Ohio State beat Minnesota, 79-73, in the Big Ten Tournament at the United Center in Chicago on Thursday. The game was tied 35-35 at halftime, but the Buckeyes (23-9, 11-7) used a 10-2 run in the second half to take control of the game.
They’ll play Michigan State (21-10, 12-6) in the quarterfinals Friday at 9 pm.
“The biggest thing with us right now is to play our best basketball,” Ohio State senior guard Shannon Scott said on CBS Sports Radio’s Ferrall on the Bench. “In the tournament, anybody can beat anybody. You can’t (go by) anybody’s previous record. You got to take every game one-by-one.”
Scott and Big Ten Freshman of the Year D’Angelo Russell led the way against Minnesota, finishing with 21 and 23 points, respectively. That duo combined for 44 points, 10 assists, eight rebounds and two steals. Russell added a game-high three blocks, and each shot 6-of-6 from the foul line.
“In late games, we want to have the ball in our hands to shot free throws,” said Scott, whose 21 points were a career-high. “We live for those moments. We make plays as much as we can. We both really (feed) off each other.”
Russell went 0-of-5 from three-point range in the first half but was 3-of-5 in the second. Sophomore forward Marc Loving added 12 points for Ohio State, while senior Sam Thompson scored nine points and had a game-high seven rebounds.
The Buckeyes shot just 5-of-19 (26.3 percent) from outside the arc but 21-of-33 (63.6 percent) inside of it. They also had 17 assists – as compared to Minnesota’s 13 – and out-rebounded the Gophers 35-28.
DeAndre Mathieu scored a team-high 16 points off the bench for Minnesota (18-15, 6-12), which shot 46.7 percent from the floor and 7-of-20 (35 percent) from deep. Guards Andre Hollins and Nate Mason combined to score 22 points, but they needed 27 shots to get there.
Ohio State advances to play the Spartans, who beat the Buckeyes, 59-56, in East Lansing on Valentine’s Day. Michigan State junior guard Denzel Valentine hit a three-pointer with 3.2 seconds left to break a 56-56 tie and give the Spartans the win.
The Buckeyes haven’t forgotten. They want to advance to the Big Ten semifinals, yes, but they also want to exact a little revenge.
“It’s definitely in the back of our heads,” Scott said. “We want to get them back now.”
Scott said the Buckeyes have no fear of the Spartans, who rank fourth in the country in assists per game (17.0) and have three players averaging double figures: Travis Trice (14.8 points per game), Valentine (14.5) and Branden Dawson (11.6).
“We know all those guys,” Scott said. “There’s no reason we can’t (get a win). We know they haven’t played any games here yet, so they have a lot of rest. We just got to be ready for all that.”