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Men’s basketball: Ohio State drops third straight with 78-68 loss to Minnesota

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Ohio State coach Thad Matta prepares to address team at a media timeout against Purdue on Jan. 1, 2017 at the Jerome Schottenstein Center. OSU lost 76-75. Credit: Giustino Bovenzi | Lantern Senior Reporter

The Ohio State men’s basketball team has struggled since the beginning of Big Ten play, and Sunday night was no different for the Buckeyes. OSU won 10 of the last 11 meetings with the Golden Gophers, but it was Minnesota who walked away with a 78-68 victory.

An off night for redshirt junior guard Kam Williams stymied the Buckeye offense and limited OSU coach Thad Matta’s team to just 40.6 percent shooting as a team. Williams shot just 1-for-10, and OSU’s shortcomings at the free throw line and behind the arc kept Minnesota out front throughout the game.

In the first half, Minnesota led by as many as 18 points, propelled by a hot shooting night from redshirt senior guard Akeem Springs. He finished the game with 18 points and five assists.

Early turnovers and missed free throws left an early deficit for OSU, as the Buckeyes turned the ball over 14 times on Sunday, and went just 11-for-21 from the charity stripe.

In the second half, the Buckeyes came out on a 6-0 scoring run in the first two minutes, cutting the Minnesota lead to five. However, the Golden Gophers pushed their lead back to nine just eight minutes in by a long 3 from sophomore guard Dupree McBrayer.

OSU was led by the duo of redshirt junior center Trevor Thompson and junior forward Jae’Sean Tate, who combined for 35 points and 24 rebounds. Tate came into the game averaging 14.1 points per game.

Thompson picked up his fourth foul of the game with 8:53 left in the second half, causing the 7-foot center to sit for the next few minutes. During that span, freshman guard Amir Coffey drove down the lane and slammed home a tough contact dunk, keeping the momentum firmly in the corner of Minnesota.

Coffey was the go-to player for Minnesota, racking up 19 points on 7-for-11 shooting.

Even after pulling within three, OSU was no match for Springs, who knocked down a long distance 3 to increase the lead to nine with two minutes left.

The loss drops OSU to a 10-6 record with an 0-3 mark in conference play. Minnesota is now 15-2, and is 3-1 in Big Ten play.

The Buckeyes are now set to travel to face No. 13 Wisconsin in Madison at 7 p.m. on Thursday.

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