COLUMBUS — Survive and advance.
No. 7 seed Ohio State beat No. 10 seed Loyola Chicago 54-41 in the first round of the NCAA Tournament on Friday. Ohio State won with defense and toughness and beat a team who prides themselves on those aspects of the game.
Ohio State took a double-digit lead early in the second half and held it strong for the rest of the game.
The Buckeyes were led by E.J.Liddell, who scored 16 points, was 4-for-9 in the paint, and recorded 10 rebounds. Freshman Malaki Branham contributed 14 points.
In a strong defensive effort, the Buckeye defense held the Ramblers to shooting 27 percent from the field. Missouri Valley Conference defensive player of the year Lucas Williamson scored just four points, shooting 1-for-10 from the field.
Holtmann said after the game it wasn’t a pretty game offensively, but it was a hard-fought win.
After missing the last three games with a concussion, Kyle Young returned for the Buckeyes and his efforts were critical in the win. Young had nine points and seven rebounds. He played for 35 minutes.
Zed Key also returned after missing three of the last four games with an ankle injury.
The Buckeyes will now advance to the Round of 32 and will face the winner of No. 2 seed Villanova and No. 15 Delaware on Sunday in Pittsburgh.