PITTSBURGH – In all of Sister Jean’s 102 years…

Ohio State’s 54-41 win over Loyola-Chicago was described as a prototypical rock fight, and that may be a disrespectful to previous great rock fights in the history of the world.

The Buckeyes welcomed back Kyle Young and Zed Key to the lineup and needed every bit of impact from the duo as points were as difficult to come by as cheap gasoline.

In the other direction, Loyola-Chicago’s all-world player Lucas Williamson was held to just four points on 1-10 shooting, including a 1-6 day from the free throw line.

The two teams combined for 31 turnovers against 33 made baskets. The Ramblers were just 3-10 from the free throw line while the Buckeyes were just 1-15 from beyond the arc.

Both teams were out of sorts all afternoon long.

But with all of that, this game will be remembered as a tough blue-collar game.

And while the Buckeyes would have loved to score more points, the team found a defensive identity for the first time in some time, and it came at the right time.

It’s about time.

Ohio State believes that ‘The Tougher Team Sets The Rules’.

That certainly was the case on Friday.

“It’s one of our core tenets we talk about,” Ohio State head coach Chris Holtmann said. “It’s one of our four things we talk about. It’s what we try to do every game. We don’t always do it as well as we’d like to. But we try to do every game.”

It’s not easy hold a team to 41 points under the best of circumstances. Ohio State held IUPUI to just 37 points during the regular season, one of the worst teams in all of Division I. Conversely, Michigan scored 45 points in the second half against Ohio State in a 75-69 home loss on Senior Day.

We have seen both sides of the coin, but it is no coincidence that good things happen with Young and Key in the lineup.

“We try to hang our hat on being the more physical team, setting the rules,” Young said. “So, when you have a team coming in that’s going to do the same thing, it’s just that much more of a challenge.”

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that every team wants to be the tougher team and Loyola-Chicago was used to it being themselves. That was part of the plan for this game, but the Buckeyes had other plans.

“That’s what we expected,” Loyola-Chicago guard Braden Norris said. “We expected them to be super physical, and we wanted to come out and match that and take it to another level. That’s the type of game that we wanted to play, and we weren’t surprised by that at all.”

Ohio State was held to just 23 points in the first half, in most games that would have been enough for a lead going into the locker room for the other team, but not when you only put up 18 points.

“I feel like when we start out, the first four minutes, that determines the game,” Ohio State forward EJ Liddell said. “We set the rules. And I felt like we came out here and did a great job on defensive end, great communication.”

The tone was set, and the Ramblers were rattled, easy shots became difficult and difficult shots became airballs. Loyola-Chicago was 7-25 from inside the paint and found new and inventive ways to miss sure-things.

Credit goes to Ohio State for holding Loyola to more than 30 points off its usual per game output. And even with that, there was an uneasy feeling among Buckeye Nation until the clock finally read 0:00.

When the horn sounded, the Buckeyes had the bigger number in the score column and advanced to the second round of the tournament.

Those are the rules. Ohio State didn’t even have to set those.

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