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Ohio State men’s basketball blows out Minnesota, 71-45

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After a closely fought, and tightly officiated, first half, the Ohio State men’s basketball team cruised to a 71-45 victory against Minnesota Wednesday night at the Schottenstein Center behind junior forward Deshaun Thomas’ 19-point performance.
After dropping three of their last four games, the Buckeyes were able to get back on track against the Gophers.
“When you get knocked down, it’s always good to pick yourself back up and regroup, and that’s what we did tonight,” Thomas said.
The Gophers stubbornly hung around, though, trailing by only six points with 13:30 left to play in the contest, before OSU surged ahead thanks to a 16-0 run over the next six minutes.
Well before that span, though, the game started off with nine fouls in the first 2:29 of the game.
But Thomas said the team responded well to the avalanche of early calls.
“We didn’t let them get in our head,” he said. “We stayed together and kept our composure as a team and still were aggressive.”
All the early calls did provide an opportunity for several players to come off the bench early, including sophomore guard Shannon Scott and freshman guard Amedeo Della Valle.
Scott, who ended the game with 11 points, came in after junior guard Lenzelle Smith Jr. picked up his second foul 2:31 into the game.
Despite the early foul trouble, OSU’s defense appeared to have woken up from the sleep they were in at Wisconsin Sunday, when the team gave up 71 points and lost by 22.
In addition to limiting the Gophers to just 45 points, OSU held Minnesota to 29 percent shooting from the floor.
Minnesota coach Tubby Smith gave a lot of credit to the Buckeyes.
“Ohio State really turned up the heat defensively,” he said.
The Buckeyes held the Gophers to just 25 percent shooting in the second half.
OSU coach Thad Matta, though, deflected some of Smith’s praise.
“They went cold,” he said. “They had some good looks at the basket that didn’t go down and we’ve seen that a time or two.”
Adding to the Buckeyes’ defensive effort were junior guard Aaron Craft’s three steals in the game.
OSU’s offense still seemed to sputter throughout the first half, scoring just 29 points on 38 percent shooting.
With two minutes to go in the first half, no OSU player had more than one field goal.
That would change.
The Buckeyes finished out the first half on an 8-2 run in the final minutes, including a 3-pointer by Craft at the buzzer to take a six point lead into the game’s intermission.
That sort of offensive performance carried over into the second half as OSU shot nearly 42 percent from the field and 39 percent from behind the arc.
Smith said the Gophers’ struggles from the field and 21 turnovers played a big role in the game’s outcome.
“The combination of shooting poorly and turning the ball over, that’s a perfect storm for getting beat,” he said.
OSU is set to next play Michigan State Sunday at 4 p.m. at the Schottenstein Center. 

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