Written by PJ Vogt, CNN Washington D.C. Contributors
A few seconds after Ohio State closed the game on a momentum-shifting 4-0 run Wednesday night, coach Chris Holtmann and his team were in an elevator with one of their trainers — and it was clear what they wanted to do.
“If you shoot it before the clock strikes zero, it’s going in, right?” Holtmann laughed. “That’s the way we’ve been thinking all year. Come into halftime with the game tied, give us the lead.”
The Buckeyes, looking to knock off No. 1 Duke in East Lansing, Michigan, struggled in the first half — shooting only 23% from 3-point range and missing an astounding five free throws — but took control after halftime to pull off a shocking 71-66 win.
It was Ohio State’s first victory over a No. 1 team since 1982, and the Buckeyes’ first win at the Kohl Center in 10 tries.
A few plays from Ohio State’s Star Center to help them shut down Duke’s star guard (Donald)
Down by 3 points after Blue Devils sophomore guard R.J. Barrett scored on a tough turnaround jumper with 8:53 remaining, Ohio State scored seven straight points to tie the game.
Ohio State’s Dominik Wesson came into the game with a 6.3 point-per-game average and led the team with 14 points against Duke, pulling down 15 rebounds. He was also one of three Buckeyes to score in double figures and the lone player on the team to hit two 3-pointers.
The five-win Ohio State Buckeyes will need this win in the NCAA Tournament. Credit: Courtesy Ohio State Buckeyes
“Dominik was just making plays, he was taking quality shots and getting buckets,” Holtmann said. “He helped us take control of the game. When we need a 3-pointer, we need that score and he’s making it more than any one of us. I told him to just shoot it. And in this game if he makes a shot like that it’s always a good sign that we have some chances to win.”
Barrett did his part, scoring 23 points to lead Duke, but injured himself trying to score on a fast break with about two minutes remaining. With the speedy Barrett on the bench, the Buckeyes began their scoring run from the charity stripe.
“It takes a lot out of me,” Barrett said. “It’s really hard to sit on the bench and watch the game like that. I just played hard, but it’s definitely not easy sitting on the bench.”
“The timing of it happened a little bit later than we thought it would, but at the end of the day, I’m a leader on this team and we have guys who can get it done. It’s definitely tough for me to watch on the bench, but as a leader on this team I’ve got to be able to step up.”
Senior guard Kaleb Wesson added a bucket for the Buckeyes, who hold a 5-5 record away from Value City Arena and are still looking for their first true road win of the season.
Duke falls to 6-1 on the season, but has re-established themselves as a dangerous team in the top half of the college basketball polls. The Blue Devils sit in second place in the Atlantic Coast Conference, just two games behind No. 1 Louisville.