(Image courtesy cleveland.com, game information courtesy ohiostatebuckeyes.com, ESPN.com, stats courtesy of teamrankings.com)

The #22 Buckeyes (17-4, 8-0) worked through a mid-first half sleepwalk to down Minnesota (14-8, 3-6) by the score of 67-49 Saturday afternoon in Madison Square Garden. This was Ohio State’s 7th consecutive win and eleven of their last twelve games since December 1st.

The first half was noted by a series of 4 minute intervals where the teams alternated or expanded scoring runs. The game was evenly enough contested early on with Ohio State holding an 8-7 lead at the 15:00 mark. Things turned quickly for Minnesota as they outscored Ohio State 13-2 over the next four minutes to hold a 20-10 lead at the 11:00 mark. During the next four minutes, Ohio State went on a 13-2 run of their own to regain the lead 23-22. Over the next three minutes, Ohio State extended their lead to 34-22 with an 11-0 run! In the final four minutes of the half, the Gophers outscores the Buckeyes 9-4 to trail 31-38 at the half.

The 2nd half was marked by good defense (maybe) and poor offense (likely). At the midpoint, Ohio State held a 55-40 lead. With Ohio State leading 62-44, a layup by Minnesota’s Amir Coffey at the 2:05 mark was the Gophers’ first field goal in nine and a half minutes! 

The Buckeyes closed out the scoring with a steal and emphatic dunk by Kyle Young, 67-49.

The Buckeyes were led, again, by Kieta Bates-Diop (17 points), Kaleb Wesson (15), C.J. Jackson (11) and Jae’Sean Tate (10).  Kaleb also had 8 rebounds and Tate led the Buckeyes with 5 assists.

The Golden Gophers were was led by Jordan Murphy (13 points), Nate Mason, (11), Amir Coffey (11) and Dupree McBrayer (10). Mason also led the Gophers in rebounding with 9.

Ohio State shot 41% from the field (27-66), an abysmal 20% (4-20) from 3-point range and a torrid 90% from the foul line (9-10).

Minnesota shot 38% from the field (18-47), a horrendous 21% from 3-point range (3-14) and a coin-flip 50% (10-20) from the foul line.

 

What Went Right

The defensive effort, and results, again, were very good. For the season, Minnesota averages 78 PPG. The 49 points they scored against Ohio State was the 2nd lowest output (46 vs Purdue) of the season for the Gophers. Conversely, the 49 points allowed by Ohio State is the 2nd fewest (46 vs Rutgers) this season.

Sticking with defense for a second, Ohio State pretty much shut down the Minnesota offense in the second half, as evidenced by the 9 1/2 minute stretch without a Gopher field goal. They limited Minnesota to 47 FG attempts.

Ohio State was successful in maintaining offensive momentum in the first half with a 24-2 run that spanned over seven minutes.

Ohio State’s defensive fueled offense and inside game worked very well. They outscored Minnesota 12-4 in fast break points, 22-3 in points-off-turnovers and 40-20 of points “in the paint”.

Ohio State also outperformed Minnesota in offensive rebounding, bettering them 12-6. This led to Ohio State outscoring Minnesota in “2nd chance points” 15-3. Ohio State rebounded 31% of their missed FGs while Minnesota did so at a 21% rate.

What Didn’t

Not too much to put in this section.

They did have a six minute span coming down the home stretch stretch where they were held to 3 points. But, they ere nursing a 17-20 points lead, so a little “softness” can be understood.

I mention below, but Kieta, despite his stat line, was somewhere between ‘ordinary’ and ‘you need to sit down’. Fortunately, his team mates picked up the slack, which entering the last few weeks of the season is a good thing.

That’s all I have for now.

Other…

  • During their current win streak, all of Ohio State’s wins have been by double digits.
  • According to teamrankings.com, the Buckeyes are now projected to finish the regular season 24-7 and 15-3 in B1G play. They rank Ohio State as the 17th best team and give them a 99% chance to make the NCAA’s.
  • Despite attaining another double-double with 17 points and 12 rebounds, I didn’t think Kieta was all that good. He got his points on ‘volume’ shooting (7-21, 0-6 3-pt).
  • Kaleb Wesson was very efficient and effective. His 15 points were generated by 7-9 shooting.
  • Jae’Sean Tate overcame poor field goal shooting (2-9) with outstanding free throw shooting (6-7) and a high level of court awareness (team high 5 assists).
  • A large part of Minnesota’s offensive woes were caused by Ohio State’s aggressive defense. They created 15 turnovers and blocked 5 shots.
  • Minnesota’s Jordan Murphy, Nate Mason and Amir Coffey are pretty damn good basketball players.

Up Next

The Buckeyes host Nebraska on Monday evening. Tip-off at VCA is scheduled for 7:00 pm ET.  The game can be seen on BTN and/or you can listen to it on 97.1.

Northwestern (14-7, 5-3) has had a pretty good start to 2018, going 4-2 since January 1st. The Huskers are very competitive this season. Two of their losses were “down to the wire”: a 73-72 loss to Kansas and  76-74 overtime loss to Penn State. In their last game, Thursday, Nebraska used a stifling defense to shut down Michigan, 72-52.

They are averaging 73 points per game while allowing 69 ppg.  They average 36 rebounds and 12 turnovers per game. For comparison, the Buckeyes are scoring 78 and allowing 66. Ohio State averages 37 rebounds and 12 turnovers per game.

The Huskers have three players that average double figures scoring per game. They are James Palmer, Jr (15.8), Isaac Copeland (12.3) and Glynn Watson, Jr (11.7). Copeland leads Nebraska with 6.2 rebounds per game.

Although Jordy Tshminga (6’11”, 268) is averaging only 15 minutes per game, he’s averaging 4.9 rebounds per game. He’s very productive wen he’s on the floor.

Ohio State has four players averaging double figures; Kieta Bates-Diop (19.7), C.J. Jackson (13.1), Jae’Sean Tate (12.4),  and Kaleb Wesson (11.3). KBD also leads the Buckeyes in rebounds with 8.9 per game.