Ohio State sends Minnesota to fourth straight defeat, 78-72
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COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) Marc Loving and Trevor Thompson each scored 19 points to lift Ohio State over Minnesota 78-72 on Wednesday night.
Thompson’s total was a career high, and he also led the Buckeyes with 10 rebounds. Loving bounced back from a disappointing performance Sunday, and Ohio State dealt the Gophers their third straight loss.
Ohio State (13-8, 3-5 Big Ten) played one of its better games of its year against an evenly matched team, shooting 50 percent and making 23 of 30 free throws, including all nine in the first half.
JaQuan Lyle had 11 points and Jae’Sean Tate added 10 for the Buckeyes who have won the last three of four after dropping their first four Big Ten games of the season.
Nate Mason paced the Gophers (15-4, 3-5) with 21 points, and Akeem Springs has 15 points and 10 rebounds.
The Buckeyes earned a split of the season series with Minnesota, who beat them 78-68 on Jan. 8.
Ohio State led by 17 with 3:11 left in the first half, but a 12-0 run by Minnesota closed it to 40-35 at the intermission. Thompson scored eight of the first 13 points for the Buckeyes.
The Buckeyes opened the lead to 10 with 7:04 left in the game on a Loving jumper, but a 10-2 run capped by a Mason 3-pointer cut the lead to two.
Loving hit a 3-pointer with one minute left to open the lead back up to six, but Springs answered with a 3 for Minnesota cutting it to 75-72 with 48 ticks remaining.
Lyle missed two foul shots with 32 seconds left, but Minnesota fouled him again and he converted both to make it 77-72. Thompson, who had two big blocks in the final minute, went to the line and hit a free throw to seal it.
Minnesota: Gophers are on a downward spiral, losing their fourth consecutive game after starting the season 15-2. They’ve won in Columbus only once in the last 18 tries.
Ohio State: Buckeyes get a badly needed win and will need to win seven out of their remaining 10 regula- season games to reach 20 and stay viable for the NCAA Tournament after missing it last season.
Minnesota: Hosts Maryland on Saturday afternoon.
Ohio State: Plays at Iowa on Saturday night.