It has been a long week for fans of the Ohio State Buckeyes, watching the hoops team play a pretty solid game against Florida just to loss at the buzzer and then what happened on Saturday, which I am not going to mention.
It feels like Buckeye nation might need some positivity on the timeline so let me bring that to you. After Duke defeated Gonzaga on Friday night, the Blue Devils jumped into the top slot in the AP poll this week.
We have some anniversaries coming up as with Duke playing Ohio State today, it marks a decade since the two programs have played each other and three years since Ohio State played the top team in the country. And suffice to say, both of those things are great memories.
Ohio State 80, No. 1 Michigan State 64
The last time Ohio State faced the No. 1 team in the country was one of my personal favorite games ever and the fans introduction to Chris Holtmann. The Buckeyes hosted the Michigan State Spartans during Holtmann’s first season as the head coach, who were ranked as the top team in the country.
The Spartans came in 15-1 overall and 3-0 in the conference. Ohio State was unranked but they were off to a solid start, coming in 12-4 overall and 3-0 in the conference.
This game was all Buckeyes most of the way. With five minutes left in the first half, the score was tied 25-25 and the Buckeyes recorded a 16-4 run to end the half, including a half-court shot by Andrew Dakich that had the arena the loudest I have ever heard it.
In the second half, the Buckeyes did a pretty incredible job of keeping the Spartans at arm’s length through the entirety of the second half and ended up winning with ease, 80-64 over the top ranked team.
Kieta Bates-Diop had his Big Ten player of the year moment, recording 32 points on 12-for-21 shooting, seven rebounds, three steals and a block in 35 minutes of game time. CJ Jackson recorded 14 points, six rebounds and three assists and Jae’Sean Tate added 13 points, three rebounds and three steals.
The weirdest part about this game were the Buckeyes recorded just three bench points and that was the half-court shot from Dakich.
This was a loaded Michigan State team, starting Cassius Winston, Jaren Jackson Jr, Joshua Langford, Nick Ward and Miles Bridges. Ohio State made life hard on Ward and Bridges specifically, as Bridges was 7-for-19 from the field and Ward recorded zero points.
Most people felt that this Ohio State team was decent, but posing as a great team since they were 12-4 and the Spartans would expose them. Sound familiar? The game went the exact opposite way and in a coaching clinic, the Buckeyes exposed all of the weaknesses that the Spartans had that season, including their lack of bench depth.
Ohio State went on to finish 25-9 overall that season and 15-3 in the conference .
No. 2 Ohio State 85, No. 3 Duke 63
In this Duke game, it was a matchup of powerhouses. Now, in all fairness, this was not the last time the two teams faced off, as they played the following year and Duke defeated the Buckeyes, but this date still holds something special.
The last time Ohio State lost to Michigan in football was this season and they played Duke in basketball the following week.
They pummeled the Blue Devils 85-63. As you know the former thing already happened this year so can the ladder follow and put some hope in Buckeye fans hearts? We will see.
Unlike the Michigan State game where it was No. 1 against unranked, this Ohio State team was a known entity and was ranked No. 2 in the country and higher than the No. 3 ranked Blue Devils. Ohio State came into this contest 6-0 and Duke was 7-0. Most people felt these were the two best teams in college basketball early in the season.
The Blue Devils were led by familiar faces Austin Rivers, Seth Curry and Mason and Miles Plumlee while the Buckeyes had the absolutely lethal starting five of Jared Sullinger, Aaron Craft, Lenzelle Smith Jr., Deshaun Thomas and William Buford.
This scoring in this game was handled by the fab four, with Craft, Sullinger, Thomas and Buford handling 76 of the 85 points. Sullinger led the way with 21 points and eight rebounds, Buford added 20 points, five rebounds and four assists, Thomas recorded 18 points and five rebounds and Craft had 17 points and eight assists.
The Buckeyes led 47-28 at the half and like the Michigan State game, never let the talented Blue Devil team back into it. It was a huge win for the Ohio State team and the Buckeyes finished 31-8 and 13-5 that season and went all the way to the Final Four, losing to Kansas.