INDIANAPOLIS — Duane Washington Jr. and Justice Sueing each scored 16 points and No. 9 Ohio State fended off Minnesota’s late charge to win 79-75 on Thursday at the Big Ten Tournament.
The Buckeyes (19-8) snapped a four-game losing streak and advanced to Friday’s quarterfinal round.
Marcus Carr scored 24 points and Jamal Mashburn Jr. finished with 18 to lead Minnesota (14-15), which lost for the eighth time in nine games.
Ohio State never trailed after taking a 13-0 lead to open the game, but struggled to put this one away late — despite having a seemingly safe 70-56 lead with 3:24 to go.
A rash of errant shots, fouls and turnovers allowed the Gophers to come back quickly, cutting the deficit to 75-74 on Carr’s 3-pointer with 13.3 seconds to go before Ohio State finally sealed it at the free-throw line.
This one almost got away from Minnesota quickly. The Gophers opened the game with a scoring drought of nearly seven minutes.
When Minnesota’s shooters did warm up, the Gophers fought back.
Mashburn’s first 3-pointer cut the deficit to 24-20 late in the first half, but Ohio State countered with an 11-2 spurt and extended its lead to 39-27 at halftime.
Minnesota: While the dreadful start doomed the short-handed Gophers, they fought hard. They just didn’t have enough bodies or scorers to stay with the Buckeyes. Now comes the hard part — figuring out whether the program can turn the corner and whether coach Richard Pitino will be part of the solution.
Ohio State: The Buckeyes were far from perfect in their tourney opener but they showed grit and, at times, why they are a top-10 team. But they were sloppy, too, and coach Chris Holtmann knows his team must play better this weekend if it hopes to capture the school’s fifth tourney title.
Minnesota: Tre’ Williams had 11 points and eight rebounds. ... Brandon Johnson finished with seven points and eight rebounds despite landing hard on his lower back twice during the game. ... Liam Robbins (ankle) missed his sixth consecutive game and Gabe Kalscheur (broken finger) sat out for the eighth straight game. ... The Golden Gophers missed their first eight shots, including six 3s.
Ohio State: Sueing had seven rebounds and C.J. Walker had 10 points, six rebounds and six assists. ... E.J. Liddell had 14 points, five rebounds and four assists. ... The Buckeyes outscored Minnesota 44-34 in the paint. ... Ohio State is 2-0 in Lucas Oil Stadium. It beat No. 7 Notre Dame in the building in December 2008. ... The Buckeyes won their last tourney crown in 2013.
Minnesota: Faces an offseason of uncertainty.
Ohio State: Takes on No. 21 Purdue in Friday’s second quarterfinal game.