The 24-0 Ohio State Buckeyes don’t allow upsets. They proved this statement today in front of a sold-out crowd at “the Barn.” With a 82-69 win over Minnesota (20), Ohio State protects their number one spot. Ironically, OSU’s last loss was against Minnesota by eleven points last season.
Minnesota has the best rebounder in the Big 10 (Mbakwe), but Ohio State has the best player in the country: Jared Sullinger. Sullinger is a frontrunner to be National Player of the Year as a freshman.
After back-to-back road losses and this loss at home, Minnesota’s hope to redeem themselves is shattered. They are now 3-18 against number one teams and 11-2 at home.
The Buckeyes have impressive standings in the Big 10. They are 10th in fewest number of turn-overs and they have strong, dedicated players. Notable in this game was Jon Diebler who is one of the best 3-point shooters of all time. David Lighty was also on a roll with 19 points until he fouled out. Lighty put 19 points on the Buckeye scoreboard and Sullinger contributed 18 points.
Sampson and Sullinger were two key players who provided an interesting match-up. Both teams played an aggressive game which resulted in numerous fouls. While Minnesota has the second best shot blocker in the conference (Sampson), they were unable to use one of their strongest players, Al Nolen, due to a broken foot. Hoffarber led the Gophers with his career high of 27 points.
OSU led by eight at the end of the first half, and from that point the Buckeyes continued to broaden the score gap. Minnesota’s defense faltered in the second half, and their offense committed fouls in the Buckeye’s favor. Unfortunately for Minnesota, being hands-on and physical against Ohio State players didn’t help their game, because Buckeye talent just isn’t contagious.
The Buckeyes have won 12 straight Big 10 road games and hope to continue this streak next weekend when they travel to Wisconsin.