Four Buckeyes scored in double figures Wednesday night as No. 21 Ohio State defeated Towson 85-74 after a back-and-forth first half. Kyle Young led OSU in scoring with 18. Justin Ahrens added 16, EJ Liddell pitched in 15, and Zed Key scored 13 points for the Buckeyes.
Towson guard Jason Gibson led all scorers with 19 points on 7-of-11 shooting and 4-of-8 from three-point range.
Ohio State opened the night by scoring 12 of the game’s first 15 points to lead 12-3 after four minutes of action. Towson then answered with a 20-5 run to take a 23-17 lead with 9:24 left in the first half. When the half finally ended, it was the Buckeyes leading 33-32 thanks to 11 points from Zed Key and 9 points from EJ Liddell. Together, the two Ohio State big men sank eight of their nine field goal attempts. Kyle Young added five points, giving OSU’s front court a 25-point first half.
The Buckeyes never trailed in the second half but Towson did tie it a couple of times early on. The second tie came at 43-43, but Ohio State then quickly went on a 12-2 run, featuring six points from Kyle Young and back-to-back baskets from Jamari Wheeler.
Over an 88-second stretch late in the second half, Ahrens scored 10 points on three three-pointers, with one of those occurring while he was being fouled, which led to a four-point play. The third three gave the Buckeyes a 76-63 lead with five minutes to play and any run that Towson was hoping for after that was essentially eliminated.
Ohio State shot 57% from the field (27-47) and outrebounded the Tigers 31-21. The Buckeyes held Towson to just five second-chance points.
Zed Key was pitch perfect in the first half, shooting 5-for-5 from the field and providing a paint presence that Towson couldn’t handle once Key got his hands on the ball. The Tiger defense did a nice job of battling down low and limiting the passes to him in the post, but once the entry pass was collected, Key was determined and definitive in the first half. His first miss of the game came in the second half following a tremendous offensive rebound and a follow-up that was just a bit long.
Let Me Tell Ya Something Mean Gene
Eugene Brown III returned after missing four games due to a concussion. Head coach Chris Holtmann needed a spark in the first half and he sent Brown in to provide it. He got involved quickly. Brown checked into the game and OSU immediately gave up a three-pointer to go down 28-21 with 5:31 left in the first half, but Brown responded with a three-pointer of his own to cut the lead to four points. Brown stayed in the game the rest of the half the Buckeyes closed things out with a 33-32 lead at halftime.
The Inevitability Of Inevitability
It’s never all that unusual when a small school hangs with a big program for a half of play or more, but more often than not, it gets tougher and tougher to hang as the minutes tick in the second half. Ohio State led 33-32 at the half and things didn’t really get out of hand until later on in the second half. The Buckeyes had the size and strength advantage throughout the game, as evidenced by the scoring of EJ Liddell, Zed Key, and Kyle Young. Eventually the OSU depth and talent took over and their offense became harder and harder to stop. The Tigers still had effective moments on offense well into the second half but couldn’t quite get things as jump-started as they needed in order to overcome the talent and depth deficit.
Old Young, New Tricks
Kyle Young was effective and efficient on the night. He scored a game-high 18 points and did it on 6-of-7 shooting. He drained both of his three-point attempts and did it without hesitating. He is driving, finishing, and even brought the ball up the court with a defender on him late in the second half. Young did take a heck of a charge in the final minutes of the game to show that he can still play defense and hasn’t forsaken that side of the ball.
The Box Score
[Header photo courtesy of the Ohio State Dept. of Athletics.]