The Ohio State men’s basketball season officially came to a close on Saturday after a tough battle against Purdue in the Big Ten Tournament semifinals. Although the Buckeyes won’t be heading to the NCAA tournament, there’s still plenty to reflect on and look forward to for next year.
🏀 A fighting finish
Despite struggles to close out games in the second half of the season, the Buckeyes made history in the Big Ten Tournament + ended the year with a fight. As a No. 13 seed, they defeated No. 12 Wisconsin, No. 5 Iowa, and No. 4 Michigan State to become the lowest seed in tournament history to make it to the semifinals.
🏀 The freshmen finesse
Throughout the season, the freshmen became intricate parts of the rotation, with all four freshmen — Bruce Thornton, Brice Sensabaugh, Roddy Gayle Jr., and Felix Okpara — starting multiple games together down the stretch.
Sensabaugh, who led the team in scoring with 16.3 points per game, suffered a knee injury during the tournament and was unable to play against Michigan State and Purdue over the weekend. While it’s speculated he could enter the NBA draft, it’s expected that Okpara, Thornton, and Gayle Jr. will all return next season. Here was their impact this year:
- Bruce Thornton started all 35 games as a point guard and took on a captain role in February. He averaged 10.6 points and 2.6 assists per game. Yesterday, he was named to the Big Ten All-Tournament team.
- Felix Okpara, who is almost 7 ft tall, stepped up in a major way when junior forward Zed Key had season-ending shoulder surgery. He led the team in blocks, averaging 1.3 per game.
- Roddy Gayle Jr. put up big numbers in the Big Ten Tournament, including 15 points against Michigan State and a career-high 20 points against Purdue.