Freshman Roddy Gayle Jr. scored 12 of his career-high 15 points in the second half to help fatigued and shorthanded Ohio State continue its improbable run with a 68-58 victory against Michigan State in a Big Ten tournament quarterfinal on Friday in Chicago.
The No. 13 seed Buckeyes (16-18) played their third game in as many days. No team that played on Wednesday also played on Saturday since the tournament expanded to its current 14 teams in 2015.
Ohio State defeated 12th-seeded Wisconsin on Wednesday and fifth-seeded Iowa on Thursday.
The Buckeyes will play No. 1 seed Purdue in the semifinals on Saturday.
Another freshman, Bruce Thornton, scored 21 points and Justice Sueing added 14 points for the Buckeyes, who hit 10 of 19 3-pointers.
The Buckeyes were dealt a blow before the game when forward Brice Sensabaugh was ruled out with a sore knee. He is averaging a team-best 16.3 points to go along with 5.4 rebounds and 1.2 assists in 33 games.
The freshman scored 16 points on 8-of-14 shooting in 27 minutes during a 73-69 victory over fifth-seeded Iowa on Thursday. He is the fourth nationally in freshman scoring. Ohio State coach Chris Holtmann told the Big Ten Network pregame that Sensibaugh, a likely one-and-done player, was injured late against Iowa.
“He’s in the process of still being evaluated,” Holtmann said. “Tests are being done. We’ll go from there.”
Ohio State was already without forward Zed Key (10.8 ppg., 7.5 rpg.) for an eighth straight game after season-ending shoulder surgery on March 1.
Joey Hauser scored 15 points for the Spartans (19-12), who as the fourth seed had a double bye to the quarterfinals. The Buckeyes used 51.9 percent shooting from the floor to take 33-24 halftime lead while their defense limited the Spartans to 1 of 9 (11.1 percent) from 3-point range.
Ohio State was just the third No. 13 seed to advance to the quarterfinals. The lowest seed to play in the Big Ten title game was No. 8 Michigan, which won the 2017 championship. — Field Level Media