Gophers falter in second half and fall 70-45 to Ohio State
Minnesota led at halftime but couldn't overcome Buckeye offense
COLUMBUS, Ohio — Ohio State scored its fewest first-half points of the season on Tuesday against the Gophers. Similar to this match-up in January, the opening 20 minutes gave Minnesota hope against a ranked Buckeyes squad.
Minnesota’s defense, which mixed in zone to try to limit star E.J. Liddell, forced the Buckeyes into eight first-half turnovers and other failures to convert on the offensive end.
Minnesota weathered its own drought and led 25-23 at the break; it was the fewest points the Gophers have allowed in a first half in Big Ten play this year.
Those hopes were hung out soon after the second half started.
Everything that was challenging for Ohio State in the opening 20 minutes came easy in the final 20 in a 70-45 win at Value Center Arena in Columbus, Ohio.
No. 18 Ohio State (16-6, 9-4) broke loose with 47 points after the break to remain unbeaten at home (11-0). After being limited to four points in the first half, Liddell had a 12 in the second.
Minnesota, coming off a win against Penn State on Saturday, experienced an up-and-down game which ended in an all-too familiar way. The Gophers fell to 12-11 overall, 3-11 Big Ten.
The Gophers had more turnovers (8) than baskets (6) after halftime; it was the lowest scoring game for Minnesota this season.
Payton Willis, Eric Curry and E.J. Stephens combined for seven points on 3-of-21 shooting.
As a team, Minnesota went 1-for-11 shooting over seven minutes midway through the first half, but the Gophers defense kept the Buckeyes from extending a big lead.
Minnesota then had a 10-0 run to take a 23-17 lead with under three minutes left in the half.
In the Buckeyes’ 75-64 win over the Gophers on Jan. 27, Ohio State out-rebounded Minnesota 48-22, including 20 on the offensive glass. It led to 27 second-chance points for Ohio State.
On Tuesday, the Buckeyes had two offensive rebounds on the first possession of the game, but none in the rest of the first half. They had seven offensive rebounds in the second half to aid their surge.
In that first matchup, the Gophers really missed center Eric Curry, out with an ankle injury. They kept that one close, down only 32-30 at the break.