Skip to main content

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – Ohio State's dream basketball season hit the skids a few weeks ago, and the Buckeyes staggered into the Big Ten Tournament stuck on a surprising four-game losing streak.

So no matter how it happened, the Buckeyes were thrilled to get a win on Thursday, beating Minnesota 79-75 in the second round at Lucas Oil Stadium. No more 21-days-and-counting on the losing streak.

Smiles all around.

"Actually, the spirit of our guys has been really good,'' Ohio State coach Chris Holtmann said. "They weren't feeling the effects of losing four, and I didn't sense that in practice. 

"They recognized that this is a new opportunity, and we had a lot of good stretches of play today. They've had a great mind-set coming into it, and they got a nice win.''

Ohio State (19-8) came out blazing, scoring the first 13 points of the game, and Minnesota (14-15) looked like a team that had played the night before. They had, beating Northwestern in the first round. The Buckeyes knew it was important to get off to a good start, for a variety of reasons.

There was the bad taste of the losing streak, but also semi-fresh memories of the 17-point beatdown that Minnesota had put on them in Minneapolis back in January.

"The big emphasis today was to come out and throw the first punch,'' said Buckeyes point guard C.J. Walker, an Indianapolis native who had 10 points and six assists off the bench. "They did that to us when we lost up there. We were able to get some dunks earlier and get our juices flowing.''

Read More

Minnesota got back to within 24-20, but Ohio State stretched the lead back out after an 11-2 run. They led by 12 a few times in the second half, but Minnesota would keep making runs. Even up 14 with just 3:25 to go, they had to hold off the Gophers down the stretch, who cut the lead to one with a Marcus Carr three-pointer with 15 seconds left. But E.J. Liddell and Duane Washington Jr. each made free throws down the stretch to close the door. 

"I think guys were excited. We knew Minnesota was a tough team, but I think as much as anything, our guys were excited (about getting a win,'' Holtmann said. "I want them to enjoy this. They're college basketball players and it's not life or death. You can think that way when you're losing.''

Ohio State had five players in double figures, with Washington and Justice Sueing leading the way with 16 points. Carr led Minnesota with 24. 

The victory sends the fifth-seeded Buckeyes into the quarterfinals, where No. 4 Purdue awaits at 2 p.m. ET on Friday. Purdue is the only team to beat Ohio State twice this season, so the Buckeyes are thrilled to get a second shot.

"Yeah, they swept us in the regular season, so we want this one a little bit more. Purdue is a good team and we're going to have to come ready to play,'' Sueing said.

Holtmann is aware of the situation, too, and he knows the Buckeyes are going to have their hands full once again. 

"I think you're always aware of it. They were the only team to sweep us this year,'' Holtmann said. "Both games were close, and at our place ,their freshman (Jaden) Ivey hit a shot late to beat us. Trevion (Williams) is always a load, and it's going to be a challenge for us. It'll be a physical game like it always is.

"We have to be better against them. We can't have 15 turnovers against them and expect to beat them.'' 

  • MARYLAND ADVANCES: The Terrapins shook off a slow start and then rolled over Michigan State in the second round, winning 68-57. Eric Ayala had 21 points for Maryland. CLICK HERE
  • TOURNAMENT PAIRINGS, SCHEDULE: Here is the complete schedule and pairings for the Big Ten Tournament. CLICK HERE