Ohio State Drops Third Game in A Row, Second Straight at Home in 70-67 Loss to Minnesota

By Griffin Strom on January 12, 2023 at 8:35 pm

The slide continues.

Ohio State has now dropped three games in a row after suffering its worst loss of the season, a 70-67 defeat to a Minnesota team that entered the day as the only Big Ten program without a conference win. The Buckeyes started 7-0 at home but have now lost back-to-back games at the Schottenstein Center for the first time in two seasons.

Team 1 2 FINAL
OHIO STATE 35 32 67
MINNESOTA 37 33 70

Ohio State’s effort was uninspired early as Minnesota led for nearly the entire first half and went to the locker room up two points. But the Buckeyes battled through a sluggish opening frame to retake a lead on the Gophers in the second half. It didn’t last long, though, as Minnesota took control shortly thereafter, eventually opening up a double-digit lead.

The Buckeyes tied it up with 8.6 seconds to go behind multiple clutch plays from Brice Sensabaugh, but ultimately couldn’t complete the comeback. A controversial foul call on a Bruce Thornton block allowed the Gophers to hit the game-winning free throw with less than two seconds remaining on the clock.

Zed Key returned to action after missing most of the past two games with a shoulder injury, and despite not starting the game, the Buckeyes’ starting center wound up logging 30 minutes and putting up 10 points before all was said and done. But even with Key on the floor, 6-foot-11 Gopher forward Dawson Garcia caused problems for the Buckeye defense all evening. Garcia dropped 12 points in the first half alone and finished with 28 for the game.

Despite possessing one of the nation’s elite offenses in terms of adjusted efficiency, the Buckeyes turned in their second straight flat performance in a losing effort. Ohio State shot just 37.5% from the field on Thursday to turn in its worst shooting night of the year. 

First Half

It was a slow start for the Buckeyes, who hit just two of their first 10 shots while Minnesota got out to a two-possession lead in the early going. Chris Holtmann called his first timeout before six minutes passed in an attempt to jumpstart his squad, but the Gophers just kept hitting shots. By the 12-minute mark, they’d mounted a 19-10 lead.

Ohio State scored eight of the next 10 points after that, but just as it seemed the Buckeyes had found their groove, they allowed Garcia to get going on the other end. The Gopher big man caught fire to score 12 straight Minnesota points in a little over three minutes of game time, keeping the Buckeyes at bay in the process.

Season scoring leaders Brice Sensabaugh and Justice Sueing both struggled from the floor as Ohio State shot a combined 35.3% from the field in the first half. Minnesota, which entered the game with the lowest-scoring offense in the conference, knocked down 55.6% of its shots.

But Ohio State hung around to stay within striking distance and a quick 6-0 run by Sean McNeil tied things up in the final minute. 

Minnesota responded with the final make of the half to enter halftime up 37-35 in hostile territory. The Gophers had a lead for 16:33 of the first 20 minutes.

67 POINTS 70
24-64 (37.5%) FGM-FGA (PCT.) 27-54 (50%)
6-13 (46.2%) 3PM-3PA (PCT.) 7-22 (31.8%)
13-15 (86.7%) FTM-FTA (PCT.) 9-16 (56.3%)

Second Half

Two early threes from Bruce Thornton provided an early spark for the Buckeye offense, and even as Garcia and the Gophers kept knocking down shots, Ohio State managed to tie the game up at 15:38 and 14:21.

Sensabaugh didn’t start the second half for Ohio State, but 22 seconds after entering the game for the first time in the period, he collected his own rebound and converted an and-one. The free throw put the Buckeyes up 51-50 a little under seven minutes into the half and Minnesota called a timeout. The lead was Ohio State’s first since its opening shot of the game.

The Gophers quickly swiped that momentum away from the scarlet and gray over the next few minutes, though, as they embarked on a 7-0 run to take a two-possession edge as the half reached the midway mark. While the Buckeyes missed seven out of eight shots during that stretch, Minnesota pushed it to 10 points unanswered en route to a nine-point advantage with 7:40 to play.

By the 5:15 mark, Minnesota had scored 14 of the past 16 points in the ballgame to open up a double-digit lead for the first time all game. Ohio State threw a full-court press at the Gophers to try and generate extra possessions, but still had significant ground to make up late.

Ohio State cut the Gopher lead to four points on a McNeil runner with 2:21 to go, and a Sensabaugh 3-pointer with 31 seconds to go made it a two-point game. Minnesota missed the front end of a one-and-one at the other end, and Sensabaugh got fouled on the next Buckeye possession to tie the game at the free-throw line.

But after Thornton was called for a foul on what appeared to be a clean block with 1.7 left, Minnesota hit one of two free throws and the Buckeyes threw the ball out of bounds on a full-court inbounds pass that effectively ended the game.

Game Notes

  • Zed Key (shoulder) was listed as a game-time decision ahead of tip-off, but entered the game at the 17:05 mark as Ohio State’s first man off the bench. Key missed all of Sunday’s Maryland game and all but four minutes of last week’s Purdue loss.
  • Eugene Brown made his first start of the season as Ohio State employed a center-less starting five against Minnesota. Bruce Thornton, Sean McNeil, Brice Sensabaugh and Justice Sueing also got the nod as starters.
  • Ohio State won its three previous matchups with the Gophers dating back to March 2021. The Buckeyes beat Minnesota, 70-45, in the teams’ last meeting on Feb. 15, 2022.
  • Chris Holtmann won five of his last eight games against the Gophers since taking over as Ohio State head coach in 2017.
  • Minnesota entered the game as the only Big Ten team without a win in conference play.
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