch, and Key scored six of those points by himself – including a one-handed putback dunk that forced a Scarlet Knight timeout at 14:06.
Ohio State mounted a 19-11 lead before Rutgers stopped the bleeding with its fourth triple of the first half with 12:21 to go in the first half. By the 4:06 mark, a Brice Sensabaugh three gave Ohio State its first double-digit lead of the night, 31-20.
Rutgers came right back with a run of its own, though, and rattled off the final nine points of the half to head to the locker room with momentum on its side.
The Buckeyes held a 19-12 edge on the glass, outscored Rutgers 18-12 in the paint and shot nine more free throws than the Scarlet Knights. But while Rutgers hit five of its final seven shots of the half, Ohio State knocked down just three of its last 10.
Rutgers tied the game up on the first shot of the second half, and although the Buckeyes hit three of their next four shots thereafter, the Scarlet Knights scored six straight points – all layups or dunks – to take their first lead since early in the first half at the 13:10 mark.
Ohio State stayed one step ahead over the next several minutes, but Rutgers tied the game repeatedly as it found success inside and began to surge ahead in the points in the paint differential.
A steal in the backcourt by Rutgers forward Aundre Hyatt led to a transition jumper that gave the Scarlet Knights a two-point lead before the under-seven-minute media timeout. Justice Sueing took the lead back for the Buckeyes with a 3-pointer at the 5:19 mark, but Rutgers big man Clifford Omoruyi flipped things again with an and-one dunk just 34 seconds later. Omoruyi had just two points in the first half, but came alive to score double figures in the final 20 minutes.
With less than three minutes remaining, the Buckeyes and Scarlet Knights were knotted up at 59 apiece. But given the chance to take a lead, Ohio State was whistled for a moving screen that handed the ball back to Rutgers. The Scarlet Knights proceeded to hit a layup to retake the lead on the next possession.
A Key hook inside tied things up thereafter, but Rutgers answered again, and Bruce Thornton only hit one of two free throws that would’ve kept it at a stalemate with 56 seconds left.
Down one with just 23.7 seconds left, Sensabaugh’s potential game-winner was blocked and Rutgers went up three with a pair of free throws at the other end. But after Rutgers went up by two with five seconds to go, Holden’s buzzer-beater closed the show as the home crowd leaped to its feet in celebration.
- Ohio State had won 10 of the previous 14 all-time matchups with Rutgers dating back to 1978.
- The Scarlet Knights took last year’s lone matchup with the Buckeyes, 66-64, in New Jersey on Feb. 9, 2022.
- At least one of the two programs has been ranked in AP Top 25 in each of the past four meetings between Ohio State and Rutgers, including Thursday’s contest.
- Ohio State guard Eugene Brown (concussion) missed his ninth straight game to start the year.
- Starting guard Isaac Likekele missed his first game of the season to attend to a family matter in his home state of Texas.
- In place of Likekele, freshman Brice Sensabaugh made his first collegiate start alongside Bruce Thornton, Sean McNeil, Justice Sueing and Zed Key.
- Rutgers freshman Antwone Woolfolk is a Cleveland, Ohio, native, and senior Caleb McConnell – a Florida native – played high school basketball at Spire Academy in Geneva, Ohio.
- Chris Holtmann held a 4-1 record in his first five Big Ten openers as head coach at Ohio State.