The Rutgers men’s basketball fell to Ohio State 67-66 in its first Big Ten road game. The Scarlet Knights (6-3, 1-1) had a 2-point lead with 5 seconds remaining, but a 3-point shot by Tanner Holden at the buzzer gave Rutgers the 1-point loss.
The Knights started the first half well, and reached a lead of 11-5 in the first four minutes. But the Buckeyes (7-2, 1-0) stormed right back and led 31-20 with nearly four minutes remaining in the first half. Rutgers would end the half strong with a 9-0 run in the final four minutes to only trail Ohio State by 2 points at halftime.
Senior guard Cam Spencer led the Knights with 9 points in the first half. Spencer shot a perfect 4-4 from the field and tallied an assist as well.
The Buckeyes dominated the paint in the half thanks to Zed Key. Key scored 15 points and secured eight rebounds in the first half.
The second half was a back-and-forth affair with no team leading by more than 5 points at any point. Rutgers got junior center Clifford Omoruyi more involved, and he scored 14 points, corralled in four rebounds and made two blocks in the second half.
Omoruyi’s second block and senior guard Paul Mulcahy’s ensuing rebound put Mulcahy at the free-throw line with seven seconds left and a 2-point lead. Mulcahy drained both free throws, but Bruce Thornton brought the deficit back down to one by making a pair of free throws with five seconds left to play.
Ohio State sent fifth-year senior guard Caleb McConnell to the line next. McConnell made his first free-throw shot, which put the Knights up by 2 points, but missed his second free throw. Thornton retrieved the ball off the miss, dribbled to the right side of the court and found Holden, who then drained the long-range 3-point shot to give the Buckeyes the 1-point victory at the buzzer.
The game-winner was somewhat controversial as it appeared on replay that Thornton may have stepped out of bounds prior to the pass, but there was ultimately no review of the play which meant a victory for Ohio State.
Rutgers will look to bounce back on Sunday, taking on their in-state rival Seton Hall at home. The game will tip off at 6:30 p.m. and will be broadcasted on Fox Sports 1 and 88.7 WRSU-FM.
"My team, they fight, and I am proud of them," said head coach Steve Pikiell in after the game. "We've won games like this, but just a tough way to lose. But again, it's life here in the Big Ten. I have to give them credit. They made one more play, but I'm not sure about the sideline thing. I thought he was clearly out, but again, I didn't see anything."
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