One of Ohio State’s weaknesses became its strength in the final minutes during a 64-60 win over Connecticut on Saturday night at Value City Arena.
The game was tied at 54 with 2:40 left in the game and the Buckeyes (8-2) made 10 of their 12 free throws the rest of the way to hold off UConn (4-5). All of Ohio State’s points in the last two-plus minutes came from the charity stripe.
The Buckeyes shot a season-high 34 foul shots for the game and made 26 of them (76.5 percent). They entered the game shooting 63.1 percent from the line. The Huskies only attempted nine free throws and made five of them.
“We were proud of our effort, just can’t foul so much,” Connecticut head coach Kevin Ollie said after the game. “We make five free throws and they make 26 and that’s the ballgame.”
Connecticut cut it to three with 18 seconds left when sophomore guard Jalen Adams made a layup while being fouled and then hit the ensuing free throw.
Senior forward Marc Loving made one of two freebies on OSU’s next possession to preserve the victory.
Junior center Trevor Thompson recorded career highs in points (17) and rebounds (17) while notching his second double-double of the year. The big man went 9 of 10 from the foul line as well.
“Definitely came into this game with a chip on my shoulder just from last year’s game vs. UConn (a 75-55 loss) and how I played and what happened,” Thompson said. “I definitely told myself before the game that I wanted revenge and payback and that’s what my mind was on.”
OSU sophomore guard JaQuan Lyle finished with 16 points and all six of his successful free-throw tries came in the last two minutes of the game.
Adams paced the Huskies with 19 points while making 7 of 16 shots from the field (43.8 percent). Freshman forward Vance Jackson was next in line with 12 points on 4-of-7 shooting.
The Buckeyes shot a dismal 2 of 18 (11.1 percent) from three-point range while the Huskies shot at a 7-of-22 clip (31.8 percent).
Ohio State committed a season-low seven turnovers in the win. The previous mark was 10 vs. Marshall on Nov. 25. Connecticut coughed it up 16 times.
UConn was without freshman forward Juwan Durham due to illness and only had seven players available to play. OSU head coach Thad Matta wanted his team to attack the rim for that very reason.
"Thank goodness," Matta said of his team shooting well from the foul line. "UConn was down to seven players tonight and we wanted to try to go at them and put ourselves in that position to get to the line."
Ohio State now has a full week to prepare for No. 2 UCLA in the CBSSports Classic at Las Vegas on Dec. 17 at 3 p.m. (ET).