INDIANAPOLIS – Every twist seemed to put No. 24 Ohio State on the verge of closing out Thursday’s Big Ten tournament game.
Every turn put the defending tourney champs right back on the verge of becoming the victim of a stunning first-round upset.
After LaQuinton Ross and Aaron Craft combined for nine points during a key second-half spurt, No. 24 Ohio State still needed Terone Johnson to miss a buzzer-beating 3-pointer to hang on for a 63-61 victory over struggling Purdue.
“It’s finding a way,” Craft said. “It doesn’t matter how ugly a game is at this point, it’s about trying to find a way to keep playing, and luckily we were able to do that again.”
Little has gone right lately for the Buckeyes (24-8).
In their last trip to Indiana, March 2, they managed only one basket outside of about 10 feet and went 0-for-11 from 3-point range.
On Thursday, back in the Hoosier State for the first time since that dreadful performance, they were only slightly better. Ohio State shot 35.9 percent from the field, made five shots outside the paint and, after missing their first six 3s, finished 1-for-14 from beyond the arc.
Minnesota 63, Penn State 56: The Golden Gophers took a big step toward the NCAA tournament by earning their 20th win of the season in a first-round game against the Nittany Lions.
Austin Hollins led the way with 18 points, and a late 3-pointer from Andrew Hollins sealed the victory.
“This game had a lot of implications, and it’s hard not to ignore it, but you know it’s there,” Hollins said when asked about the NCAA talk. “It’s a game we had to win. We came out and took care of
D.J Newbill scored 16 points for Penn State (15-17), which has three losses in four games, including twice this week to the Gophers. Senior Tim Frazier had 11 points, five rebounds and five assists.
Cal State Bakersfield 68, Chicago State 62: Issiah Grayson scored 29 points, and Aly Ahmed added 15 points and 12 rebounds in leading No. 6 seed Cal State Bakersfield past Dixon graduate Matt Ross and the Cougars (13-19) in Las Vegas.
Ross had three points and six rebounds in his final college game. Ross spent 2 years at Sauk Valley Community College before transferring to Chicago State.
The Cougars (13-19) were led by Nate Duhon’s 19 points.