Ohio State basketball survives upset in first round of NIT in Jake Diebler's debut

In the first game without the interim tag, new Ohio State basketball head coach Jake Diebler kept the Buckeyes from suffering a big upset in the NIT.

Mar 19, 2024; Columbus, OH, USA; Ohio State Buckeyes head coach Jake Diebler yells during the first
Mar 19, 2024; Columbus, OH, USA; Ohio State Buckeyes head coach Jake Diebler yells during the first / Adam Cairns/Columbus Dispatch / USA

It was unfortunate that the Ohio State basketball team wasn't able to finish off their run at the end of the regular season and make the NCAA Tournament. Instead, they accepted an NIT bid and were a two-seed. They took on Cornell in the first round on Tuesday night.

This was the first game that Jake Diebler coached as head coach of the Ohio State basketball team since the interim tag was lifted. It wasn't exactly how he envisioned it, but he was able to help his team get the win. Ohio State beat Cornell 88-83 after some clutch plays at the end.

Jamison Battle hit a big three to give the Buckeyes the lead with 43 seconds left. They never gave it up after that. Despite missing as many free throws in this game as he has all year, Battle still led the team in scoring with 17 points. He shared that with Roddy Gayle, who also had 17.

Free throws were a big issue for the Buckeyes. They made just 13/22 from the free-throw line. That's just 59%. That's something that they need to get tightened up in the next round. It is distressing that this game was this close when it was played at home at the Schott.

This would have been a bad way for the Jake Diebler era to start had they lost. But the Buckeyes were able to make enough plays down the stretch. What was striking is that Diebler was able to keep this team from folding when things got close at the end of the game. That's something Chris Holtmann was unable to do.

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Ohio State will now play the winner of the Richmond/Virginia game on either Saturday or Sunday. Ohio State will be favored in that game as well, no matter who they end up playing.