Minnesota upsets No. 11 Ohio State
MINNEAPOLIS — Guard DeAndre Mathieu had 12 points and five assists and center Elliott Eliason had 12 points and 13 rebounds to lead Minnesota past No. 11 Ohio State 63-53 Thursday at Williams Arena.
For the Gophers (14-4 overall, 3-2 in the Big Ten), it was the biggest victory yet for first-year coach Richard Pitino.
Four of five Gophers starters scored at least eight points, and all had a hand in an 8-0 second-half run that put them ahead for good against the slumping Buckeyes (15-3, 2-3), who have their first three-game conference losing streak since the 2008-09 season.
Guard Andre Hollins added 10 points and forward Oto Osenieks had eight for the Gophers, who shot 24-for-47 from the field.
Forward LaQuinton Ross had 22 points for the Buckeyes and forward Sam Thompson had 12. But the Buckeyes, who have struggled to score all season, shot just 18-for-51 on the night.
Down 39-38 early in the second half, backup center Maurice Walker scored the first five points in an 8-0 run that gave the Gophers the game’s biggest lead to that point, 46-39, on Mathieu’s free throw with 9:35 left.
Guard Aaron Craft went end-to-end for the Buckeyes to score and stop the run, then Ross made one of two free throws to cut the lead to four.
But Minnesota, which lost a second-half lead in its last game against Michigan State, did not crumble this time.Austin Hollins scored to make it 48-42 when he followed his own missed free throw.
Thompson drove the lane, scored and was fouled. His free throw with 5:44 left cut the Gophers’ lead to three, but Eliason scored at the other end. Ross’ free throw with 4:46 was answered by Osenieks’ basket in the paint with four minutes left for a 52-46 lead.
And Minnesota was not done. Guard Andre Hollins hit a three-pointer from the corner, then Austin Hollins had a steal and a layup to make it 57-46 as the Williams Arena crowd roared.
The teams struggled to a 29-29 tie after a sloppy first half. The Gophers struggled at times just to get a shot off against the Buckeyes’ stellar defense, while Ohio State struggled to make shots.
Minnesota managed just seven shots through the first 10 minutes, while Ohio State took 15 but made only three.
Eventually things got moving. After Minnesota trailed 21-19, Eliason and Osenieks each scored four points in an 8-0 run that gave the Gophers a 27-21 lead on Osenieks’ put-back of a missed free throw. However, Thompson’s dunk started an 8-2 run to end the half, with Ross’ basket in the lane tying the score.
Notes: Both Minnesota senior G Austin Hollins and junior G Andre Hollins reached the 1,000-point plateau this season. It was the first time the Gophers had that happen in the same season since 1993-94. ... Ohio State entered the game on the heels of two consecutive losses, something that happened just 18 times in coach Thad Matta’s tenure, which began in 2004. ... It doesn’t get any easier for the Gophers, who are in the middle of a four-game stretch against top teams. They play at No. 14 Iowa on Sunday and host No. 3 Wisconsin on Wednesday. ... The Buckeyes play at Nebraska on Monday.