COLUMBUS, Ohio — The Ohio State men’s basketball team beat Rutgers 70-64 on Wednesday night to pick up its second straight win.
With the victory, the Buckeyes advance to 15-10 on the season and 5-7 in Big Ten play. The Scarlet Knights, meanwhile, fall to 13-12 overall and remain in last place in the conference with a Big Ten record of 2-10.
How it happened
After playing to a 10-10 tie through the game’s opening 6 minutes, Ohio State utilized a 10-2 run to gain separation on the Scarlet Knights in the opening half. The Buckeyes stretched their first-half lead to 11 points on a Micah Potter dunk at the 6:11 mark before taking a 33-27 advantage into the locker room at halftime.
Ohio State would then open the second half on an 8-2 run, sparked by a C.J. Jackson 3-pointer at the 17:20 mark of the second half. Rutgers then made a run of its own, topping off a 12-4 scoring stretch with a Shaquille Doorson layup to trim the Buckeyes’ lead to 45-41 with 12:53 left in the game.
Ohio State briefly pushed its lead back to 7, but the Scarlet Knights would answer back and tie the game at 50 on a Mike Williams jumper with 9:31 remaining in the game.
After a Trevor Thompson layup gave the Buckeyes a 56-53 lead, Rutgers responded with a Deshawn Freeman layup to keep OSU’s advantage at just a single point. Kam Williams proceeded to stretch Ohio State’s lead to 5 with his own 6-2 run over the course of a 45 seconds, before the Scarlet Knights trimmed the Buckeyes’ lead to 3 on a C.J. Gettys layup at the 3:55 mark.
The two teams would remaining scoreless for the ensuing 1:35 before Freeman split a pair of free throws at the 2:20 mark to cut Ohio State’s advantage to 62-60. Rutgers would proceed to tie the game with 1:19 left in the game when a Williams steal on an inbound pass would led to an Issa Thiam tip-in.
The Buckeyes, however, had one more trick up their sleeve as Kam Williams was fouled while making a 3-pointer on the ensuing possession and converted the 4-point play. From there, Ohio State closed the game out at the charity stripe.
What it means for Ohio State basketball
Wednesday’s victory marks just the second time that the Buckeyes have won consecutive games since Big Ten play started on Jan. 1. Ohio State is still yet to have won more than two games in a row in conference play this season.
After entering Wednesday’s contest ranked No. 60 on noted analytics site KenPom.com, a win against the Big Ten’s last-place team is unlikely to move the Buckeyes any closer to the bubble of the NCAA Tournament field. But Ohio State did what it needed to do against the Scarlet Knights, which will make the games against quality opponents that do remain on its schedule potentially all the more impactful when it comes to bolstering the Buckeyes’ postseason resume.
Williams led Ohio State with 23 points on 8-of-15 shooting. He was joined in double-digit scoring by Tate (11) and Thompson (15), who also pulled down 13 rebounds to record his ninth double-double of the season.
JaQuan Lyle’s scoring slump continued on Wednesday as the sophomore guard scored just 2 points on 0-of-3 shooting in just 16 minutes of action. He has now failed to reach double-digit scoring in each of the Buckeyes’ last three games.
What’s next for Ohio State basketball
The Buckeyes will return to action Saturday, when they head to College Park for a 4 p.m. ET tipoff with No. 21 Maryland (20-4, 8-3 Big Ten).
In its first tilt with the Terrapins this season on Jan. 31, Ohio State fell to Maryland 77-71 in Columbus. Since then, the Terrapins have lost their last two games, contests against Purdue and Penn State.
The game Saturday will be televised nationally on ESPN.