Ohio State Falls Short 79-77 in Final Seconds Against Georgia, Sees Season End in NIT Quarterfinals

By Andy Anders on March 26, 2024 at 9:09 pm

Jamison Battle did everything he could to will Ohio State to the NIT semifinals.

Ultimately, his efforts came up literal inches short.

With Ohio State trailing 79-77 and inbounding the ball against Georgia with 1.3 seconds remaining, Battle caught a pass between two defenders and heaved a potential game-winning shot toward the basket.

It landed softly on the front of the rim and bounced off, and Ohio State (22-14) saw its season come to a close in 79-77 fashion against Georgia (20-16) in the NIT quarterfinals.

Guard Noah Thomasson led the way for Georgia with 21 points, aided by 17 from guard Blue Cain and 10 from forward Frank Anselem-Ibe.

#4 GEORGIA 36 43 79
#2 OHIO STATE 35 42 77

Battle put on a show in his final game as a Buckeye, amassing 22 points with four triples. Bruce Thornton reached double-figures at 13 points despite playing through a thigh injury while Roddy Gayle Jr. and Felix Okpara added 11 and 12 points of their own.

First half

A 4-of-13 shooting start from Ohio State allowed Georgia to build a 15-8 lead early. Cain did the brunt of Georgia's early scoring with two three-point plays, one the old-fashioned way.

The Buckeyes' freshmen got to work to spark a 7-0 run and tie the contest at 15 with Devin Royal getting his own three-point play and Taison Chatman knocking down a smooth baseline jumper off the dribble.

After Georgia pulled ahead 21-17, Ohio State responded with a towering alley-oop from Thornton to Okpara. Justin Hill made it 23-19 on a layup, then Thornton canned a step-back three-pointer that combined with another alley-oop to Okpara to give the Buckeyes their first lead since they were up 6-5.

Then Battle splashed a triple to cap a 7-0 run, bringing the Value City Arena crowd to its feet with enough of a roar to drown out any conversation.

Another Okpara slam followed but back-to-back Bulldog buckets tied the game at 29. Gayle hit a layup off a fast break, then Ohio State and Georgia exchanged the lead five times in the final two minutes of the opening period before the Bulldogs brought a 36-35 advantage into halftime.

Second half

79 POINTS 77
31-68 (45.6%) FGM-FGA (PCT.) 32-67 (47.8%)
7-20 (35%) 3PM-3PA (PCT.) 10-25 (40%)
8-10 (80%) FTM-FTA (PCT.) 5-10 (50%)

Georgia launched a 13-2 run in the opening minutes of the second half, building a 51-39 lead that created many uneasy fans in the Schottenstein Center.

It wasn't long before those same supporters were back on their feet.

A three-point play from Zed Key ignited an 8-0 run in response, including a dunk from Key that got the entire crowd to join in his signature "raise the roof" celebration over a defeating chorus of cheers.

But the Bulldogs' response came quick. Another 10-0 sprint made it 60-47 with 12:19 remaining. Ohio State tried to answer again with a 6-0 run, but a Thomasson triple killed the team's momentum.

That is until Thornton drove to the rack for a lay-in and Battle nailed a second-chance three-pointer. A massive second-chance slam from the forward and five consecutive points from Dale Bonner followed.

A triple from Battle came next and some eardrums may have popped in the Schottenstein Center. A 17-0 run placed the Buckeyes ahead 70-64 with 4:50 to play.

Two Georgia threes, one off a very friendly bounce, evened the score at 70.

Back and forth the score tilted. Battle grabbed a dunk, Hill tied things with a layup. A Gayle floater was answered by a Dylan James three, only for Thornton to break a defender's ankles and make it 76-75 Ohio State with a layup as the clock ticked under two minutes remaining.

Thomasson moved the Bulldogs back ahead on a mid-range jumper, however, and a missed triple from Battle forced a foul with 25 seconds remaining. Cain hit both free throws and Georgia led 79-76.

Thornton drew a foul and hit his first free throw but missed the second. Georgia had a shot to run out the clock or go to the line and make it a two-score game, but Bonner came up with a steal to keep Buckeye hopes alive.

Thornton missed a 3-pointer on Ohio State’s ensuing possession, but the loose ball went off of Georgia, giving the Buckeyes one more shot to win the game. Battle’s miss sealed a two-point victory for the Bulldogs.

Game notes

  • Ohio State honored wrestler Jesse Mendez off his national championship at 141 pounds on Saturday on the floor at Value City Arena. Ohio State's pistol team received the same recognition off of its fourth straight national title.
  • Battle finished his lone season in Columbus with his 10th 20-point game and also his 10th contest hitting at least four threes.
  • Thornton tied his career-high with 10 assists.
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