Ohio State’s basketball season is not finished yet.
Thanks to Jaquan Lyle and Marc Loving, who both had 18 points and career highs in rebounds, the Buckeyes downed Akron 72-63 in overtime in a first-round NIT game Tuesday night.
There were a lot of things the game wasn’t for Ohio State — pretty, well-attended or easy.
“At this point of the season you don’t have to play perfect as long as you win,” Ohio State coach Thad Matta said.
And win the Buckeyes did, even without the services of starting forward Keita Bates-Diop, who missed the game due to illness.
Kam Williams also had 18 points for the Buckeyes (21-13), who outscored the Zips 10-1 in overtime. Lyle had 14 rebounds and Loving 13 to give Ohio State a 57-42 advantage on the boards.
The Buckeyes advance to play Florida in a second-round game at home at 12 p.m., Sunday.
Only 4,698 fans showed up for the game at Value City Arena, which holds 18, 809, but the fans that were there added to the atmosphere.
“It was fun to get out there and play basketball again,” Lyle said, “another opportunity to get to play the game we love to play. A couple of times it got really loud for that many people there, so I think it was a good turnout.”
Akron (26-9), looking to set a school record for wins, got 16 points and 12 rebounds from Isaiah Johnson, but he was just 6-of-16 from the foul line. Reggie McAdams had 12 points and 11 boards.
The game featured 23 lead changes and 10 ties but the Zips missed all seven of their field-goal attempts in overtime and went 1-of-6 from the foul line.
Ohio State made 21 of 23 free throws while Akron was 8-of-20.
Akron, which shoots 39 percent behind the arc, put up 42 3-pointers, one shy of the school record but made only nine (21 percent).
“If you would have told me we would have shot 9-for-42 from three, with the shots we got, I’d tell you I’d be surprised,” Akron coach Keith Dambrot said. “That was probably a determining factor. I won’t make any excuses but I think playing four games in six days caught us.”
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