Posted January 16, 2014

Minnesota stifles No. 11 Ohio State into third straight loss

Big Ten, Minnesota, Ohio State Buckeyes
Ohio State has lost three in a row for the first time since the 2009 season. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)

Ohio State has lost three in a row for the first time since the 2009 season. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)

It seems like only yesterday that Ohio State sat undefeated with a strong start in Big Ten play. In fact, it was less than two weeks ago when the Buckeyes had reeled off 15 straight victories to start the season and climbed to No. 3 in the country.

But since an 84-53 rout of Nebraska on Jan. 4, the wheels have seemingly come off of Ohio State.

The Buckeyes dropped their third straight game since that 15-0 start with a 63-53 loss at Minnesota on Thursday, a result that also snapped a six-game winning streak by Ohio State in the Big Ten series.

The Gophers took advantage of a lively home crowd at The Barn in Minneapolis and kept things tight with the Buckeyes in the first half. Both squads headed into intermission with 29 points apiece, but the second half was when Minnesota began to overtake an Ohio State squad that appeared to run out of gas.

After the Buckeyes’ LaQuinton Ross sunk two free throws for a 39-38 lead with 13:41 to play, Deandre Mathieu and Maurice Walker combined for eight straight points for the Gophers as Minnesota took control with a 46-39 lead, the team’s largest lead of the night up to that point. But Ohio State wasn’t done. Sam Thompson connected on a layup with the foul and brought the Buckeyes back to within three, 48-45, on the ensuing free throw with 5:44 remaining.

Moments later, Minnesota began to put the game away for good. Andre Hollins tossed in a 3-pointer before the Gophers forced an Ohio State turnover and Austin Hollins banked in a layup. Minnesota suddenly led 57-46 with 2:38 to play. Coach Richard Pitino’s crew didn’t let up, either, increasing its lead to 14 at one point down the stretch before the game was sealed. In all, the Gophers held an Ohio State team that averaged better than 75 points per game to 53 points and 36-percent shooting.

Minnesota was able to shake the Ohio State monkey off its back and overcome its own poor luck against the Buckeyes while also proving its ability to handle big-time conference foes. This was the first win over a ranked opponent this season for the Gophers, which could possibly propel this team going forward.

Ohio State, meanwhile, is in a state of disarray. Prior to Thursday, the Buckeyes had lost their last two games to No. 20 Iowa and No. 5 Michigan State. Now a team that was ranked third in the country only a few days ago is suddenly searching for answers after major trouble in Big Ten play. The loss to Minnesota marked the first three-game losing streak for coach Thad Matta’s program since the 2009 season.

The good news for the Buckeyes is that they’ve been here before. Ohio State lost three of four games in the middle of February last season to ranked foes in Michigan, Indiana and Wisconsin before reeling off 11 straight wins en route to an Elite Eight berth. But this Buckeyes squad isn’t going anywhere until Ross, Aaron Craft and this roster can prove its ability to survive tough road venues. Two of Ohio State’s three losses have come on the road so far, and it still must travel to Wisconsin and Iowa at the beginning of February. Matta’s crew might have a bit of growing up to do if a deep tournament run is in Ohio State’s future.

10 comments
MarkBlackford
MarkBlackford

Hey stupid people! Ohio State didn't rank themselves. Get over it! There is no great travesty here. Just a team that needs to play better and find some more scoring. People who argue about rankings need to find something meaningful to worry about.

Longsack the Clown
Longsack the Clown

Pathetic shooting from most of the team, sloppy play, stupid mistakes, lackadaisical passing, guys just standing around watching the game instead of playing, looking lost on the offensive end, getting out rebounded constantly, and all this with most of the team playing with the enthusiasm of a snail, is why they are on a 3 game skid. And if it continues this way there are plenty more losses to come. Hard to watch games played like this.

ChiefG
ChiefG

Not going to win when you only have one reliable scorer on the team.

Ross is only dependable shooter. Everyone else just fires bricks and throws ball away with Craft leading the way.

jasonleegrenier
jasonleegrenier

How are they #11 again and with 3 losses in a row they should not be in the top 25.

Marchoir
Marchoir

Deep (NCAA) tournament run? Seriously? Ohio State not only hasn't beaten a single Top 25 team, they haven't even beaten a single TOP 50 team! To date they have only played three (3) teams ranked in the Top 50, and lost to all of them. And you're talking about a "deep tournament run"? The Buckeyes won't even make a "deep" BIG10 tournament run. Today they are perched at #8 in the BIG10, and still falling.

WHO*IS*ESPN
WHO*IS*ESPN

Seems OSU is the Big 10 version of Kentucky 

Buckboi
Buckboi

I am a Big Ohio State fan! I Totally agree with your prognosis of this basketball team! Like you said it will be hard to watch another game like last one!

bobinpowell
bobinpowell

@jasonleegrenierAdding to what gmag39 said, why shouldn't a 15-3 team be in your top 25, even if you were creating it today?  BTW, take the "a" and the "g" away from "creating", and we have you left in all your glory.