In a lengthy regular season that results in a conference tournament followed by a national championship tournament, it’s hard to call a game on a Wednesday night against Minnesota a “must win” game. But that’s exactly what tonight’s battle at the Schottenstein Center with the Minnesota Golden Gophers was for our Ohio State Buckeyes basketball team. Coming off a horrible loss on Sunday at Wisconsin and with Michigan State looming this Sunday, the Buckeyes needed the Gophers to right the ship and did just that in a convincing 71-45 win.
With the win the Buckeyes improve to 19-7 on the year, 9-5 in the Big Ten.
Aaron Craft’s buzzer beating three ended what was a first half of missed opportunities for Ohio State. The Buckeye defense regained its lost mojo and forced Minnesota into 12 first half turnovers but could only convert the miscues into ten points. The Bucks lead 29-23 at the half, but you had the feeling they could have blown the game wide open at several different spots.
The second half turned out to be a different story. The Buckeyes continued to clamp down on defense, meanwhile shots began to fall and easy transition buckets found them up 41-31 at the 12:00 mark and they never looked back.
Deshaun Thomas led all scorers with 19. He was followed for Ohio State by Shannon Scott with 11 and Laquinton Ross with 10. Minnesota was led by Andre Hollins with 11 and Oto Osnieks with 10.
The Buckeyes have now won 6 straight over the Golden Gophers. Tonight’s 26 point win is the largest in the series with Minnesota since the Buckeyes abused the Gophers 94-63 on March 4th 1992.
Ohio State came out aggressive in the second half and took the game to the Gophers. The ball began to find the hoops unlike in the first half when plenty of opportunities were missed to kick open the door and run away with the game. Deshaun Thomas started slow with only two points in the first 16 minutes of the game but rebounded nicely finishing with 19 and not letting the slow start hurt him. The Buckeye defense held Minnesota without a field goal from the 16:15 mark of the second half until 5:36 remained in the game.
The not so good:
It’s hard to point out much “bad” in a 26 point win, so we”ll call this the “not so good”. For me the biggest mistake in the game for Ohio state has to be not jumping on the 12 turnovers they forced in the first half. They really had a chance to put the Gophers away early but poor shooting and decisions let them off the hook. Luckily in the second half they corrected things and blew the Gophers doors off.
And so the stage is set: Ohio State vs Michigan State at the Schottenstein Center on Sunday at 4:00, live on CBS.
This is a rematch from January 19th when the Buckeyes lost in the Breslin Center 59-53 to then 18th ranked Michigan State. Sparty comes into Sunday’s game now ranked number 4 with a 22-5 record (11-3 Big Ten).
Get ready for a war!