Ohio State Men’s Basketball Ends 2023 With a Win, Defeats West Virginia, 78-75, in Overtime to Complete Nonconference Schedule

By Chase Brown on December 30, 2023 at 9:35 pm
Roddy Gayle Jr.
Ken Blaze / USA TODAY Network

Almost Heaven, an Ohio State win.

After Ohio State football fell to Missouri, 14-3, in the Cotton Bowl and women’s basketball lost to Michigan, 69-60, in Ann Arbor, Buckeye Nation needed one of their beloved teams to win this weekend.

Ohio State men’s basketball delivered.

WEST VIRGINIA 26 39 10 75
OHIO STATE 28 37 13 78

In its final regular-season game of 2023, Ohio State defeated West Virginia, 78-75, in overtime at Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse in Cleveland. The Buckeyes’ win over the Mountaineers improved the team’s record to 11-2 overall before the calendar turns to 2024 and Chris Holtmann’s squad starts Big Ten competition.

Sophomore standout Roddy Gayle Jr. led the way for Ohio State in the win, collecting 32 points on 11-of-21 shooting. He also added seven rebounds, six assists and one steal.

First Half

After a turnover on Ohio State’s opening possession, West Virginia guard RaeQuan Battle, the Big 12 Player of the Week entering the contest, put the Mountaineers ahead with a deep 3-pointer. From there, however, the Buckeyes took control. Gayle scored seven points, and Bruce Thornton and Felix Okpara combined for five to put Ohio State in front, 12-5, at the 16:00 media timeout.

When the teams returned to the floor, Ohio State continued to press their LeBron James-sponsored sneakers harder on the gas pedal. Over the next four minutes, the Buckeyes’ defense suffocated the Mountaineers, who missed all five of their attempts and turned the ball over twice between breaks. Meanwhile, Zed Key threw down a powerful dunk, and Jamison Battle swished a pull-up jumper from the edge of the maroon paint.

At the 9:18 mark, a cherry-picked, fast-break dunk from West Virginia forward Quinn Slazinski broke the Mountaineers’ cold streak and cut Ohio State’s lead in half, 16-8. Okpara then slammed home a dunk and nailed a pair of free throws, extending the Buckeyes’ lead to 20-8 before WVU forward Noah Farrakhan converted a contested mid-range jumper. When the third media timeout arrived, Ohio State led 24-10 with free throws from Evan Mahaffey and another bucket from Gayle.

In the final eight minutes, West Virginia gained momentum with an 11-0 run – which included an old-fashioned three-point play from Slazinski, another contested mid-range jumper from Farrakhan and a putback dunk from forward Pat Suemnick – to make it 24-21. Key ended the run around the two-minute mark with a pair of free throws.

Following an Ohio State timeout at the 1:30 mark, West Virginia guard Kriisa Kerr tied the game, 26-26, with a 3-pointer. Thornton made the final field goal of the half when he drove to the lane and made a left-handed layup with 36 seconds left. The Buckeyes led 28-26 at the intermission.

Second Half

78 POINTS 75
26-73 (35.6%) FGM-FGA (PCT.) 29-68 (42.6%)
11-34 (32.4%) 3PM-3PA (PCT.) 5-22 (22.7%)
15-25 (60%) FTM-FTA (PCT.) 12-16 (75.0%)

After the break, three of Ohio State's first four possessions resulted in points. Gayle provided the first bucket with a mid-range jumper before Battle made consecutive 3-pointers to keep the Buckeyes in front, 36-30. Field goals from Gayle and Okpara – which came from a Gayle assist – plus a pair of Gayle free throws then extended Ohio State's lead to 42-30.

Ohio State used that cushion to endure a West Virginia 10-0 run, which Farrakhan and Kerr spearheaded. The former scored five points in that stretch, while the latter added three. Forward Josiah Harris also added a field goal to cut the Buckeyes’ lead to 42-40.

Between the second media timeout and a Holtmann 30-second timeout at the 8:23 mark, Gayle scored five consecutive points for the Buckeyes – a fastbreak layup and an in-rhythm 3-pointer. Scotty Middleton and Battle also made shots from behind the arc as Ohio State took a 53-47 lead.

As the clock approached 0:00, the Mountaineers kept the score close, and when the final commercial break commenced, West Virginia cut Ohio State's lead to three points, 61-58. Soon, three became two, and two became one, as the Mountaineers tied the game at 65 with a Suemnick layup.

On the final possession of regulation, Gayle attempted to drive the lane and score a game-winner for the Buckeyes, but he lost the ball in the short corner, and time expired without a field goal for Ohio State.


Battle drilled a 3-pointer for the first points of the extra period and put Ohio State up 68-65. The Buckeyes and Mountaineers then traded baskets as RaeQuan Battle, Gayle, RaeQuan Battle and Thornton each scored. West Virginia head coach Josh Eilert called a timeout at the 2:25 mark with Ohio State leading 73-69.

In the final possessions of the contest, Thornton made a crucial 3-pointer for the Buckeyes and made one of two free throws to keep his team ahead, 77-71, with two minutes left. Even more crucial, Ohio State's defense kept West Virginia from consecutive field goals down the stretch, and the Buckeyes received an additional one from Key to leave Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse with a three-point win, 78-75.

Game Notes

  • Ohio State completed its nonconference schedule with the neutral-site win over West Virginia. The contest was part of the Legends of Basketball Classic at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse in Cleveland, home of the NBA’s Cleveland Cavaliers. The Buckeyes went 11-1 in nonconference play.
  • Saturday’s contest was the second consecutive meeting in Cleveland between Ohio State and West Virginia. The Mountaineers won the last matchup, 77-68, on Dec. 29, 2019. Kaleb Wesson paced the Buckeyes with 17 points as four players scored in double figures.
  • Ohio State improved to 4-0 in neutral-site matchups in 2023-24. The Buckeyes won both of their games at the Emerald Coast Classic in Niceville, Florida, and defeated UCLA in the CBS Sports Classic in Atlanta.
View 74 Comments