No. 18 Ohio State (16-6, 9-4) managed a season-low 23 points in the first half against Minnesota (12-11, 3-11) and trailed the Gophers 25-23 at the half time break.
The second half was a different story.
Minnesota scored just 22 points in the second half, a season-low for the Gophers, while the Buckeyes were erupting for 47 points to demolish the Gophers and stay in the hunt for the Big Ten regular-season championship.
OSU has been a very good three point shooting team and free throw shooting team this season, but in that woeful first half made just one of eight from three and did not make a single free throw. They also committed an uncharacteristic eight turnovers and had just two assists. In short, it was an awful half offensively. The one saving grace for OSU is that that the Gophers were nearly as bad and couldn’t take advantage of OSU’s ineptitude.
That was true for a half, but the Buckeyes wasted little time in the second half establishing their dominance. OSU opened the second half with a 17-4 run to take an 11 point lead at 40-29. For all intents and purposes, that was the end of the game. The Gophers just didn’t have anything offensively that would allow them to get back into the game. The Buckeyes steadily built the lead through the remainder of the game and established their biggest lead of 27 points late in the second half.
E.J. Liddell led all scorers with 16 points and registered a double-double with 10 rebounds. Jamari Wheeler added 13 points and Malachi Branham 11. Zed Key and Cedric Russell each had nine.
Minnesota was led by Luke Loewe with 12 points and Jamison Battle with 11.
Minnesota shot just 33% from the field in the first half and followed up with an even worse 27.3% in the second half. For the game they shot 30.8% from the field.
By contrast, OSU shot 40.7% from the field in the first half, well below their season average, but then turned it around in the second half when they shot 57.1% from the field to end up at 49.1% for the game.
The win moves Ohio State into fourth place in the Big Ten standings 9-4 in league play. They are actually tied with third place Wisconsin and second place Purdue in the loss column with all three of those teams with four league losses, but Wisconsin has played one more game than OSU and has one more win at 10-4. Purdue has played two more games and has two more wins at 11-4. League-leading Illinois has three losses at 11-3. Michigan State lost at Penn State earlier this evening to drop to 9-5 in league play.
Five of OSU’s remaining seven games are at home where they are undefeated this season, the only team in the Big Ten to have not yet suffered a home loss.
Photo of E.J. Liddell courtesy OhioStateBuckeyes.com