Road Big Ten matches against Top 25 opponents are supposed to be tough.
In the era of Chris Holtman, Ohio was 1 through 9 in road games versus top 25 opponents from the Big Ten. It was the only victory against Bordeaux in its first season. Usually, they are a challenge.
But it’s not mostly a Saturday at Rutgers Sports Center. Not 17 days after Rutgers Center Miles Johnson called his shot, as he focused on his rematch with Buckies after he mistakenly lost the Scarlett Knights 80-68 in front of them on December 23.
Ohio pounced on Rutgers early, ending the first half 22-4 to lead a 12-point lead as the teams entered the locker room. By the fifth minute of the second half, Buckeyes were 20 points off their lead, and although the Crimson Knights closed the gap to eight points 59 seconds ago, Ohio State secured a 79-68 win.
Moving from a 17-point road loss to Minnesota, Buckeyes improved to 9-3 in the season and 3-3 in the Big Ten.
EJ Liddell (17 points) and Dane Washington Jr. (17 points) led the Ohio State attack, which hit 51 percent of the ground and 10 to 24 from a range of 3 points. Washington was 4 of 8 from behind the arc. Kyle Young added 13 points, Judge Swing 11 points, 10 boards and five assists.
Much of Buckeyes’ success can be attributed to their success on the glass as they held the 43-29 advantage in the recoil division, including nine in the offensive end.
Jimmy Sotos doubled their previous season high of 28 minutes as a start due to injury to CJ Walker’s hand, and acted as a point guard in a free attack header. He scored six points, four assists and three rebounds but was knocked out with less than four minutes remaining, holding his shoulder as he was assisted in the locker room.
Scarlett Knights hit 45 percent of the ground but were 5 out of only 19 from the bow and 5 out of 10 from the spoiled streak. Ohio attempted 28 free throws, making 19 of them.
The game wasn’t always in the hands of Team Buckeyes. At least, not early on Saturday.
Despite Ohio’s 18-13 lead in the first eight and a half minutes, including a stretch that included seven shots at seven possessions, Rutgers began a 10-point run – backed by a four-point game – to pull a five-point lead. That was preceded by Bocayes’ 22-4, causing the match to swing to end the game in favor of Team Al-Trail.
Next: Ohio returns to Columbus for its home rematch with Northwestern at 7 pm on Wednesday. Wildcats beat Buckeyes, 71-70, in Evanston, Illinois, on December 26.
Meechie Johnson Jr. His debut in Ohio after graduating early from Garfield Heights High School and enrolling in college in mid-December. He started training during the past week so his playing time has been set. However, he entered the Saturday game with 11:34 minutes remaining in the first half and played four minutes.
CG Walker and Brahima Diallo sat down, as expected. Walker was diagnosed with a torn ligament in his right hand earlier this week and will be out of service for an indefinite period of time. Diallo is suffering from an MCL sprain and won’t be returning to play anytime soon.
Head coach Chris Holtman, who recently spoke about the possibility of downsizing his role, has not yet done so. All 11 players played on the bench for the first 12 minutes of the match.
It was the second and final match between Ohio State and Rutgers in the regular season. Buckeyes won the first game, 80-68, on December 23 in Columbus.
She entered Ohio today with a record 9-3 versus the Scarlet Knights and the 5-1 mark in the Holtman era.
Kyle Young reached the 500 point mark on Saturday.