COLUMBUS – A 22-4 first half run for Ohio State that extended into the second half was all the difference. Ohio State dominated No. 15 Rutgers 79-68 at the Rutgers Athletic Center on Saturday to sweep the regular-season series against the Scarlet Knights.
The Buckeyes got their first Big Ten top-25 road win since facing Purdue in the 2017-18 season. Coming back from a 17-point loss at Minnesota, Ohio State improves to 9-3 on the year and 3-3 in conference play. Rutgers falls to 7-4 overall and 3-4 in the Big Ten.
Ohio State came out with a lot of energy led by a pair of 3s from guard Jimmy Sotos, and led Rutgers 16-11 at the under-16 timeout scoring on seven straight possessions.
Following this stretch, the Buckeye offense missed five of its next six shots, committed three turnovers, and Rutgers responded with a 10-0 run.
Ohio State answered with a 13-0 run of its own to take a 33-26 lead in the first half and extended that run to 22-4 to close the half. The Buckeyes held Rutgers scoreless for over four minutes.
Ohio State played arguably its best half of the season. At halftime, the Buckeyes were leading the Scarlet Knights 42-30 and had a rebounding advantage of 22-11. By the end of the game, the Buckeyes out-rebounded Rutgers 43-29.
Jimmy Sotos started his second game as a Buckeye in place of guard C.J. Walker who is out indefinitely with torn ligaments in his thumb. He set a season-high in minutes with 28 in this game. His previous high was been 14 minutes. Sotos was injured diving on the floor with four minutes remaining in the game and Justin Ahrens came in the game to replace him.
Sotos’ 3-pointer was the first score of the game by either team, two minutes into the game. Entering the game, Sotos was 0 for 5 from three in Big Ten play. He finished the game with six points, four rebounds, and three assists.
Rutgers was expected to come out of the second half with a fire to get back into the game. Instead, it was Ohio State who extended its scoring run to 32-6 coming out of halftime.
Duane Washington Jr. hit a turnaround three to push the Buckeyes ahead 20 points and he Scarlet and Gray went on a 10-2 to open the second half.
Rutgers made a bit of a comeback late in the second half, but it was too little too late.
Rutgers was giving Ohio State full-court pressure with few minutes left in the game and the Buckeyes struggled to make plays with no point guard on the court. The Buckeyes slowed down offensively and the Scarlet Knights went on a 12-2 scoring run over five minutes that cut Ohio State’s lead to 10 points with under four minutes remaining in the game.
The Buckeyes shined offensively, shooting 51 percent, 25-of-49 from the floor and 10-of-24 from 3-point range. The Buckeyes shot 14-of-26, or 53.8 percent from the paint and 6-of-12 from behind the arc in the first half.
Washington Jr. and E.J. Liddell led Ohio State with 17 points each. Both Washington Jr. and Liddell had career-high games against Rutgers in December, scoring 22 and 21 points respectively. With his first bucket in the game, Kyle Young reached 500 career points. He finished the game with 13 points and five rebounds.
Justice Sueing had his first double-double as a Buckeye, scoring 12 points and 10 rebounds. He also added five assists.
Rutgers’ Jacob Young led all scorers with 19 points.
Freshman Meechie Johnson, who joined the Buckeyes in December, made his debut as a Buckeye.
Ohio State comes home for rematch with Northwestern at 7 p.m. on Wednesday. The Buckeyes lost to the Wildcats on the road 71-70 in December.
Final stats from Ohio State’s 79-68 win at No. 15 Rutgers. pic.twitter.com/bRRXNKbKVd
— Caroline Rice (@carolinerice19) January 9, 2021
[Photo via Ohio State Hoops Twitter.]