COLUMBUS, Ohio – No. 18 Ohio State found its footing in the second half and leaned on its defense down the stretch in a 70-45 victory over Minnesota on Tuesday evening at Value City Arena inside the Schottenstein Center.
The Buckeyes keep pace in the race for the Big Ten title as they improve to 16-6 overall and 9-4 in the conference.
The first half wasn’t a work of art for either team. The Buckeyes had eight turnovers and shot just 40 percent as Minnesota led 25-23 at the break. But the Buckeyes shot 57 percent in the second half and limited Minnesota to just 20 points.
E.J. Liddell scored a game-high 16 points to go along with 10 rebounds for his sixth double-double of the season.
Malaki Branham sparked the second half scoring for the Buckeyes with a pair of threes and he finished with 11 points. Jamari Wheeler was 5-of-8 shooting for 13 points to go along with three assists.
Minnesota had a lay-in at the 10:50 mark of the second half to cut the lead to 11, but then missed 10 consecutive shots and had four turnovers before scoring a bucket with just 20 seconds to play. For the game, the Golden Gophers shot just 30.8 percent which was the lowest shooting percentage for a Buckeye opponent this season.
Back-to-back three-pointers by Branham at the start of the second half got the Buckeyes on track offensively and they never looked back. Wheeler followed with a three of his own and a lay-up, giving the Buckeyes a 13-2 run and a 40-29 lead. That was the breathing room they had been looking for all night.
The lead remained in double figures for the rest of the night and the Buckeyes cruised to the 25-point victory.
- E.J. Liddell recorded his sixth double-double of the season and the 10th of his career with 16 points and 10 rebounds.
- Liddell extends his double-figure scoring streak to 33 games
- Jamari Wheeler scored in the double figures for the third time this season and the first time since Jan. 13 at Wisconsin. He finished with 13 points on 3-of-6 shooting from beyond the arc.
- Cedric Russell scored nine points and eclipsed the 1,500-career point mark. He scored 1,409 points at Louisiana and has 92 so far as a Buckeye
- The 45 points allowed were the fewest allowed in a Big Ten game in exactly eight years when the Buckeyes won 48-39 at Illinois on Feb. 15, 2014
- Minnesota shot 30.8 percent (16-of-52), marking the lowest shooting percentage for a Buckeye opponent this season
- Ohio State knocked-down 10 threes, marking the 11th time this season the Buckeyes have made 10 or more threes in a game.
- This was the third consecutive win for the Buckeyes over Minnesota
- Ohio State sweeps the season series with Minnesota, marking the first regular season home-and-home series sweep of the Golden Gophers since 2011
Ohio State remains at home to host Iowa this Saturday at 2:30 p.m. This is the rescheduled date from the postponed game that was originally scheduled for Feb. 3.
COURTESY OSU ATHLETIC COMMUNICATIONS