It wasn’t the most convincing victory by any stretch of the imagination, but Ohio State was finally able to get off the schneid with a win over Minnesota on Thursday afternoon. The Buckeyes scored the first 13 points of the contest and led wire-to-wire, but as has been the case many a time this season, Chris Holtmann’s team got a bit too comfortable at the end and allowed the Golden Gophers to make things more interesting than they should have been in the closing seconds.
Leading by 14 points with a little over two minutes remaining, it seemed as though Ohio State would cruise to a victory in its Big Ten Tournament opener. However, that is when the real Marcus Carr finally showed up. A pair of free throws and back-to-back jumpers by Minnesota’s leading scorer had the deficit down to seven, and after a few Ohio State turnovers and missed free throws, the Gophers trailed by just four points with 37 seconds remaining. With 15 seconds to go, Carr drilled another three-pointer to make it a one-point affair, and it took a pair of E.J. Liddell free throws to finally ice the game.
Ohio State played well in general on Thursday, as five different Buckeyes finished in double-figures led by Justice Sueing and Duane Washington Jr.’s 16 points apiece, but if the team wanted to keep the good times rolling on Friday, they would have to clean things up in a few areas. Ohio State turned the ball over 15 times against the Gophers — just one shy of their season-high. They also allowed 16 offensive rebounds which led to 20 second-chance points for Minnesota, something they certainly would not be able to afford against Trevion Williams and the Boilermakers in the quarterfinal matchup.
The Buckeyes have already played this Purdue team twice this year, losing both contests. Ohio State was able to avenge one of its regular season losses by defeating Minnesota the last time out, so could they make it two in a row with a win over Matt Painter’s squad?
For the second-straight day, Ohio State built up a big lead only to see it come crashing down in the second half. Despite leading by 18 at one point in the afternoon, the Buckeyes completely collapsed in the second period as Purdue stormed back and eventually forced overtime. Luckily, Holtmann’s guys were able to hang on in the extra frame, coming away with a 87-78 victory in a sweat-it-out affair in Indianapolis.
The Buckeyes were led on the scoreboard by Duane Washington Jr.’s 20 points, but were really buoyed by Kyle Young. The forward tied a career-high with 18 points before leaving the game early in the second half with an apparent concussion, and was a huge factor in the team getting out to such a big lead early on with his surprising three-point shooting performance. Ohio State had five players finish in double-figures, including 17 points from E.J. Liddell and 12 from Seth Towns, who came up with some clutch shots in overtime.
After out-scoring Purdue 49-31 in the first half, Ohio State was beaten 41-23 in the second half. The entire game was completely flipped on its head from period to period, as the Buckeyes out-rebounded the Boilermakers 21-13 through the first 20 minutes but got beat on the boards 21-14 in the latter 20 minutes without Young on the floor. Fouls were also an issue as Ohio State battled inside, with Liddell and Justice Sueing both fouling out before the final whistle.
Extending his range
One of the unsung heroes of yesterday’s victory against the Gophers was Kyle Young. The senior forward was his usual high-energy self, providing a spark for Ohio State at both ends as he finished with 11 points, six rebounds and two assists. Defensively, he came away with a steal and a block while being an important part of the Buckeyes’ interior presence. Young’s numbers have gotten better each year in Columbus, and this season he has added a new wrinkle to his game: the three-point shot.
Through his first three seasons at Ohio State, Young had never hit on greater than a 16.7% clip from beyond the arc, attempting less than half an attempt from deep per game. This season he put a bit more emphasis on that facet of his game, as Young knocked down 36% of his attempts from downtown while attempting a full shot per game from outside. However, Friday afternoon was something entirely different, as Young all of the sudden became a three-point sniper.
Scoring 11 of Ohio State’s first 13 points, Young drilled his first three attempts from range to give the Buckeyes a 13-10 lead coming out of the first media timeout. Not known for his shooting prowess, Purdue was daring Young to shoot from outside, and he was making them pay early on. In fact, Young was the only player in scarlet able to hit from beyond the arc, as Ohio State began the afternoon 3-of-8 from three-point range.
Only five-plus minutes into this one, and Kyle Young has three treys. pic.twitter.com/1St3TON796— Big Ten Network (@BigTenNetwork) March 12, 2021
We’ve talked all season about how Ohio State is a very undersized team — especially when going up against an opponent with the height of Purdue. The Buckeyes’ two starting forwards, E.J. Liddell and Kyle Young, are just 6-foot-7 and 6-foot-8, respectively. Compare that to the Boilermakers, whose lineup features both 7-foot-4 Zach Edey and 6-foot-10 Trevion Williams, and you would think that Ohio State would be getting absolutely dominated in the paint at both ends of the floor.
That was not at all the case, at least early on during Friday’s game. Kyle Young was able to parlay his hot shooting outside into an overall impressive offensive performance in the first period, scoring 15 of the team’s first 28 points with still over six minutes to go until the break. Liddell, while not scoring at quite his usual rate in the opening half, was doing a tremendous job defending Williams underneath the rim while also finding open teammates on offense with a team-high four dimes in the period.
As a team, Ohio State was surprisingly able to out-rebound Purdue 21-13 through the game’s opening half. Unlike previous matchups against the Boilermakers, the Buckeyes were doing a much better job at both defending the paint and scoring around the rim.
If it’s three, it’s for me
Ohio State was uncharacteristically quiet from downtown last time out against Minnesota. As a team, the Buckeyes attempted a season-low 12 shots from beyond the arc, knocking down four of them to hit near their season average of 36%. A big reason for this was the success they were having attacking the paint against the Gophers without their starting center Liam Robbins, but it was still odd to see one of the best three-point shooting teams in the Big Ten not attempt to fill it up from range.
That was not the case against Purdue, as Ohio State looked to hit the three-point shot early and often. Attempting 17 triples in the first half alone, the Buckeyes hit on eight of them — good for an impressive 47% from beyond the arc. Holtmann’s guys were especially prolific from downtown in the closing minutes of the opening period, helping to extend their lead over the Boilermakers with a trio of triples from Duane Washington Jr. and one final three-pointer from Young to tie his career-high of 18 points in just 20 minutes of action.
As a result of the hot shooting and a commitment to stopping Trevion Williams, who went into halftime with just four points on 2-of-7 shooting, Ohio State headed into the locker room with a 49-31 lead.
Is it really an Ohio State basketball game if they don't get out to a large first-half lead only to make you sweat it out in the second half?
Purdue started out the second period as well as they could ask, scoring six-straight points to open things up thanks to a hook-and-hold call against Liddell. The Buckeyes were able to stem the tide with back-to-back makes by Washington and Liddell, but that is when Boilermaker guard Jaden Ivey came alive. The freshman drilled three-straight three-pointers, all of which came from a few steps beyond the arc, as Purdue was able to cut the Ohio State lead to 10.
It was Ivey, if you remember, who drained a clutch three-pointer with five seconds remaining the last time these two teams played to sink the Buckeyes. Trying to avoid a repeat of that performance, Holtmann would have to get his guys to do a better job of closing out on the hot hand.
Ohio State suffered a huge setback in the second half when leading scorer Kyle Young exited the game with what looked like a concussion. An inadvertent elbow from Trevion Williams hit Young square in the side of the head, and the Buckeye forward was clearly shaken up. He would head to the sideline to speak with the trainers for a while before going back into the locker room.
Young had previously missed the Michigan State game towards the end of the season with a concussion, and we will have to wait for an official diagnosis before we know his status moving forward. He did not return to Friday’s game against Purdue, which left the Ohio State offense scrambling for a good stretch of time as well as severely hampering their interior presence at the defensive end of the floor.
Almost immediately after Young left the court, the Buckeyes went on to miss nine of their next 10 field goal attempts, not hitting a single shot from the field for a stretch of 7:29. As a result, their once 18-point lead was cut to just eight points with still 7:51 left to play.
In what felt like a bad deja vu experience, Ohio State for the second time in as many days let a large lead slip away in tremendous fashion. Once again, the Buckeyes turned the second half into an incredibly unnecessary nail biter and did almost nothing to instill much confidence they would actually hold on to the lead, which they did not as the game would find its way into overtime.
Ohio State was nothing short of dreadful in the second period, and while they nearly threw the game away on Thursday but ultimately deserved to win in the end, I don't think you can say the same for this one. The Buckeyes shot 6-of-26 from the floor over latter 20 minutes, including a 1-of-11 mark from beyond the arc. Without Kyle Young, Ohio State was out-rebounded 21-14 in the half, and were outscored by Purdue 41-23 overall.
With the game tied at 70-70 with 23 seconds remaining, Sueing knocked down a pair of clutch free throws to put Ohio State up by two. Purdue got the ball back with a chance to take the final shot to either tie or win the game, and for about the 100th time in a row Trevion Williams scored at the other end as it was again a tie ballgame. The Buckeyes would get one final shot with nine seconds to play, but they simply turned it over as Ohio State failed to hit a single field goal for the final five-plus minutes of action.
Seth Towns came up huge in the overtime period, drilling a wide open three-pointer followed by a pull-up midrange bucket. Liddell fouled out with two minutes to go, giving Williams two free throws and cutting the OSU lead to two, but Washington Jr. hit a massive three-pointer to put the Buckeyes up by six with a little over a minute left. After a less-than-stellar second period, Ohio State opened up the overtime period hitting on each of its first four shots.
From there they would be able to hold the Boilermakers at bay, defeating Painter’s team for the first time in three tries. It wasn’t the most convincing victory on the planet, but a win is a win, and Ohio State will now advance to the Big Ten semifinals, where they will take on Michigan.