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First Half Notebook: No. 20 Ohio State vs. UCLA

Here are my first half thoughts with the Buckeyes looking to get back in the win column.
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Halftime Score: Ohio State 39, UCLA 38

It is great to have Ohio State Hoops on television after a Big Ten Championship victory for Ohio State Football earlier today. E.J. Liddell’s return provided a spark for the Buckeyes early, hitting a three-point shot to begin the game. Good ball movement and solid defense led to a 10-4 Ohio State lead in the opening minutes.

Kyle Young picked up his second foul less than four minutes into the game, quickly sending the Buckeye forward to the bench. Freshman Zed Key impressed with his moves in the paint, getting a bucket to fall, ending a 6-0 run for UCLA.

Ohio State’s offense was clearly much more efficient when making an extra pass, as Musa Jallow buried a 3-point shot in the corner to give the Buckeyes a 17-12 lead. Fouls have been killing the Bucks early, with six fouls in the first eight minutes.

E.J. Liddell’s presence has been crucial for the Buckeyes today, helping immensely on both ends of the floor. Chris Holtmann discussed the importance of cutting this week, and his team has done a solid job of cutting to the rim for the majority of this first half.

Two straight 3's made by Duane Washington helped the Buckeyes extend their lead to 25-19 with eight minutes to go in the first half. Thus far, it has been a matchup of Ohio State’s 3-point shooting vs. UCLA’s free-throw shooting. The Buckeyes must do a better job of defending without fouling if they want to win this game against a strong UCLA team, who was picked by many to win the Pac-12 this season.

Throughout Justice Sueing’s time at California, he had success against UCLA in four straight matchups. The Buckeyes should look to get him going, as Sueing has been excellent for Ohio State this season, but quiet today. Senior CJ Walker put an end to a 9-3 UCLA run with a nifty layup off-the-glass.

The game was tied at 30 with five minutes remaining in the first half. Freshman Eugene Brown hit a monstrous 3-point shot to put the Buckeyes back ahead of the Bruins 33-32. UCLA’s ability to drive through the Buckeye defense has been key throughout the early stages of this game. These teams appear to be evenly matched athletically and this one should come down to the wire.

Seth Towns made his Buckeye debut towards the end of the first half. Towns is a graduate transfer from Harvard and has been out with an injury so far this season. He will look to provide Ohio State with a boost, as the Buckeyes lead 39-38 at halftime.

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