PORTLAND, Ore. – In the battle between Chris Holtmann’s past and present, yesterday got the better of today.
Ohio State (5-2) led by as many at 15 points during the second half but blew a 15-point lead against Holtmann’s former team and lost, 67-66, in overtime at Veterans Memorial Coliseum. The loss gives the Buckeyes a sixth-place finish in the Motion Bracket of the PK80 Invitational and a 1-2 record in Portland after opening the tournament with a loss to Gonzaga.
The Buckeyes led 54-41 with 3:51 to play, but Butler came roaring back. When Kelan Martin hit a pair of free throws with 1:13 to play, Butler was back within one possession at 59-56 for the first time since the first half. Andre Wesson missed a three-pointer from the left corner, and after Martin missed a game-tying three the Bulldogs came up with the rebound and called timeout with 30.0 seconds left and 24 seconds on the shot clock.
They got a three-pointer from Kamar Baldwin with 14.3 seconds remaining to tie the game, and the Buckeyes brought the ball upcourt and called timeout with 8.8 seconds left. C.J. Jackson stepped on the baseline with 4.3 seconds left for his only turnover of the half, and Baldwin airballed a three at the buzzer to send the game to overtime. Butler closed the half on an 18-3 run as the Buckeyes went the final 2:09without a point and 5:31 without a field goal.
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Jackson hit two free throws with 59.4 seconds left in overtime to give the Buckeyes a 66-65 lead, but Baldwin’s drive and score with 3.8 to play was the final basket. Jackson’s half-court heave at the buzzer came up well short.
For all of the off-court storylines and intrigue surrounding the game, the action itself didn’t quite live up to the hype until the final moments. Ohio State took a 24-21 lead into the locker room despite committing 11 turnovers and leading 20-12 with 6:02 left in the half on a Musa Jallow dunk. It would be more than five minutes until the Buckeyes would score again, when a Keita Bates-Diop basket reclaimed the lead at 22-21 with 55 seconds remaining.
Jackson added a floater on Ohio State’s next possession for his first points to set the halftime score. He had five of Ohio State’s first-half turnovers and earned some extra words from Holtmann before heading into the locker room.
Butler missed 12 of its 13 first-half three-pointers and only turned Ohio State’s 11 turnovers into six points.
Holtmann entered the arena all smiles as his players took the court for their final warm-ups. He made the short walk from the concourse to the team bench with just one boo coming from a Butler fan, while assistant coach Terry Johnson – who was at Butler for 13 years – had a Bulldogs fan rush out of crowd to give him a hug. Holtmann crossed over to the Butler bench and went down the line, hugging and shaking hands with each member of the Butler coaching staff before returning to his own bench.
Holtmann benefitted from the layout of the arena, which put the Butler cheering section at the opposite corner from the Ohio State bench. That kept any potential confrontations to a minimum, although he did receive significant pregame boos when his name was announced as the coach of the Buckeyes.
Things don’t slow down much for the Buckeyes after playing three games in three days. Ohio State will host Clemson on Wednesday night for the ACC-Big Ten Challenge before going to Wisconsin on Saturday for its Big Ten opener.