Before the Big Ten Tournament started play this week, the Ohio State basketball team seemed to be getting its act together. Many analysts started saying the Buckeyes might be a team nobody wants to play, to which Buckeye fans rolled their eyes. But now, after two-straight wins in the Big Ten Tournament, including a 73-69 win over Iowa on Thursday, it seems many of those comments were a least a little correct.
Losers of nine straight at one point, OSU found a little something at the end of the regular season, winning two of its last three, and has seemingly carried it over into the postseason.
You never know what will trigger a team so buried in despair to come out of it, but that seems to be where Ohio State is now. The Buckeyes looked more poised on the offensive end, more energetic on the defensive end, and even closed out a gain (gasp!) against the No. 5 seeded Hawkeyes on Wednesday to spring the biggest upset of the Big Ten Tournament to date this year. OSU became just the third 13-seed to advance to the quarterfinals in tournament history.
It wasn’t easy though — these things never really are. There were a ton of lead changes, a slew of momentum swings, and a few more scrapes and floor burns in this one before it was decided. In fact, neither team ever got more than six points removed from the other.
The Buckeyes started out down by a couple of buckets early but were able to grab the lead and head into halftime up by two points. It was much of the same in the second half. The teams see-sawed with the lead throughout much of the second half, but Justice Sueing hit perhaps the biggest shot of the game with the shot clock running down when he nailed a scrambling three-pointer to put OSU up by four points with just under two minutes left for at least a little breathing room late.
From there, it was a little uneasy with some Iowa pressure and struggles handling the ball, but Ohio State was able to hit its free throws down the stretch to seal the win.
— Ohio State Hoops (@OhioStateHoops) March 9, 2023
Bruce Thorton led the Buckeyes with 17 points on 8-of-13 shooting. More importantly, he displayed a veteran presence with the ball, committing just two of OSU’s eight turnovers. Brice Sensabaugh (16 points). Justice Sueing (14 points), and Sean McNeil (13 points) also finished in double figures. Roddy Gayle, Jr. added nine big points in the second half off the bench in some very key spots.
With the win, Ohio State will now move on to the quarterfinals and face No. 4 seed Michigan State. At this point, why not just keep going?