Buckeyes Make Amazing Turnaround to Claim 64-46 Win Over Minnesota
By John Porentas
It would hard to even imagine two more different halves of basketball.
OSU Head Coach Thad Matta said he felt his team just didn't look focused during shoot around and worried that they would not get a good start. Matta's worst fears could not have included what he saw from his team in the first half against Minnesota.
The Gophers (17-11, 6-9) got out to a 7-0 lead that was just a portend of things to come. OSU came back to tie at seven each, but when the half ended the Buckeyes (22-6, 9-6) had a total of 18 points on the board. They had eight turnovers and were shooting 27 percent from the field in a half that could only be described as awful.
"The first have was definitely the worst (half of basketball) that we've played. Coach Matta said that at half time," said OSU forward Sam Thompson.
The Gophers weren't exactly terrific, but they were good enough to hold a 10 point lead at 28-18 at the intermission.
The halftime entertainment included some dude who did stunts on a bicycle. Half time also included some choice words for his team by Matta.
"He was fired up. He wasn't too happy with us at the half time," said Thompson.
He told us " Up to now we haven't come out and just laid an egg, and in the first half we did that," Thompson said.
It was by almost any standard the worst half of the year for OSU. That's what made what followed so incredible.
Minnesota scored the first basket of the second half to go up 12 at 30-18. From that point on however it was a veritable onslaught for the Buckeyes. Ohio State scored the next 17 points in game unanswered to turn a 12 point deficit into a five point lead. The Gophers finally broke the scoring draught with a layup by Joey King, but the carnage then continued when Sam Thompson scored 10-consecutive points for the Buckeyes to put OSU up by 10 at 45-35.
Photo by Jim Davidson
The scoring outburst was fueled by a devastating transition game that earned the Buckeyes easy baskets and open shots. The transition game was made possible by a defense that produced seven steals in the second half after producing none in the first half. That same defense turned Minnesota over a total of nine times in the second half leading to scoring opportunities.
"Second half, very simple. I think we had nine turnovers and they made us pay probably on every single one of them," said Minnesota first-year head coach Rick Pitino Jr.
Thompson ended with a game-high 19 points on 7-12 shooting that included 2-5 from three point range. Lenzelle Smith added 13 and Shannon Scott 10.
The win allows OSU to retain a glimmer of hope of earning a bye in the Big Ten tournament. The Buckeyes have three regular-season games remaining and have six losses. Just ahead of them in the standings are Iowa and Wisconsin each with five losses but four games remaining on their respective schedules. The Hawkeyes and Badgers are currently in line for the last two of the four byes in the conference tournament. Michigan and Michigan State currently have the other two byes and have three losses each. Those two will meet tomorrow with the winner claiming the conference lead.
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