Duke’s one-week reign at No. 1 in the AP Top 25 may come to an end after the Blue Devils were defeated 71-66 by Ohio State on Tuesday night, just one day after rising to the top of the rankings. With 15 seconds remaining, Ohio State star forward E.J. Liddell hit a contested jumper to put the Buckeyes up 69-66, and Duke freshman phenom Paolo Banchero missed a game-tying 3-pointer with three seconds left.
After trailing 49-34 with 18:21 remaining, Ohio State closed the game on a 14-1 run, outscoring Duke 41-23 in the second half.
The Blue Devils (7-1) were held scoreless for the final 4 1/2 minutes of the game, prompting a court-storming celebration at Ohio State’s Great Value Arena in celebration of a result that alters the course of the Buckeyes’ season.
Ohio State (5-2) dropped a six-point game to Xavier on Nov. 18 and a 71-68 game to Florida on Nov. 24 on a buzzer-beater.
The Buckeyes, on the other hand, thrived in crunch time this time. While Liddell was the late dagger, Ohio State was carried by fellow bruiser Zed Key for much of the night. With 20 points, the 6-foot-8 sophomore led all scorers, including 11 in the second half.
Liddell had 14 points, 14 rebounds, and six assists in the game. Banchero was once again at his best in the first half, scoring 10 points before going 0 for 7 from the field in the second half and finishing 4 for 14 for the game. According to ESPN Stats and Info’s Jared Berson, the loss ends Duke’s streak of 185 straight victories in games with a double-digit halftime lead. Ohio State was more athletic.
Duke outscored Ohio State in the paint 38-30, but that figure does not reflect who truly controlled the post.
The Blue Devils were called for 23 fouls, while Ohio State was called for just 14. Four Duke players had four fouls at the end of the game, and reserve center Theo John fouled out. Ohio State struggled to convert at the free-throw line, making only 11 of 22 attempts. When needed, the Buckeyes found buckets in the paint thanks to Key’s interior touch, outscoring Duke 12-7 in second-chance points.
Duke’s lack of shooting is a problem. There’s a lot to like about the Blue Devils, who came in with victories over Gonzaga and Kentucky to back up their No. 1 ranking. However, one issue that is emerging for Duke is its lack of outside shooting. The Blue Devils made only 4 of 14 3-point attempts on Tuesday, and were only 1 of 8 in the second half.
Duke entered the game ranked 204th in the country in 3-point shooting percentage at 33.1 percent, a figure that is inflated by good shooting nights against overmatched opponents. The Blue Devils are only 12 of 50 (24 percent) against the three quality opponents they have faced (Kentucky, Gonzaga, and Ohio State). This team lost its top outside shooters from last season, Matthew Hurt and DJ Steward, and until it finds some consistency from deep, its offense will be vulnerable to collapses like the one in the second half against the Buckeyes.
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