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Ohio State men’s basketball ends 2023 with victory, defeats West Virginia, 78-75, in overtime to complete non-conference schedule

After Ohio State football fell to Missouri, 14-3, in the Cotton Bowl and women’s basketball lost to Michigan, 69-60, in Ann Arbor, Buckeye Nation needed one of his beloved teams to win this weekend.

“Ohio State men’s basketball delivered”.

TEAM

1

2

OT

FINAL

WEST VIRGINIA

26

39

ten

75

STATE OF OHIO 28 37 13 78

In its final regular season game of 2023, Ohio State defeated West Virginia, 78-75, in overtime at Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse in Cleveland. The Buckeyes’ victory over the Mountaineers improved the team’s record to 11-2 overall before the calendar turns to 2024 and Chris Holtmann’s squad begins Big Ten competition.

Sophomore Roddy Gayle Jr. led the way for Ohio State in the win, pouring in 32 points on 11-of-21 shooting. He also added seven rebounds, six assists and a steal.

First half

After a turnover on Ohio State’s first possession, West Virginia guard RaeQuan Battle, the Big 12 Player of the Week entering the contest, gave the Mountaineers the lead with a deep 3-pointer. From there, however, the Buckeyes took control. Gayle scored seven points, and Bruce Thornton and Felix Okpara combined for five points to put Ohio State ahead, 12-5, during the media timeout at 4 p.m.

When the teams returned to the court, Ohio State continued to press its LeBron James-sponsored sneakers harder on the gas pedal. Over the next four minutes, the Buckeyes’ defense stifled the Mountaineers, who missed all five of their attempts and turned the ball over twice between breaks. Meanwhile, Zed Key threw down a powerful dunk and Jamison Battle threw down a pull-up jumper from the edge of the maroon paint.

At the 9:18 mark, a quick dunk by West Virginia forward Quinn Slazinski broke the Mountaineers’ cold streak and cut Ohio State’s lead in half, 16-8. Okpara then had a dunk and made a pair of free throws, extending the Buckeyes’ lead to 20-8 before WVU forward Noah Farrakhan converted a contested mid-range jumper. When the third media timeout arrived, Ohio State led 24-10 thanks to free throws from Evan Mahaffey and another bucket from Gayle.

Over the final eight minutes, West Virginia gained momentum with an 11-0 run – which included an old-fashioned three-point play from Slazinski, another contested mid-range jumper from Farrakhan and a step-back dunk from forward Pat Suemnick – to succeed. 24-21. Key finished the run around the two-minute mark with a pair of free throws.

After an Ohio State timeout at the 1:30 mark, West Virginia guard Kriisa Kerr tied the game, 26-26, with a 3-pointer. Thornton scored the final basket of the half when he drove to the lane and made a left-handed layup with 36 seconds remaining. The Buckeyes led 28-26 at intermission.

Second part

STATE OF OHIO

STATUS

WEST VIRGINIA

78

POINTS

75

26-73 (35.6%)

MGF-FGA (PCT.)

29-68 (42.6%)

11-34 (32.4%)

3 p.m.-3 p.m. (PCT.)

5-22 (22.7%)

15-25 (60%)

FTM-ALE (PCT.)

12-16 years (75.0%)

11

TURNOVER

14

47

TOTAL REBOUNDS

46

18

OFFENSIVE REBOUNDS

12

29

DEFENSIVE REBOUNDS

34

8

BENCH POINTS

14

4

BLOCKS

2

9

THEFT

3

15

ASSISTED

14

After the break, three of Ohio State’s first four possessions resulted in points. Gayle provided the first bucket with a mid-range jumper before Battle made back-to-back 3-pointers to keep the Buckeyes in front, 36-30. Field goals by Gayle and Okpara – which came off an assist by Gayle – as well as two free throws by Gayle then extended Ohio State’s lead to 42-30.

Ohio State used that cushion to endure a 10-0 West Virginia run, led by Farrakhan and Kerr. The former scored five points during this sequence, while the latter added three. Forward Josiah Harris also added a basket to cut the Buckeyes’ lead to 42-40.

Between the second media timeout and a 30-second Holtmann timeout at the 8:23 mark, Gayle scored five straight points for the Buckeyes – a quick layup and a pacey 3-pointer. Scotty Middleton and Battle also hit shots from behind the arc as Ohio State took a 53-47 lead.

As the clock approached 0:00, the Mountaineers kept the score close and when the final commercial break began, West Virginia cut Ohio State’s lead to three points, 61-58. Soon, three became two, and two became one, as the Mountaineers tied the game at 65 with a Suemnick layup.

On the final possession of regulation, Gayle attempted to drive the lane and score a game-winning field goal for the Buckeyes, but he lost the ball in the short corner and time expired with no field goal for Ohio State.

Over time

Battle made a 3-pointer for the first points of the extra period to give Ohio State a 68-65 lead. The Buckeyes and Mountaineers then traded baskets as RaeQuan Battle, Gayle, RaeQuan Battle and Thornton each scored. West Virginia head coach Josh Eilert called a timeout at the 2:25 mark, with Ohio State leading 73-69.

In the final possessions of the contest, Thornton scored a crucial three-pointer for the Buckeyes and made one of two free throws to keep his team in the lead, 77-71, with two minutes remaining. More crucially, Ohio State’s defense kept West Virginia from scoring consecutive goals down the stretch, and the Buckeyes got one more from Key to leave Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse with a three-point victory, 78-75.

Game notes

  • Ohio State wrapped up its non-conference schedule with the neutral-site win over West Virginia. The contest was part of the Legends of Basketball Classic at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse in Cleveland, home of the NBA’s Cleveland Cavaliers. The Buckeyes went 11-1 in non-conference games.

  • Saturday’s contest was the second straight meeting in Cleveland between Ohio State and West Virginia. The Mountaineers won the last game, 77-68, on December 29, 2019. Kaleb Wesson led the Buckeyes with 17 points as four players scored in double figures.

  • Ohio State improved to 4-0 in neutral site matchups in 2023-24. The Buckeyes won both of their games at the Emerald Coast Classic in Niceville, Fla., and beat UCLA at the CBS Sports Classic in Atlanta.

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