Scarlet Sunrise: Buckeyes get reward of much-needed win after back-to-back heartbreakers

On3 imageby:Andy Backstrom02/11/24


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Buckeyes get reward of much-needed win after back-to-back heartbreakers

Bruce Thornton said he saw the look in his teammates’ eyes. Ohio State had lost eight of its last nine games, but the sophomore point guard and captain knew the Buckeyes were going to come out on top Saturday night against Maryland, even when they went down 10 in the first half.

“I just told my teammates, ‘Let it hang, yo,'” Thornton said. “People are going to say stuff about you if you winning or you losing. You just gotta have that swagger about you that ‘I’m going make the next play, I’m going to make the next shot.'”

Thornton forced overtime with a game-tying 3-pointer toward the end of regulation. Then he scored the game-winning basket in double overtime. He finished with 24 points, seven rebounds and four assists.

His final rebound and final assist came on the final scoring play of the game.

After Ohio State senior center Zed Key walled up and blocked Maryland forward Donta Scott, Thornton pulled down the subsequent rebound before flinging a pass up the court for Roddy Gayle Jr.

“I just looked at the clock, looked at the bench,” Gayle said. “My bench gave me the go ahead. It wasn’t really Coach Holt. But my teammates did. So I knew I had to do something special.”

With the game’s last seconds ticking off the clock, Gayle threw down a windmill dunk. The Schottenstein Center crowd erupted and, moments later, the Buckeyes were celebrating.

“Just seeing smiles on everybody’s faces,” Gayle said. “Such excitement and emotion. It felt amazing. Even seeing Coach Holt crack a smile. Looking at the guy you standing next to, that’s who you do it for.”

Holtmann was asked postgame if he started smiling before or after Gayle’s windmill dunk.

“Probably in the middle of it,” Holtmann said after chuckling and letting another grin through.

Holtmann stressed in his press conference how happy he is for his players. He talked about how much Tuesday’s loss to Indiana was a “gut punch” to his guys, his fellow coaches and the fans. Ohio State, after all, blew an 18-point second-half lead to the Hoosiers.

But even after a gut punch like that, more than 13,000 people showed up to the arena Saturday. And although it was quiet in the early going — so quiet that you could hear “Fire Holtmann” jeers from Maryland fans — it got loud when it mattered most.

Holtmann noted that one of his assistants made the point that Buckeyes fans carried the team the last five minutes of regulation and during both overtimes.

Ultimately, though, the final Thornton-Gayle exchange was fitting. Because the foundational pieces of this Ohio State team delivered against UMD.

“A guy like Bruce, in terms of how he’s led in practice the last couple days. Roddy’s ability to impact the game in a different way,” Holtmann said. “Even a guy like Dale [Bonner] who’s in first year [here], but his mindset’s been so good, in terms of helping this group — both in practice and in games, even though he’s a quieter guy.”

Holtmann added: “We’ve had a lot of guys who have I think really had the right approach. And, as a coach, you’re just glad they finally found a reward of a win.”

Three Points: Ohio State finally pulls through late, outlasts Maryland in double overtime

Ohio State was hurt by second-chance UMD points early. Once again, both freshman forward Devin Royal and starting center Felix Okpara were held back by foul trouble.

The Buckeyes led for only 5:04. Unlike the previous two games, they didn’t falter down the stretch. Against the Terrapins, that’s when Ohio State pulled through.

Thornton took over, Key provided huge minutes despite battling illness and Gayle put the finishing touch on a memorable night in the Schottenstein Center with a highlight-reel dunk.

Lettermen Row has Three Points from the win. Check it out here.

New offensive coordinator Chip Kelly checks most important box for Ryan Day, Ohio State football

After Bill O’Brien’s three-week stay ended with him taking the Boston College head coaching job, Ryan Day immediately hired his old mentor, Chip Kelly, to become the new Buckeyes offensive coordinator, quarterbacks coach and play-caller.

Kelly brings everything to the table O’Brien did — NFL and college head coaching and play-calling experience — but he also adds another dimension: familiarity and comfortability.

While Day’s respect for O’Brien is clear, Day’s history with Kelly is undeniable. The pairing goes back decades, and they’ve already coached with each other at the college and pro levels.

For the full story on Kelly checking that key box, go here.

Counting down

Buckeyes vs. Akron: 202 days
Buckeyes vs. Michigan: 293 days

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