Ohio State entered Thursday’s game in desperate need of a win following a streak of five losses in its last six games. Instead, the Buckeyes were left further searching for answers as the final buzzer sounded on a 62-59 loss to Minnesota.
Kyle Young led Ohio State with 14 points and six rebounds in the loss, and Duane Washington Jr. added 12 points.
For a half, Ohio State appeared poised to get back in the win column and avenge its Jan. 23 road loss to Minnesota. After committing 10 turnovers through the first 10 minutes of the half, the Buckeyes began to take much better care of the basketball and, with better ball security, were able to build a lead.
Freshman point guard D.J. Carton’s three-pointer with 2:34 left in the first half increased Ohio State’s lead to eight points at 33-25.
A pair of the free throws by Luther Muhammad on the next possession increased the Buckeyes’ lead to 10 points with two minutes remaining in the first half, their largest lead of the game.
Following a made three-pointer by Minnesota’s Gabe Kalscheur, C.J. Walker’s jumper as time expired sent Ohio State into the locker room with a nine-point advantage over the Gophers.
Ohio State shot 50 percent in the first half on 11-for-22 shooting, including four of nine from the three-point line. Defensively, the Buckeyes held the Gophers to just 37-percent shooting.
The good vibes built in the first half were short-lived, however, as Ohio State opened the second half ice-cold, missing on nine of its first 11 attempts and watching the lead evaporate quickly. A layup by Minnesota’s Payton Willis at the 12:32 mark cut the Ohio State lead to a single point at 42-41.
Ohio State would maintain its slim lead over the next five minutes until a layup by Minnesota’s Marcus Carr gave the Gophers their first lead since midway through the first half.
The lead changed hands five times over the next 6:43 capped by Young’s dunk with 1:47 remaining in the game to tie the score at 57-57, setting up a frantic final minute and, ultimately, a devastating loss for the Buckeyes.
Young followed up his dunk with a layup on Ohio State’s next possession, sending Value City Arena into a frenzy and giving the Buckeyes a two-point lead with just over a minute to play.
But like he did last month in Minneapolis when erupting for a career-high 35 points against the Buckeyes, Carr was again primed to deliver more crushing blows to Ohio State. His tough finish tied the game at 59 with 43 seconds remaining, and following an Ohio State miss, the ball was back in his hands as the clock dwindled down.
With three seconds remaining, Carr pulled up and drilled a contested three to give Minnesota the three-point lead with just a few seconds remaining, stunning the crowd inside the Schottenstein Center and sending the Buckeyes’ season to even lower depths.
Carr finished with 21 points to lead Minnesota.
Following the game, both coach Chris Holtmann and Ohio State players said they felt like the effort and energy was where it needed to be, something that has not always been the case throughout the stretch.
“We felt like we were competing, playing hard,” Young said. “Our energy was good … It’s a tough loss because we felt like we were going to win it.”
“I thought our guys really battled and competed,” Holtmann said following the loss, later adding, “I think in some ways we took a step forward … Right now we’re just not good enough in some areas to win in this league.”
With the loss, Ohio State drops to 12-7 on the season and 2-6 in Big Ten play. The Bucks will return to the floor on Sunday when they travel to Northwestern. Tip-off for that game is set for 6:30 p.m.
Reach Dillon Davis at 740-413-0904. Follow him on Twitter @DillonDavis56.