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Mar 23, 2024 9:44 pm

Ohio State upends Va. Tech 81-73, earns NIT quarters

jamison battle

Jamison Battle led five Ohio State players in double-figure scoring with 21 points as Ohio State defeated Virginia Tech 81-73 in the second round of the NIT in Columbus, Ohio, on Saturday.

The Buckeyes (22-13) advanced to the quarterfinals against the winner of Sunday’s Georgia-Wake Forest game.

Felix Okpara had 13 points, Bruce Thornton and Dale Bonner each scored 12, and Roddy Gayle Jr. had 11 for the Buckeyes.

Hunter Cattoor and Sean Pedulla each scored 18 points and Lynn Kidd added 13 for the Hokies (19-15).

Ohio State held a 12-point lead five minutes into the second half but the Hokies pulled to within 67-64 with under five minutes left before Battle made a pair of free throws.

He followed with a defensive rebound and the Buckeyes went the other way and took a 71-64 lead on a dunk by Okpara with under three minutes to play. Okpara then made one of two free throws.

Jayden Young canned two free throws to make it 72-66 with 1:31 left for the Hokies’ first points in 3:20 but Gayle drove the lane for a 74-66 lead and the Buckeyes closed it out from there.

Battle, who was second in the Big Ten this season with 87 made 3-pointers, missed all five attempts but made 17 of 18 free throws.

The Buckeyes are 8-2 since Jake Diebler was named interim head coach on Feb. 14 when Chris Holtmann was fired. This was Diebler’s second game since being named permanent head coach on Feb. 17.

Considering their start, the Buckeyes were happy to get to halftime with a 36-26 lead. Virginia Tech looked comfortable from the onset and took a 7-0 lead before Gayle hit a 3-pointer to break the ice for Ohio State.

The Buckeyes went ahead for the first time at 14-12 and soon after went on a 15-2 tear for their largest lead, 34-21, with two minutes left. During the nearly four-minute span, the Hokies missed six of seven shots.

–Field Level Media

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