No. 18 Ohio State aims to stay hot at home vs. Minnesota
- No. 21 Indiana knocks off No. 1 Purdue
- No. 18 Saint Mary's beats No. 12 Gonzaga
- No. 10 Texas rallies past No. 7 K-State
- No. 13 Iowa St. rolls over No. 8 Kansas
- Pedulla helps Va Tech down No. 6 UVa
No. 18 Ohio State seeks to remain unbeaten at home when it hosts Minnesota on Tuesday in Columbus, Ohio.
The Buckeyes (15-6, 8-4 Big Ten) have won all 10 of their home games this season, including four against conference opponents. They are heading into a juicy part of the schedule, beginning with the Golden Gophers (12-10, 3-10).
Because two postponed Big Ten games have been rescheduled, the Buckeyes will finish the regular season playing six of eight at home.
That's important in their quest for a conference title because they have struggled at times on the road. Ohio State, however, posted a 68-57 win at Michigan on Saturday to halt a two-game road losing streak which began after a 75-64 victory at Minnesota on Jan. 27.
The Buckeyes needed a turnaround versus Michigan and it got it in large part because of E.J. Liddell. He scored 28 points -- highlighted by making all 11 free throws -- to go along with five rebounds and three blocked shots.
Liddell's performance naturally drew praise from Ohio State coach Chris Holtmann, who touts his junior forward as the best player in the conference.
"Will somebody please, somebody outside of the people who follow our program, start talking about E.J. as a player of the year in this league?" Holtmann said. "He is deserving. He is deserving to be in that conversation as a player of the year. And I'm on him as much as everybody every day. But I don't hear his name mentioned. I don't know why I don't hear his name mentioned. Granted, we've got to keep winning. We've got to win more, whatever, but he's got to be mentioned in that conversation."
Michigan coach Juwan Howard didn't offer an endorsement, but he has certainly been following Liddell's career.
"He's a great example to learn from," Howard said. "I look back to Liddell's freshman year. It was my first year in coaching and he was a role player, and he wasn't as offensively efficient as he is now and each year he's gotten better and he's added more to his game."
Minnesota doesn't have a player with the star power of Liddell, but Eric Curry (22 points) and Payton Willis (18 points) combined for more than half the Gophers' points in a 76-60 win against Penn State on Saturday.
"We've been in close games all season against top teams in this league, but we just didn't make winning plays," Curry said. "(Saturday), we made winning plays that good programs do."
The Gophers had to overcome the psychological block of a 78-65 loss at Nebraska in the previous game in which the Cornhuskers shot 58 percent in the second half and scored 25 points off 18 turnovers. Minnesota reduced its turnovers to three against Penn State.
"We were shook at Nebraska," Minnesota coach Ben Johnson said. "I didn't care about the score or who we played. The challenge is we couldn't be who we were last game because that's not who we are. The mental strength and will they had to flip it to, this was a credit to those guys."
It remains to be seen if the Gophers can maintain that level of play against the Buckeyes.
-- Field Level Media
Updated February 14, 2022