No. 9 Ohio State looks to end skid in opener vs. Minnesota

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April 29 2021 08:00 pm

Ohio State opens Big Ten tournament play looking to end a four-game losing streak when it faces Minnesota on Thursday in Indianapolis, Ind.

Minnesota (14-14) knows something about streaking in the wrong direction. The No. 13 seed Golden Gophers defeated No. 12 Northwestern 51-46 on Wednesday with a 12-0 run to end the game to break a seven-game losing skid.

“It’s a great win for our guys,” Minnesota coach Richard Pitino said. “I’m happy for our guys that we can taste winning. We haven’t felt it in a while.”

The No. 5 seed Buckeyes (18-8) lost 77-60 to Minnesota on Jan. 3 in the lone meeting.

Liam Robbins led five Golden Gophers in double figures with 27 points and 14 rebounds in that game and Gabe Kalscheur had 13 points.

Neither played against Northwestern because of injuries, with Kalscheur missing his seventh straight game and Robbins his fifth in a row. Their availability for Thursday is unknown.

“We’re a different team now. They’re a different team now,” Pitino said of the Buckeyes. “We’ll watch some film tonight and go prepare for one of the best teams in the country.”

Ohio State coach Chris Holtmann said his players remain positive despite the tailspin. The Buckeyes were projected to be a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament three weeks ago but had home losses to Michigan, Iowa and Illinois and a setback at Michigan State.

Other than being blown out 73-57 by the Hawkeyes, the common theme was Buckeyes were in position to win until faltering.

For example, Illinois scored the final nine points in a 73-68 win on Saturday, while the Buckeyes missed their last 10 shots.

“I think everybody’s in a good place,” Holtmann said Wednesday. “We watched film on Sunday (of the Illinois game), so normally, as you’d expect, disappointed.

“But there’s a lot of good things from that game. And, outside of the Iowa game, there’s been some really good things come out of this stretch. So, the guys are in a great place here, and ready to move forward in tournament play.”

In a tourney where there are no days off, fatigue and injuries will be a factor.

Minnesota will take to the Lucas Oil Stadium court against the Buckeyes about 18 hours after its first game. That’s the price to pay for being a low seed.

Ohio State missed on a double-bye and a Friday start because of its losing streak and could have used another day of rest.

Players such as Kyle Young, Seth Towns, Justice Sueing, CJ Walker and Musa Jallow have been either playing through injuries or limited in practice time.

“Obviously, we’ll take it one game at a time, but I am interested to see what that will look like for us given we’ve not got some guys (not practicing),” Holtmann said. “It’ll be interesting to see if we get beyond game one and kind of what it looks like afterward.”

The Golden Gophers will have to be wary of Ohio State leading scorer E.J. Liddell (16.0 points per game), who was named first-team All-Big Ten by the coaches.

–Field Level Media

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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