The Buckeye combo guard exploded for 25 first-half points to help the team to a 12-point halftime lead, but couldn’t get going in the second as Ohio State (13-3, 2-1) squeaked out a 74-72 win in overtime at Minnesota (11-5, 0-3). The win was the first road win for the Buckeyes, a victory that got them over .500 in the conference and kept the Gophers winless in league play.
Russell went 10 of 12 in the first half while connecting on all five of his three-point attempts, but the Gophers worked to deny him the ball after intermission and played more physical defense against the freshman. He took just five shots after the break, which allowed the Gophers to claw their way back in it.
Despite not leading in the second half, the Gophers outscored Ohio State by 12 after intermission tie the score at 66 and force overtime.
A layup by Deandre Mathieu to start the extra period gave Minnesota a 68-66 lead, their first advantage since 9-7.
A dunk from Amir Williams and a tip in by Marc Loving gave the Buckeyes back the lead at 70-68. Russell connected on free throws with 1:13 left in the extra period, his only points outside the first half, to extend the lead to 72-69.
And old-fashioned three-point play by Nate Mason tied the score once again. Ohio State got the ball for what could have been the final possession and Loving connected on a jumper off a nice curl. Shannon Scott disrupted the Gophers offense at the other end to seal the victory.
Even more than halfway through the second half, it didn’t appear an overtime was coming.
Without their star freshman scoring in the second half, the Buckeyes had a seven-point advantage with 7:20 left when a Williams technical foul drastically changed the game. Upset with a shooting foul he had been called for, the senior argued the call and was given a technical while walking back to the bench.
After the teams traded baskets, Shannon Scott found a cutting Thompson on consecutive possessions for easy dunks. Those flushes made it 66-63 as they were sandwiched around a free throw by Andre Hollins, who scored all of his 12 points after halftime.
A layup and a free throw from Minnesota gave Ohio State the ball for the final possession with the score tied at 66, but Russell lost the ball in the lane. It bounced to Williams, but he couldn’t finish, forcing the overtime.
While Russell was a non-factor after halftime, largely due to the Gophers defense, the freshman put on a show in the first half.
Russell got going early, getting the Buckeyes on the board with a jumper at the 18:09 mark to make it 4-2 Minnesota. After the Gophers established an early 9-5 lead, Russell led the Buckeyes on a 12-0 run to seize control that was helped by four consecutive Minnesota turnovers.
The lead wouldn’t hold. After taking a 21-14 lead on a Jae’Sean Tate layup, the Buckeyes went on a 3:15 scoring drought that featured a 7-0 Gophers run. Russell broke the drought with a layup, but the Gophers answered to knot it at 23.
Russell scored 12 points on the Buckeyes 18-6 run that closed the half.
The freshman finished with 27 points and five assists. Loving added 13 while Scott had nine points and 10 assists.