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Clemson defeats Ohio State in ACC-Big Ten Challenge, 79-65

The Buckeyes led by as many as 13, but the Tigers roared back.

NCAA Basketball: Clemson at Ohio State Joe Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports

The Ohio State Buckeyes faced the Clemson Tigers in a Big Ten-ACC Challenge contest on Wednesday night. However, the basketball Buckeyes couldn’t avenge the football team’s Fiesta Bowl loss. The Tigers beat the Bucks, 79-65.

Keita Bates-Diop led the Buckeyes in two categories: scoring and rebounds. On the night, the forward scored 21 points on 7-of-18 shooting, and recorded seven rebounds. Kaleb Wesson wasn’t too far behind Bates-Diop, scoring 15 points against the Tigers.

At one point in the first half, the Buckeyes led by as many as 13 points. But a shooting slump and turnovers mixed with Clemson nailing three pointers—meaning the Bucks were in trouble as this one went final.

The Tigers had four players hit double figures in Columbus. Marcquise Reed led all scorers with 22 points. Shelton Mitchell put up 19 points, and led the team in the assist category with six. Elijah Thomas scored 11, and led the Tigers in rebounds with eight. Donte Grantham rounded out the double-figure scorers with 11 points, too.

As mentioned, turnovers were a factor in the Buckeyes’ loss. Fourteen OSU turnovers led to 23 Clemson points, while 11 Tiger turnovers were only converted into 15 Buckeye points.

Clemson also led the steals and block margins, getting five and six, respectively. Both teams ended the night with the same amount of rebounds: 30.

The Big Ten hasn’t been doing too well in the Big Ten-ACC Challenge. Entering the evening, the Big Ten was trailing 6-1, with the only win being Purdue over Louisville on Tuesday night.

Ohio State now falls to 5-3 on the year. It’s now the second game in a row that the Buckeyes have lost after they held a lead of at least 10 points.

Let’s take a look at how this one went down.

Out of the gates, Shelton Mitchell popped a three-pointer from the corner to give the Tigers an early 3-0 lead. However, the Buckeyes would answer back with a three of their own, courtesy of Keita Bates-Diop. In fact, the first eight points of the game for OSU were scored by the Normal, Ill. native. By the time the under-16 minute media timeout arrived, the Scarlet and Gray were out in front, 13-7.

Bates-Diop was having a field day early. When the Buckeyes went up 19-9, the forward was responsible for 10 of the team’s points. However, he wasn’t the only one getting buckets; Kyle Young had five points, and Kaleb Wesson had four points to get the Buckeyes up to their early double-digit lead.

Clemson clawed their way back though, courtesy of a banked-in three-pointer from Amir Simms—and a scoring drought from OSU. Simms also nailed a triple from the far corner, bringing the Tigers within five, 24-19, at the 9:14 mark in the first half.

Costly turnovers proved to be a problem for OSU yet again. A shot-clock violation led to a layup for Mitchell, and helped contribute to a 10-0 run for Clemson. On the next possession Jae’Sean Tate travelled with the ball, and just like that, the Buckeyes’ lead was down to three, 24-21, by the time the under-8 media timeout arrived.

Missed shots all around kept the score 27-21 in favor of the Buckeyes for a few minutes. Clemson went over three minutes without a point; Ohio State went on a 1-for-11 shooting stretch.

Breaking up the scoring drought was Andrew Dakich, who buried a deep three over Gabe Devoe. Mitchell and Marcquise Reed—who got the ball from Donte Grantham via a bullet pass—put in back-to-back layups to cut the Buckeyes’ lead to 30-25 at the under-4 minute timeout.

C.J. Jackson then got in on the scoring by hitting a three pointer. But more turnovers by the Buckeyes let the Tigers continue to hang around. On one turnover, Grantham scored in transition by slamming the ball into the net. A missed shot led to a Mitchell three in transition, bringing the score to 34-30 Buckeyes with under a minute left.

Getting the final bucket of the half was Wesson, who popped in a three-pointer to give the Bucks some breathing room entering halftime. Clemson would call a timeout with 13 seconds left—attempting to get one last score in before the break. However, two quick fouls by Tate and Musa Jallow, followed up by a foul on what appeared to be a three-point shot (which was also on Jallow) brought the officials into a huddle with 1.3 seconds left in the half. After ruling that Reed, the three-point shooter, wasn’t in the act of shooting, the Tigers were forced to inbound the ball. They did, but a quick shot fell woefully short of the basket.

With that, Ohio State led Clemson 37-30 at the break.

The Buckeyes shot 45 percent (14-of-31) from the field; Clemson shot 48 percent, hitting 12 of their 25 baskets. Clemson had nine turnovers to Ohio State’s five, but the Bucks only had a nine to six advantage on points off turnovers.

Bates-Diop led the Scarlet and Gray in points (13) and rebounds (4). Tate led in the assists category with four. Clemson’s leaders at the half were Mitchell with 10 points, Reed with four rebounds, and Grantham with three assists.

Coming back after halftime, the Tigers stayed close with the Buckeyes. Devoe hit a jumper and a three-pointer, en route to keeping the Buckeyes led to 44-37 by the under-16 mark. Jallow and Grantham then traded threes, allowing the Tigers to keep this game within single digits.

A Mitchell layup and an Elijah Thomas hook shot on the inside made it a three point game, 47-44. A foul on Thomas sent Wesson to the line—taking us to a timeout.

Wesson buried both free throws, propelling the Bucks lead to five, 49-44. Bates-Diop blocked a shot on Clemson’s ensuing possession, leading to a Tate two-pointer.

An errant pass led to Mitchell one-hand slamming the ball, cutting the Buckeye lead to 51-47. By the time the next media timeout arrived, the Bucks clinged to a 53-51 lead.

Now with under 12 minutes remaining, a momentum shifting play occurred: Wesson drove to the lane for a dunk, but was rejected by Simms. Clemson went down and got a jumper—sparking a 9-0 scoring run, coinciding with an OSU 2:30-plus scoring slump.

At the 9:58 point of the second half, Clemson controlled the game with a 58-53 lead. A turnover by Tate at the 8:10 point of the half led to a Mitchell three, giving the Tigers a 64-56 lead with 7:40 remaining. A big reason for Clemson’s lead happening: they hit seven straight buckets.

Clemson went on another run—this time it was 6-0—and pulled up to a 70-61 lead with under 4:40 remaining in the game.

The Buckeyes had quality attempts, but the ball just would not drop into the basket. Wesson had a layup the skimmed the rim, but fell out. Mitchell went down on the other end and knocked down a layup, pushing the lead out to nine, 72-63, with under 2:20 to play. Jackson then missed a free throw for OSU—adding to the scoring troubles.

Reed put the period to the game with an open three in the far corner, propelling the Tigers to their biggest lead of the night. Up 12, the Tigers ran out the final 1:27, securing another win for the ACC.

Up next for Ohio State is Big Ten conference foe Wisconsin. They’ll play in Madison, Wis., on Saturday evening at 5 p.m. ET. Fox will broadcast the game. Right after the basketball showdown, the Buckeyes and Badgers will have a football showdown at 8 p.m. ET (also on Fox) for the Big Ten Championship.