Ohio State Defeats Notre Dame, 90-85- In ACC/Big Ten Challenge
Balanced scoring with five in double figures led by E.J. Liddell’s 19 points and 12 rebounds
COLUMBUS, Ohio – No. 20 Ohio State travelled to South Bend, Ind., for a men’s basketball game for the first time in 48 years and handed Notre Dame a 90-85 defeat on the first evening of the 2020 ACC/Big Ten Challenge. Ohio State stays unbeaten on the young season and moves to 4-0 while Notre Dame falls to 1-2.
The Buckeyes trailed for most of the first 30 minutes of the game before mounting a comeback from 11 down, 55-44, with just under 15 minutes to play.
“I am thrilled and proud. Gutted it out is a great way to describe it,” head coach Chris Holtmann said on his post-game radio show on the Ohio State Sports Network. “Our second half performance was special for this group that is still finding its way.
“We played together better, both offensively and defensively, in the half. I thought we played with more force and togetherness, and offensively we were able to make some shots. We dictated things more than in the first half.”
Sophomore E.J. Liddell starred with 17 of his team-high 19 points in the second half. He also led with a game-high 12 rebounds. Senior C.J. Walker, playing less than two hours from his hometown of Indianapolis, expertly broke the press as necessary and hit crucial free throws down the stretch, including four in the final 18 seconds to extend an 86-85 Ohio State lead to the final score. Walker finished with 16 points, including a perfect 8-for-8 showing from the free throw line.
Two Walker free throws gave Ohio State its first lead of the second half, 62-61, and the two teams went through seven ties and lead changes for the next five minutes. Then Musa Jallow, playing his first game since the first game of the season, and Liddell had big baskets and Duane Washington a pair of free throws to help Ohio State to a 75-72 lead with 3:22 to play.
Notre Dame tied the score at 75-all, but Washington hammered home a “three” from the left wing with 2:48 to play to give Ohio State a 78-75 lead and the Buckeyes would not trail again. There were some big moments along the way:
- Leading 78-77, Liddell rebounded and scored off a Walker miss, and then hit the free throw to make it 81-77;
- At 81-80, Justice Sueing drove the lane and scored to put Ohio State back up by three;
- Liddell then grabbed a big defensive rebound and hit a step-back jumper in the lane for an 85-80 lead inside of a minute to play;
- A Sueing free throw in front of a Notre Dame three made it 86-85 with 30 seconds to play; and
- After two Walker free throws made it 88-85, the Buckeyes played terrific defense for 18 seconds before forcing a Notre Dame turnover with a second to play.
Walker then iced it with his final two free throws.
Ohio State got balanced scoring with five players in double figures. Sueing joined Walker with 16 points. Washington had 13 points and Justin Ahrens hit four threes and scored 12 points to help the Buckeyes to a commanding 23-4 advantage in bench points.
Jallow scored seven points and was a force defensively.
“Jallow hardly practiced at all this week,” Holtmann said. “I wasn’t sure he was even going to play. We needed his defensive versatility. I couldn’t take him off the floor. It speaks to how important he may be for the team because of his defensive intangibles and IQ and all of that.”
Ohio State shot 46.8 pct. for the game while Notre Dame, which was led in scoring by Prentiss Hubb with 26 points, shot just over 50 pct. Notre Dame held a 35-32 rebound advantage. Ohio State had just eight turnovers, including only two in the second half.
Ohio State hosts Cleveland State on Sunday at Value City Arena. Tip time is 4 p.m. with the Big Ten Network televising.