INDIANAPOLIS — Duane Washington Jr. and Justice Sueing each scored 16 points and No. 9 Ohio State fended off Minnesota’s late charge to win 79-75 on Thursday at the Big Ten Tournament.
The Buckeyes (19-8) snapped a four-game losing streak and advanced to Friday’s quarterfinal round.
Marcus Carr scored 24 points and Jamal Mashburn Jr. finished with 18 to lead Minnesota (14-15), which lost for the eighth time in nine games.
Ohio State never trailed after taking a 13-0 lead to open the game, but struggled to put this one away late — despite having a seemingly safe 70-56 lead with 3:24 to go.
A rash of errant shots, fouls and turnovers allowed the Gophers to come back quickly, cutting the deficit to 75-74 on Carr’s 3-pointer with 13.3 seconds to go before Ohio State finally sealed it at the free-throw line.
This one almost got away from Minnesota quickly. The Gophers opened the game with a scoring drought of nearly seven minutes.
When Minnesota’s shooters did warm up, the Gophers fought back.
Mashburn’s first 3-pointer cut the deficit to 24-20 late in the first half, but Ohio State countered with an 11-2 spurt and extended its lead to 39-27 at halftime.
Minnesota: While the dreadful start doomed the short-handed Gophers, they fought hard. They just didn’t have enough bodies or scorers to stay with the Buckeyes. Now comes the hard part — figuring out whether the program can turn the corner and whether coach Richard Pitino will be part of the solution.
Ohio State: The Buckeyes were far from perfect in their tourney opener but they showed grit and, at times, why they are a top-10 team. But they were sloppy, too, and coach Chris Holtmann knows his team must play better this weekend if it hopes to capture the school’s fifth tourney title.
Minnesota: Tre’ Williams had 11 points and eight rebounds. … Brandon Johnson finished with seven points and eight rebounds despite landing hard on his lower back twice during the game. … Liam Robbins (ankle) missed his sixth consecutive game and Gabe Kalscheur (broken finger) sat out for the eighth straight game. … The Golden Gophers missed their first eight shots, including six 3s.
Ohio State: Sueing had seven rebounds and C.J. Walker had 10 points, six rebounds and six assists. … E.J. Liddell had 14 points, five rebounds and four assists. … The Buckeyes outscored Minnesota 44-34 in the paint. … Ohio State is 2-0 in Lucas Oil Stadium. It beat No. 7 Notre Dame in the building in December 2008. … The Buckeyes won their last tourney crown in 2013.
Minnesota: Faces an offseason of uncertainty.
Ohio State: Takes on No. 21 Purdue in Friday’s second quarterfinal game.
More AP college basketball coverage: https://apnews.com/Collegebasketball and http://twitter.com/AP_Top25