Ohio State's losing streak continued tonight after a sloppy second half at Williams Arena led to a 63-53 loss to Minnesota. 10 turnovers in the second half added in with an offense that was pretty much non-existent in the second half was the recipe forThe Buckeyes have now lost three straight games and a 15-0 start is looking like a distant memory. After making late game comebacks to win against Notre Dame and take Michigan State to overtime at the Breslin Center, the Buckeyes have faltered down the stretch in their last two games.
Those that missed the beginning of the first half due to the game being bumped to ESPNews due to the ending of the Missouri/Vanderbilt game, feel lucky. The Buckeyes started off the game cold from the field as they were trying to feel out Minnesota's zone defense. An early encouraging sign from the Buckeyes came from their work on the offensive glass. Lenzelle Smith Jr and Amir Williams scored a couple buckets off offensive rebounds to give the Buckeyes an three-point lead.
Minnesota did the best they could to try and help the Buckeyes build an even bigger lead, committing eight turnovers in the first eight minutes of the basketball game. The Golden Gophers settled down and headed into the under-4 media timeout not only with a 23-21 lead, but with Aaron Craft headed to the bench after picking up his second foul with a questionable charge on the offensive end. The lead was extended and momentum looked to be on the home team's side after a Oto Osenieks put-back of a Elliott Eliason missed free throw resulted in a four-point trip for Minnesota to make the score 27-21.
To Ohio State's credit they immediately answered the challenge by Minnesota, starting with another addition to the Flying Sam Thompson highlight reel. LaQuinton Ross hit a couple baskets in the closing minutes of the first half, including an off-balance runner seconds from the end of the half, to finish with 11 points through twenty minutes of play.Sam Thompson added nine points for an Ohio State team that shot 38% in the half.
Had Minnesota not turned the ball over 10 times in the first half, who knows what their lead could've been. Despite taking eight less shots than the Buckeyes, the Golden Gophers hit 57% of their shots in the first half. The offense of Richard Pitino's team was powered by Elliott Eliason and Deandre Mathieu, who each put in eight points. Neither team found shooting from long distance much to their liking, combining to go 3-14 from behind the arc.
The start of the second half looked like it was a repeat of the end of the first half, with Minnesota jumping out to a two-possession lead early, but the Buckeyes again fighting back to tie the game. The turning point seemed to come after Pitino was assessed a technical foul after an angry outburst following a double-foul was called on Ross and Osenieks. The Golden Gopher student section showed their displeasure in the call by throwing causing a short delay after throwing some water on the court. LaQuinton Ross hit the technical free throw that followed to make the score 39-38 with 13:41 to go, but that would be the last lead that the Buckeyes would hold in the game.
One Minnesota player that responded positively to the technical by Pitino was Maurice Walker. The junior from Scarborough, ON came off the bench to score his only five points in the game during a 45-second stretch to push Minnesota ahead 43-39. Deandre Mathieu added a basket and a free throw before a layup by Aaron Craft ended a 8-0 Golden Gopher run.
The Buckeyes were looking like they might have one last push in them after a Craft save on a ball that was headed out of bounds resulted in a Sam Thompson completing an old-fashioned three-point play to close the gap to 48-45 with 5:44 left the game. The hope for Buckeye fans was short-lived though, as Minnesota capitalized on some extremely sloppy play from the Buckeyes late in the second half. A 13-2 run after the Thompson "and-1" put the final stamp on the game for Minnesota, and clinched Ohio State's first three-game losing streak since 2009.
Only LaQuinton Ross and Sam Thompson hit double-figures in scoring for the Buckeyes, with Ross scoring 22 points and Thompson adding 12 points. Aaron Craft and Shannon Scott did not have an answer for Minnesota's zone defense, combining to commit nine turnovers in the game. As a team in the second half Ohio State committed 10 turnovers, while only hitting seven field goals.
Minnesota did a great job exploiting the lack of size that Ohio State has on the interior, with Elliott Eliason registering a double-double on the evening with 12 points and 13 rebounds. The Golden Gophers out-rebounded Ohio State 37-25 in the game, but by hitting 51% of their shots they didn't give the Buckeyes many chances to grab any boards. Deandre Mathieu was the high-scorer for Minnesota, putting in 13 points to go along with a team-high five assists.
With the team searching desperately for an identity, Ohio State will hit the road again in their next game, taking on Nebraska in Lincoln on Monday night at 7 pm EST. As the Big Ten standings sit now, Ohio State is in danger of losing touch with the conference leaders, sitting three games behind Michigan State. Meanwhile, Minnesota moved to 3-2 in conference play, and now is only two games behind a Michigan State team that they took to overtime in East Lansing on Saturday. Like the Buckeyes, Minnesota will hit the road for their next game, traveling to face #14 Iowa in Iowa City on Sunday afternoon.
|SMITH JR.,LENZELLE *||8||2||2||6||1||1||2||3||9||1||2||1||4||28||-1|