It was bittersweet to see Ohio State Buckeyes lose to Illinois in the Big Ten Tournament. They battled and battled against Illinois but came up short. Ohio State led as many as 10 points. The team was rolling but Illinois came back and did enough to win the game. However, there’s the NIT Tournament. Ohio State survives and comes through in clutch moments to defeat Cornell, 88-83 on Tuesday night. 

Ohio State got off to a slow start. Lackluster defense and not even urgency. The Buckeyes started to pick it up halfway in the first half and most parts of the second half. Both teams did a good job moving and sharing the ball, but the Buckeyes played like champions down the stretch and did enough to come away with a victory. 

Four different Buckeyes hit double-figures, with guard Roddy Gayle Jr and forward Jamison Battle leading the way with 17 points. Felix Okpara picked up a career-high 16 points with seven rebounds and three blocks while Royal added 13 points. Ohio State dominated the rebound game (46-29), 21 of them were offensive rebounds. Ohio State needs to improve their free throws for the next game because they made just 59% of them against Cornell. 

The Buckeyes scored nine of the game’s next 11 points. Impressive win by the Buckeyes. What’s next? They are moving to the second round of the NIT, where they’ll host No. 3 seed Virginia Tech (19-14) on Saturday.

Bruce Thornton left the game with 10:18 to play. Supposedly it’s an ankle sprain. His status for the second round of the NIT is unclear. We need to wait for more details. 

Regardless of what happens with Ohio State, it was a great last few weeks to see them play this well under a new head coach. Ohio State signed Jake Diebler to a five-year deal. In his first game as interim head coach, Diebler led Ohio State to a 73-69 win over then-No. 2 Purdue. 

If I were Ohio State, I would carry this momentum into next season. We need to see Ohio State get back into the NCAA Tournament. Ohio State missed the NCAA tournament for the second straight season. The Buckeyes haven’t been out of the first weekend of the tournament since 2013. 

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