Carr's Triple Inflicts Ohio State's Sixth Loss in Seven Games
It doesn't guarantee a team anything if it knows where the ball should be at crunch time, but Ohio State would settle for that small step in the right direction now that it appears the road back to viability is longer than anticipated.
Minnesota is not a great team, not the kind that should win at OSU after thumping the Buckeyes with their first loss in December and the Big Ten having proven so far that it's both all about paybacks and home teams dominating.
But the Gophers did win Thursday night in Columbus because they had no doubt on whose shoulders they would survive or fail at the finish.
Marcus Carr rewarded his teammates' faith by draining a gut-punch three-pointer with 3.3 seconds remaining to provide a 62-59 win.
Carr had 13 of his 21 in the second half after embarrassing Ohio State with 28 of his 35 in the second half of the teams' initial meeting.
His capability should not have been lost on the Buckeyes (12-7, 2-6), who nevertheless allowed him the freedom to shoot over C.J. Walker.
Ohio State doesn't have a guy like Carr, who not only wants, but demands the last shot and has the talent to free himself to launch it.
He never gave up possession after tracking Kaleb Wesson's three-point miss with 16 seconds left in a tie game.
Carr dribbled away the time, ducked around a teammate's screen, found a breath of space and played hero.
The loss is Ohio State's sixth in seven games, and a contender for the worst of the lot, given that Minnesota (11-8, 5-4) hadn't yet won on an opposing home court in six tries and trailed by nine points at halftime.
"I think in some ways we took a step forward in some areas," OSU coach Chris Holtmann said. "Right now were just not good enough in enough areas to win in this league. We're just not."
That assessment is as brutal in its honesty as it is in shock value when applied to a team that once reached No. 2 in the nation after routing Villanova, winning easily at North Carolina and handling Kentucky on a neutral court.
The blowout of Carolina isn't a big deal now because Carolina isn't what Carolina has been down through the decades, but the Buckeyessurely aren't what they were even five weeks ago.
"We grew up today," Minnesota coach Richard Pitino said. "We found a way to get stops in the second half, get physical rebounds and make some huge plays down the stretch."
Ohio State was positioned to do the same, and maybe could have sold a victory as a testament to mustering the mental toughness it's lacked lately, but instead looked lost searching for a go-ahead shot out of its final timeout with 38 seconds left.
Wesson stopped his dribble deep on the right wing, not in the post where his size might have drawn a foul. He kicked to Duane Washington, who drove the baseline but got cut off before desperation passing it back to Wesson.
His open three-pointer in front of the Ohio State bench bounced off the rim to Carr.
Cue the Lone Ranger theme for him and the funeral dirge for the Buckeyes.
"I think out guys competed, battled, played hard," Holtmann said. "We were locked in. We had a few errors that happened that get you in this league. We have to find a way to answer the bell late in situations."
Getting more out of Wesson than two points on a dunk one minute into the second half would help.
He shot 1-for-10, although he did have 14 rebounds.
Kyle Young had 14 points, but Holtmann removed him from the lineup at the final timeout in advance of Wesson's last three-point misfire.
Andre Wesson threw the ball out of bounds on a court-length pass after Carr's game-winning shot.
Washington, who had 12 points, teased the crowd with a desperation three that clanged off the rim after Minnesota missed a free throw with two seconds left.
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