After suffering their first loss of the season on Monday night to San Diego State, Ohio State recovered to defeat Cincinnati 81-53 in the sixth game of the 2022 Maui Jim Maui Invitational yesterday. The victory over the Bearcats was the fifth straight over their in-state foe, who haven’t beaten the Buckeyes since 1962. The win is the third against Cincinnati for Chris Holtmann at Ohio State, who opened the 2018-19 and 2019-20 seasons with victories over the Bearcats.
Even though Cincinnati played in the late game on Monday, the Bearcats came out firing in the first couple minutes of the game, opening up an 8-2 lead in the first 1:30 of Tuesday’s contest. Ohio State answered with a 9-0 run to take their first lead of the game. The teams traded baskets for most of the first half before Ohio State closed the half with a 12-3 run to take a 38-27 lead into the halftime break. The Buckeyes wouldn’t take their foot off the gas the rest of the way, leading by at least 20 points for most of the second half.
Zed Key had a nice bounce-back game on Tuesday after struggling to find a rhythm on Monday night against San Diego State. Key came into Monday night’s game with double-doubles in each of the first three games of the season, but against the Aztecs he scored just seven points and grabbed three rebounds. The biggest difference from Monday to Tuesday was simply the fact that Key was able to stay on the floor. In Monday’s loss, Key struggled with foul trouble and had to be mindful of that in his 21 minutes on the court, where against the Bearcats he wasn’t the target of whistles from the referees.
While Key was able to get back on track, Monday night’s star had a tough game against Cincinnati. Sean McNeil felt like he couldn’t miss against San Diego State, pouring in 22 points in 31 minutes. The West Virginia transfer had a tough time finding his stroke against the Bearcats, finishing with five points on 2-6 shooting. Even though it’s easy to be frustrated with a cold shooting performance after being on less than 24 hours before, the Buckeyes didn’t need McNeil to make as many shots as they did against San Diego State, where his shooting kept the Aztecs from running away with the game.
Ohio State has been getting some great play from returning starters Zed Key and Justice Sueing, as well as contributions from McNeil and the other transfers. The deep roster has allowed freshmen Bruce Thornton and Brice Sensabaugh to find their legs in the college game without needing them to do too much. The development from Thornton has been evident, as he scored in double figures for the second straight game, finishing with a career-high 17 points on Tuesday.
Sensabaugh has been even better for the Buckeyes, providing a huge lift off the bench. With 17 points against Cincinnati, Sensabaugh has now scored at least 14 points in each of the first five games of the season, and put home 17 points in three of those games. Even more impressive is that the freshman forward from Florida isn’t forcing his shot, shooting at least 50 percent from the field in four of the season’s first five games.
Texas Tech comes into today’s game with a 4-1 record on the season. Much like Ohio State, the Red Raiders won three home games before heading to Maui, beating Northwestern State, Texas Southern, and Louisiana Tech. The Bulldogs were able to give Texas Tech a bit of a challenge in their final game before the Red Raiders came to Maui, trailing Mark Adams’ team by just two before Texas Tech put some distance on them in the 64-55 win in Lubbock last week.
The Red Raiders entered the Maui Invitational ranked 21st in the country, and in their first game in Hawaii they faced the 10th-ranked Creighton Blue Jays. The first half was a back-and-forth affair, as the teams went halftime tied at 31. Creighton was able to create some separation in the second half, opening up an 11-point lead with 11 minutes to play. The Red Raiders were able to briefly get the deficit inside single digits a couple minutes later, but that would be as close as Texas Tech was able to get the rest of the way.
The final score in the first game of the 2022 Maui Invitational saw Creighton beat Texas Tech 76-65. The Red Raiders didn’t play poorly on Monday, the tenth-ranked Blue Jays were just a little bit better. Daniel Batcho scored a team-high 17 points in the game, while each of the other four starters for the Red Raiders scored at least nine points in the loss. Texas Tech had more assists, steals, and fewer turnovers than Creighton, the Blue Jays just hit a few more threes and free throws, which ended up being the main difference in the game.
Texas Tech had a lot easier time on Tuesday when they matched up with a struggling Louisville squad. The Red Raiders erased any doubt in the result early on, outscoring the Cardinals 32-13 in the first half. The big lead allowed for Adams to reach deeper into his bench the rest of the way, which was something he didn’t have the luxury of doing against Creighton. After just four points were scored from their bench on Monday, the Red Raiders got 29 points from their bench against Louisville, including 10 points in 11 minutes from junior guard D’Maurian Williams.
Batcho again had a strong game for Texas Tech on Tuesday, scoring nine points and grabbing 12 rebounds, falling one point shy of recording his second double-double on the season. Batcho scored 12 points and recorded 10 rebounds in the season opener against Northwestern State, which was his first career double-double. The sophomore forward from France has seen his role expand as a sophomore, starting all five games and averaging 24.2 minutes per game after not starting a game and only seeing about 10 minutes of action per game last year.
One name that will be extremely familiar to Ohio State fans in today’s game is Kevin Obanor, who terrorized the Buckeyes in the 2021 NCAA Tournament when he played for Oral Roberts. Obanor scored 30 points and pulled down 11 rebounds in the upset of the Buckeyes, and following the season he the forward transferred to Texas Tech.
Last year Obanor averaged 10 points per game and 5.5 rebounds per contest in 37 games, as the Red Raiders made it to the Sweet Sixteen before losing to Duke. After a strong 2021 NCAA Tournament that earned him interest from Texas Tech, Obanor had another strong tournament last year, notching double-doubles in each of the three games he played before the Red Raiders were eliminated by Duke. The senior led Texas Tech yesterday with 15 points in the blowout of Louisville.
While Obanor and Batcho patrol the front court, Texas Tech has a number of guards they’ll lean heavily on this year. De’Vion Harmon leads the team with 29.3 minutes per game this year, and is averaging 10 points per game this year. Harmon is in his first year with Texas Tech after spending the first two years of his college career at Oklahoma, followed by a season at Oregon last year. Harmon is reaching a career milestone, as he is 22 points away from 1,000 career points.
Another transfer that has seen heavy minutes this year for Texas Tech is Jaylon Tyson. Unlike Harmon, Tyson saw limited action in his first stop, appearing in just eight games for Texas last year. The sophomore has already started five games for the Red Raiders this year, with his best game coming in the 78-54 win over Texas Southern when he scored a career-high 13 points.
Joining Harmon and Tyson are freshman Pop Issacs and North Carolina transfer Kerwin Walton. Issacs has started the first five games of his college career, averaging eight points per game. Walton gives Adams a reliable option off the bench, having spent his first two years at North Carolina. While Walton only started one game for the Tar Heels last year after starting 20 as a freshman, he was a part of a team that made it all the way to the national title game.
Today’s game isn’t going to be for the faint of heart. Much like Monday night’s contest against San Diego State, the Buckeyes are going to have to deal with a lot of physicality, which is a staple of Mark Adams’ teams. Because the Red Raiders don’t have a ton of depth, expect Texas Tech to try and slow the pace down and make it a true half court game. The Buckeyes did a solid job at speeding San Diego State up on Monday night, but Chris Holtmann’s team dug themselves too deep of a hole against a very experienced San Diego State team.
Even in the loss to San Diego State there was a lot to be excited about with this Ohio State team. The Buckeyes also showed they could bounce back quickly, having little trouble with Cincinnati less than 24 hours after the loss to the Aztecs. Texas Tech did get some of their starters some rest with the easy win over Louisville, but Ohio State’s depth should be the difference in this game, as the Buckeyes head back to the mainland with two wins in three games, finishing in fifth place in the Maui Invitational.
Time: 2:30 p.m. ET