CINCINNATI, Ohio (WCMH) — In their first regular season meeting since 1934, No. 19 Ohio State fell to Xavier 71-65 at the Cintas Center.
Xavier held off a furious comeback from the Buckeyes who came to life in the final four minutes after struggling offensively for most of the game.
E.J. Liddell nearly recorded a triple-double with 17 points, seven rebounds a career-high eight blocks while Meechie Johnson added 14 points.
Xavier’s top scorer, Paul Scruggs, was quiet all night but delivered when it mattered most, scoring eight points in the final 90 seconds of the game. He finished with 14 points.
The Buckeyes, playing without 6’8″ forward Justice Sueing, struggled against Xavier’s size with the Musketeers outrebounding OSU 43-35, including 16 offensive rebounds. Xavier also outscored Ohio State by 10 points in the paint.
The Buckeyes were sluggish in the first half turning the ball over nine times and finished with 13 turnovers.
Neither team shot well as both the Buckeyes and Musketeers failed to shoot above 40% from the field.
Ohio State trailed by nine at halftime and got as close as three points on two different occasions in the final four minutes.
Meechie Johnson knocked down a three with 3:20 left to pull OSU within three, its closest deficit since the 12-minute mark of the first half. Two minutes later, with OSU down seven, Kyle Young went up strong and drew a foul while making the basket. He connected on the free throw, shrinking Xavier’s lead to 63-59.
With Ohio State once again on the brink, Liddell knocked down a pivotal three-pointer with 42 seconds left to make it a three-point game.
But Xavier had an answer every time OSU got within striking distance to help seal the win.
Columbus native and Pickerington North grad Jerome Hunter finished with four points and five rebounds.
The Buckeyes return to action Monday, Nov. 22 to face Seton Hall in the Fort Myers Tip Off Tournament.