Ron Harper Jr. is one of the best players in the Big Ten this season, and Ohio State got their shot at containing him. Harper entered the game averaging over 20 PPG while shooting over 60% from the field. Harper went for 20 points again, this time shooting just 8-20 from the field (40%). The Buckeyes started off with another slow start in the first half against Rutgers, but then a second half explosion by the Buckeyes caught the Scarlet Knights slipping, and the Buckeyes prevailed 80-68 at home in the huge upset win.
With 12 minutes left and trailing 55-43 — the Buckeyes went on a 37-13 run with a tenacious defense and an aggressive offense.
Duane Washington Jr. had himself a game. Washington finished with 22 points (6-14 shooting, 4-11 from three, 6-7 from the free-throw line), and had a massive second half to lead the Buckeyes. EJ Liddell contributed 21 points for the Buckeyes (8-14 shooting, 5-7 from the free-throw line), and KYLE YOUNG had the best offensive game of his career. Young finished with an impressive and dominating double-double of 17 points (7-9 shooting, 3-4 from the free-throw line) and 12 rebounds for the Buckeyes.
All three starters carried the Buckeyes offense, with impressive efficiency on high volume. Musa Jallow contributed 8 points (2-4 shooting, 4-5 from the free-throw line) off the bench, and Seth Towns had four points with four rebounds in his second appearance for the Buckeyes. Justin Sueing was uncharacteristically quiet, with just two points, hitting both of his free throws, and taking just three shots all game.
The Buckeyes shot nearly 47% from the field (27-58), but just 21% from three (4-19). However, the Buckeyes got to the free-throw line time and time again, shooting 76% for the game (22-29). Rutgers only managed to shoot 10-17 from the line, which proved to be a pivotal difference in the game. Rutgers did hit 10 threes, but they were 9-20 in the first half from three, so they managed just 1 for 5 in the second half. Ohio State also grabbed 45 rebounds, in comparison to the subpar 25 from Rutgers. A rebounding difference of 20 tends to almost be a guaranteed win. Both teams took care of the ball, with Ohio State having just 11 turnovers to Rutgers’ 9.
This is a huge win moving forward! It is a big momentum-swinging game for potentially the entire season and the Big Ten conference play. Rutgers will get a chance at redemption down the road since these two are scheduled to play again. However, the Buckeyes cannot let their foot off the gas pedal now. They continue Big Ten play when they travel to face upset hungry Northwestern after Christmas, who are coming off of a stunning double-digit upset of Michigan State and a 74-67 upset win over Indiana.
Next Game: 12/26 at Northwestern (2:00 PM)