Albeit not necessarily together as a group, experience is one of the strengths of this Buckeyes hoops team. Chris Holtmann has said numerous times at the beginning of the year he's still learning how this group can work well together.
Today, it was the young guns Zed Key and Eugene Brown III who gave Ohio State the extra boost it needed to beat a strong UCLA team, 77-70.
In the first half, Ohio State was provided with a spark from E.J. Liddell, making his return after missing the past two games. Harvard graduate transfer, Seth Towns, made his Buckeye debut in the final minutes of the first half.
Early 3-point shooting from Duane Washington and gritty play off the bench by Musa Jallow helped the Buckeyes build a narrow 39-38 lead at the intermission.
An early 9-1 run by UCLA in the second half gave the Bruins a 49-44 lead. Kyle Young had to leave the game throughout this stretch, after taking a blow to the face. Young was able to walk off the court, but received medical attention on the sidelines. He would eventually return.
Freshman Zed Key provided a huge energy boost off the bench with an and-one conversion. E.J. Liddell was soon benched after picking up his fourth foul of the game. A first half issue of committing fouls continued to plague the Buckeyes early in the second half.
Zed Key continued his dominance inside the paint as the second half progressed. Key’s impressive work inside kept Ohio State in sync throughout significant patches of the game. Key finished with 11 points and 6 rebounds in 22 minutes off the bench.
Chris Holtmann elected to bring E.J. Liddell back into the game with four fouls with under 10 minutes remaining. Liddell unfortunately fouled out just two minutes later. He finished the game with nine points on 4-of-8 shooting and added three rebounds in 19 minutes of action.
A running floater off-the-glass by Duane Washington tied the game at 61 with seven minutes to go. Freshman Eugene Brown III then brought the Buckeye bench to its feet after draining two straight 3-point shots to give Ohio State a 69-65 lead. Brown III finished the game with nine points on 3-of-3 shooting from 3-point land.
With non-conference play now in the books during this shortened season, the Buckeyes will return home on Wednesday to host a very good Rutgers team.
More to come from Cleveland after Chris Holtmann wraps up his post-game press conference.
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