COLUMBUS, Ohio — Productivity on offense, led by two key players and effective defensive attack gave Ohio State (7-1) its 84-74 win against Minnesota (5-3) at home on Sunday night.
Sophomore point guard Bruce Thornton led Ohio State and scored 26 points, shooting 8-of-12 from the field. Senior forward Jameson Battle contributed 25 points, on 7-of-12 shots from 2 and 4-of-6 from 3. Battle contributed seven rebounds and Thornton had five assists.
Right off the bat, Ohio State came out and punched Minnesota in the mouth. Ohio State started out hot on an 11-0 run, let Minnesota stay involved with a run of its own, but then Ohio State took an 18-point lead on a 14-2 run to make it 30-12 at the under-8 timeout in the first half of play. Ohio State had its largest lead of the first half, leading by 22 points at 42-20.
The Buckeyes never trailed in the game.
For Minnesota head coach Ben Johnson, Ohio State’s start was what made all the difference in setting the tone for the night that ultimately led to Minnesota’s defeat.
“When you put yourself in a hole to begin the game, in league, on the road and against a good team, you expend so much energy just to try to get back in the game,” Johnson said following the game. “The fight was there in the second half, but because of the hole it was just so hard to get off of that hump. We were able to get it close and thankfully make it a game…”
Minnesota gained some momentum in the closing stretch of the first half by going on an 8-0 scoring run, cutting the Buckeyes’ lead to 14. But coming out of the break, Ohio State re-gained its fire and never looked back. From that point on, Minnesota went on small runs to close the gap, but Ohio State’s offense was too much to contain. While Ohio State’s defense was not as consistent in the second half, the Buckeyes made stops when they needed.
When Minnesota looked like they had a chance, Ohio State found a way as a team to rally.
A three-point play by Minnesota cut Ohio State’s lead to six points, with under four minutes remaining in the game. On an assist from Thornton, Battle hit a 3 to make it 75-66. It was Thornton again to make it 78-70 with under two minutes to play. Roddy Gayle Jr. hit a 3 from the corner to bring the lead back up to 11.
Ohio State’s three straight threes on three consecutive possessions sealed the win down the stretch.
The last time Ohio State lost to Minnesota at home was last season’s 70-67 loss on Jan. 12, 2023. Battle was playing for the Golden Gophers that time around.
Minnesota’s junior forward Dawson Garcia led all scorers with 36 points, shooting 12-of-25 and 12-of-14 on free throws. Garcia posed a problem for the Buckeye defense but contributed most of Minnesota’s offense.
The Buckeyes continued its win streak, reaching six consecutive wins, after starting out the season 1-1. Ohio State now moves to 7-1 on the season and will face Miami (Ohio) on Dec. 6.
Photo via Ohio State Department of Athletics.