Ohio State basketball survives Rutgers after having a big lead

The Ohio State basketball team is hoping to not have a January slide like they have had in years past under Chris Holtmann. After blowing a big lead, they were able to avoid starting that slide on Wednesday night.
Rutgers v Ohio State
Rutgers v Ohio State / Kirk Irwin/GettyImages

The Ohio State basketball team is looking to be a much better team than they were last year. In order to do that, they can't be terrible in Big Ten play. Last year, they won just five games in league play, finishing the year 5-15 in the Big Ten. That's unacceptable and they know it.

They had only played two Big Ten games prior to Wednesday night. In one of those games, they blew an 18-point lead to Penn State. It looked like they were going to do something similar against Rutgers. Instead, the Buckeyes were able to hold on for a 76-72 victory.

Ohio State was up 14 points at one point in the first half. Yet, Rutgers cut it to three multiple times in the second half. The Buckeyes had to shoot free-throws to ice the game at the end. A win is a win, but too many times it seems the Buckeyes have issues closing out games.

Turnovers were a big problem for the Buckeyes. They had 13 of them and most of them came in the second half. Jamison Battle's big first half is a big reason why Ohio State's cushion ended up being enough. He had five three-pointers in the first half. He finished with six of them and finished with 22 points overall. Battle has been great for the Buckeyes so far.

Despite that lofty point total, he wasn't the leading scorer on his own team. Bruce Thornton held that distinction with 24 points of his own. He also added 7 assists and 4 rebounds. He was very clearly in charge of the game offensively for the Buckeyes.

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Making 46% of your threes is a good way to win a lot of games. That's what this Ohio State basketball team did. What they still need to do better is close out games. Hopefully, that's something they can work on.