COLUMBUS — No. 16 Ohio State (14-6, 7-4 Big Ten) made just one of its last 12 shots. Rutgers (14-9, 8-5 Big Ten) finished on a 10-0 run to upset the Buckeyes 66-64 in Piscataway on Wednesday night.
After a back and forth game in the first half that featured 10 lead changes and seven ties, the Buckeyes took a five-point lead with 8:30 to go in the game, the largest lead of the night by either team. The game started tilting towards Ohio State as the Buckeyes slowed the tempo and controlled offensively.
Ohio State found its offense in the second half, doing most of the damage from its 3-point shooting. The Buckeyes significantly improved statistically from behind the arc, finishing the game with 10 made 3s on 18 attempts, good for 56 percent. Ohio State maintained its lead, going up eight points after Zed Key knocked down a pair of free throws with 3:48 to play.
Rutgers was plagued by cold shooting as the Buckeyes began to find a way to limit Rutgers’ Geo Baker. At that point, Rutgers had scored only four points since the 10:45 mark. Then, Rutgers’ defense came to life and the Scarlet Knights led by Baker took over an 8-0 run, executing on the other end too.
Rutgers got the lead down to two with just over 1:45 remaining, led by Baker’s efforts. Rutgers’ Caleb McConnell blocked a possession that looked to be a dunk from Malaki Branham. The Scarlet Knights forced the Buckeyes into a shot clock violation after getting no ball movement, giving Rutgers the ball, down two, with 1:20 remaining. Clifford Omoruyi dunked it to tie the game at 64.
Branham had good look on Ohio State’s next possession but came short on a pull up jumper which gave Rutgers the ball again. Rutgers’ main man Baker went in for the shot but was fouled. After making two from the free throw line, Ohio State got the ball back with 15.3 seconds to play, down two. Branham drove the ball in but his shot was blocked by Ron Harper Jr. The Buckeyes got the ball back once again, for one final shot, with 3.2 to play.
The game ending play came on a blocked 3 by Justin Ahrens — blocked by none other than Baker who earned Rutgers its ninth block of the game and the 66-64 win.
Baker led all scorers with 25 points, shooting 9-for-14 from the paint and 3-for-7 from beyond the arc. As a team, Rutgers shot 53 percent from the field as compared to Ohio State’s 40 percent.
Branham led Ohio State in scoring with 19 points while E.J. Liddell contributed a solid 16 points and six rebounds. Key earned himself a double-double with 10 points and 12 rebounds.
This was Ohio State’s fourth road loss of the season.