For more than 59 minutes in Madison Square Garden on Saturday evening, Notre Dame was the better basketball team on the court, but in the final 58 seconds, the Ohio State Buckeyes reminded everyone of why they are a top-5 team in the country.
Trailing 58-50 with just those 58 ticks left, the Buckeyes scored a staggering fourteen points to just 3 for the Irish, and senior guard Lenzelle Smith, Jr. added 9 on his own to push OSU to a 64-61 victory. As is the case for any comeback of this magnitude, the Buckeyes did receive some serious “help” from Notre Dame, as the unranked Irish committed 3 turnovers and missed 2 free throws in the final minute, but it did seem as if OSU just refused to lose.
Forward LaQuinton Ross led the way for the Buckeyes statistically, scoring 16 points and grabbing 11 rebounds, but it was a very balanced effort for the team overall. All 5 starters scored 9+ points for OSU, and All-American candidate Aaron Craft played his typical lockdown defense on Notre Dame freshman Demetrius Jackson, holding him to just 1-for-6 shooting in the game.
It’s dangerous to glean too much from any game played in December (especially on a neutral court, etc.), but all of the “grit” that Ohio State famously displays popped up in this spot, and with the win, the Buckeyes remain unblemished with a 12-0 record and a top-5 national ranking.