Sandwiched in between two Big Ten games this week, the Ohio State men’s basketball team (8-1, 1-0) welcomed in-state foe Miami (OH) (4-4) to the Schott on Wednesday evening. Calling Wednesday night’s tilt a “trap” game takes away from Ohio State’s MAC foe, but the coaching staff’s ears were certainly perked up for this one.
The Redhawks were fresh off a win against Marshall, and are led by former Xavier head man and Ohio State GA Travis Steele. Miami also shot the three-ball at a 38% clip coming into this game— the second-highest clip in the MAC. Toss in the fact that this game was squeezed in between two seemingly more important games, and you had a recipe for a potential letdown.
Chris Holtmann did not change the starting lineup he’s been using for the entire season, going with sophomores Bruce Thornton, Roddy Gayle, Evana Mahaffey, Felix Okpara and senior forward Jamison Battle.
Travis Steele went with a lineup of Ryan Mabrey, Evan Ipsaro, Darweshi Hunter, Bryson Bultman, and Jaquel Morris.
Miami led 7-6 at the first media timeout that happened 4:04 into the game. The Buckeyes struggled to contain the ball, and Steele was doing a good job drawing up plays to isolate his guys against Battle and Okpara early on. Thanks to a Roddy Gayle steal-and-slam, Ohio State was able to retake the lead, 17-13, by the under-12 timeout.
The story of the first half was Ohio State’s inbility to finish at the rim, but the second-most important stat of the first half was all of the second-chance points the Buckeyes scored over a smaller Miami team. Zed Key, Gayle, Dale Bonner, and Devin Royal all missed point-blank attempts in the first half, but the Buckeyes racked up 15 second-chance points over the first 20 minutes. It grabbed 12 offensive rebounds in the first half alone, and led 39-26 at the halftime break.
As a unit, the Buckeyes shot 38.2% in the first half, which was one of its worst offensive halves of basketball it has played this year so far. Both Thornton (11) and Gayle (12) scored double-digit points in the first half. Hunter had seven points for Miami on 3-7 shooting in the first half, but oddly enough was a team-worst -13 plus/minus for the Redhawks in the opening stanza.
Miami was pretty clearly out-classed in this one, but there was never a point during the game where it felt like Ohio State was going to run them off the floor — nor was there ever a moment where the outcome of this game felt like it might be in doubt. With 8:49 remaining in the game, Battle scored on back-to-back possessions (the second being his first three of the game), giving Ohio State a 63-44 lead — its largest of the game at the time.
Even though it trailed for the first five minutes or so of this game, Ohio State’s offense was steady, even if it was a bit slow to develop. Its defense wasn’t great when Miami was able to slow down and run its sets, but the Buckeyes did force Redhawks into 17 turnovers, which kneecapped their chances at an upset. When the final buzzer sounded, the Buckeyes had wrapped up their seventh consecutive win, 84-64.
Gayle led Ohio State in scoring with 15 points on 4-of-9 shooting over 32 minutes, while also chipping in four rebounds, three assists, and one steal. Five other Buckeyes also scored in double digits, including Zed Key, who had a double-double with 13 points and 10 rebounds. Hunter led Miami with 15 points as well, although he did it on a less than efficient 6-of-16 shooting over 37 minutes.
If you weren’t around tonight to see Ohio State extend its winning streak to seven games (or you don’t have BTN+, which is understandable), here are some key stats and figures that were noteworthy during the Buckeyes’ seventh consecutive win.
How long Miami led to start the game
This isn’t Travis Steele’s first ride on the turnip truck, having coached at Xavier from 2018-2022. The now-second year Miami coach did a good job early on of drawing up sets to isolate his guys against Battle and Okpara, two defenders that Ohio State would prefer not be the ones chasing around ballhandlers. The Redhawks led for the first several minutes in this one, before Gayle’s steal near midcourt and fastbreak slam made it 10-9, 5:30 into the game.
Consecutive points to take the lead back
After Miami got back-to-back back buckets to drop to re-take a 13-12 lead, Bruce Thornton and Zed Key went on a 9-0 run to turn the one-point deficit into an eight-point lead. Over a span of 3:26, Thornton knocked down two free throws and knocked down a three, followed by a dunk from Key followed by a pair of free throws. During that time, Miami missed the three shots they took.
Offensive rebounds in the first half for the Buckeyes
As noted above, Ohio State missed more than a handful of point-blank shots in the first half of this one. The plays that were being called led to open looks, but pretty much everyone chipped in at least one miss for the collective cause. However, the Buckeyes crashed the offensive glass like they hadn’t all season to this point, snagging 12 offensive rebounds in the first half. Key had six of them by himself. Those second-chance points were a big difference maker, since Ohio State wasn’t exactly lights-out from distance (3-10 in the first half) either.
Technical foul for Travis Steele
With Ohio State leading 44-33 just over minutes into the second half, Miami’s Evan Ipsaro drove to the basket but was fouled by Okpara as he went up. No foul was called, however, so after Mahaffey scored at the other end to put OSU up 13, Steele took an opportunity to call a timeout and discuss the no-call with the officials.
Unsuprisingly, the zebras weren’t too appreciative of Steele’s feedback, and he was slapped with a technical foul. Battle knocked down both free throws to push Ohio State’s lead to 13 points with over 17 minutes left in the game.
Scuffles in the second half
With 14:46 left in the game, Ipsaro was trying to get free of Scotty Middleton to recieve an inbounds pass, but Middleton was leaning on him and preventing him from getting free, while also putting his hands high in the air to say “I’m not touching you.” Ipsaro tried to shove through him, and the two had words for each other until a ref separated the two of them. To Ipsaro’s credit, he did go down to the other end and score on Middleton 10 seconds later.
Then, 28 seconds later, Ryan Mabrey unintentionally tripped Gayle on a long inbounds play, sending the sophomore sliding to the ground in an awkward position. The two had words, and both teams ran over. After a mostly uneventful shouting match, the squads separated and nothing came of it.
Not even two minutes after that, Ipsaro slapped the ball away from Key below the basket on a layup attempt, and both teams were immediately on the ground grabbing for it. Key and Thornton were two of the last guys on the pile. During the pileup, Key and Hunter got into it, and both were assessed technical fouls. The call, ultimately, was a jump ball, with the possession arrow pointing to the Redhawks.
Buckeyes in double digits
Despite this game being a slower developing one from an offensive standpoint, Ohio State still wound up scoring 84 points, with six guys in double digits. Gayle led the Buckeyes with 15, but five other guys also scored 10 or more points:
- Thornton - 14 points, two assists, two steals (29 minutes)
- Battle - 13 points, three assists, two rebounds (25 minutes)
- Key - 13 points, 10 rebounds, four assists (22 minutes)
- Bonner - 11 points, three rebounds, one assist (19 minutes)
- Evan Mahaffey - 10 points, four rebounds, two steals, one block (22 minutes)
Ohio State (8-1, 1-0) has a quick turnaround, as it travels to Penn State (4-4) on Saturday for its second Big Ten game of the season. The Nittany Lions are now led by Mike Rhoades, who took over the program after Micah Shrewsberry took the Notre Dame job. Penn State has the lowest KenPom rank of any Big Ten team this year, at No. 129.
Ohio State’s game against Penn State will tip off at 6:00 p.m. and will be broadcast on Big Ten Network.