(Photo courtesy cleveland.com. Game information courtesy OhioStateBuckeyes.com, ESPN.com)

Ohio State (13-8, 3-5) overcame late game dodgy free throw shooting to beat Minnesota (15-6, 3-5), 78-72 on Wednesday evening at the VCA.

In the first half, Ohio State appeared to have this game under complete control; with 3:11 remaining in the half, the Buckeyes held a 40-23 lead.  A 17 point lead that late in the half looks pretty good.

But, Ohio State went comatose. Minnesota outscored Ohio State 12-0 in the remaining time (pretty impressive) to trail the Buckeyes 40-35 at the half.

What the hell happened? During the last 3:11, Minnesota went 5-5 from the field, while Ohio State went 0-5 and a turnover. All the excellent effort of the first 17 minutes was damn near squandered in 3 minutes of play.

In the second half, Ohio State essentially counter-punched Minnesota to hold serve (I’ve just run out of sports analogies) to gain the 6 point win. Ohio State held the led for the entire 2nd half, with the margin ranging from as many as 10 points to as few as 2 points .

The Buckeyes had four players score in double figures;  Trevor Thompson (19 points), Marc Loving (19), JaQuan Lyle (11) and Jae’Sean Tate (10). Trevor had another double-double by getting 10 rebounds.

The Gophers also had four players in double figures: Nate Mason (21 points), Akeem Springs (15), Amir Coffee (11) and Reggie Lynch (10). Springs also pulled off a double-double by grabbing 10 rebounds.

Thoughts and opinions…

  • In my first paragraph (above) I felt the OSU free throw shooting was ‘dodgy’.  In the first 27 minutes of play, Ohio State was 13-13 (you can do the math) from the foul line. Thad had to be happy. Over the next 13 minutes of play, the Buckeyes were 10-17 (59%), which probably made Thad not happy.
  • Trevor Thompson had another double-double (19 points, 10 rebounds). That doesn’t tell the whole story of is value to this team. Let’s bookend the 2nd half as an example. In the first 15 seconds, Trevor misses a shot, gets his rebound and gets the put-back. In the last 16 seconds of the game, Trevor goes 1-2 from Ft line, has a defensive rebound and has 2 blocks! Trevor is far and away the MVP of this team.
  • In the Northwestern recap, I excoriated Marc Loving for his tendency in conference games to match field goal and turnover production. Marc had an exceptional game, but he did pass the mantle of “what the hell?” to JaQuan Lyle. JaQuan had 3 field goals and 5 turnovers.
  • As long as I’m naming players, I want to mention what a good game Andre Wesson played. His stat line was 9 points, 1 rebound 1 assist, 1 steal. Nothing overwhelming, but Thad got a solid, positive 19 minutes of play from the freshman. With Kieta Bates-Diop ‘on the shelf’ due to injury, Wesson seems to be more comfortable with increased playing time. Give it to him, Thad.
  • In the Northwestern recap, I mentioned that the transition game was an issue. Nothing changed; Minnesota outscored Ohio State 12-3 on fast break points. If the Buckeyes can be a bit more aware and transition into defense a bit quicker, this issue will take care of itself.

This was another “good effort” game by the Buckeyes, and with much better results than their previous game. If Thad can continue to get the energy, along with some “basketball IQ” from this team, I know we’ll see significant improvement as we come down the last month of the schedule. And, if this team shows improvement while grinding through a conference schedule, that’s a good thing.

One final note; I listened to the game on 97.1. Paul Keels and Ron Stokes are absolutely world-class in their coverage. Not shilling for this station, but if you aren’t listening to this broadcast team, you should.

Up Next

The Buckeyes travel to Iowa City to face the Iowa Hawkeyes  (11-10, 3-5) Saturday evening. Tip-off is scheduled for 8:00 pm EST. This will be the only regular season meeting between theses teams. The game can be seen on ESPN2 and/or you can listen to it on 97.1.