If there was one time I could be a fly on the wall in Ohio State’s locker room just hear to Thad Matta’s halftime speech, Saturday’s night edition would be the one.
Junior forward Sam Thompson scored 16 of his game-high 19 points in the second half to help No. 24 Ohio State roll past Minnesota, 64-46, at Value City Arena in Columbus, Saturday night.
Senior guard Lenzelle Smith Jr. added 13 points, and junior guard Shannon Scott netted 10 for the Buckeyes (22-6, 9-6 Big Ten), winners in three straight and six of their last seven overall.
But the outcome was a total flip from the first half.
With 7:35 left in the opening period, the Golden Gophers led by six with the Buckeyes scoring a grand total of nine points in just over 12 minutes of action.
The rest of the period wasn’t much better for Ohio State as Minnesota went into the tunnel ahead 28-18 at halftime.
Luckily for OSU, a college basketball game last 40 minutes.
DeAndre Mathieu’s layup less than a minute into the second half put the Gophers up 30-18, giving Minnesota its biggest lead of the game. But then the Gophers couldn’t find the basket with GPS as Ohio State went on a 27-5 run to take a 45-35 advantage. Thompson, who ended the run with a slam, scored 12 points during the burst.
Minnesota’s Malik Smith ended the flurry with a pair of free throws, but Scott knocked down a pair from the charity stripe to ignite a 17-4 spurt that helped the Buckeyes put it out of reach.
Ohio State went 17-for-30 from the field in the second half, after going just 6-for-22 over the first 20 minutes.
“In this league, you need to play like every game is the biggest game of your life. If you’re not ready to compete, fight or execute, you’re going to be embarrassed,” said Ohio State coach Thad Matta. “It’s going to be exactly the same when we play Penn State on Wednesday. We have to get ourselves ready to go.”
Andre Hollins scored 13 points and DMathieu chipped in with 12 points for the Golden Gophers (17-11, 6-9), who have dropped three of four.
“We hijack ourselves. We don’t allow ourselves to win. We do some things turnover-wise that are just inexplicable and they lead to baskets for them. You can’t do that against very good teams,” said Minnesota coach Richard Pitino.
Up next, Ohio State travels to State College to take on Penn State, Thursday night. Tip-off at the Bryce Jordan Center is scheduled for 7:00 p.m. ET, and the game will be televised on ESPN2.