With the game tied at 70, having just finished off a 10-0 to tie a game that No. 5 seed Ohio State appeared to be in complete control of, No. 12 seed South Dakota State, on back-to-back possessions in the final two minutes, fouled Kam Williams shooting a three-pointer.
On the first three, Williams made the three, meaning that all their work erasing a lead was for naught. The Buckeyes took control of the game, led 77-70 and cruised to an 81-73 win to advance to the second round of the NCAA tournament.
They will take on No. 4 Gonzaga, who had trouble of their own getting out of the first round.
The Zags needed a three from Zach Norvell in the final minute to break a tie and advance past No. 13 UNC Greensboro.
Keita Bates-Diop led the way for the Buckeyes with 24 points and 12 boards, but he didn’t play his best finishing 7-for-19 from the floor with a 4-for-13 shooting performance from beyond the arc. Williams added 22 points and C.J. Jackson chipped in with 20 points, nine boards and five assists.
The game played out like most expected, as Ohio State had trouble defending SDSU’s all-american center Mike Daum early on. Their adjustment was to play Bates-Diop at the five, setting up a fascinating coaching chess match, as SDSU head coach T.J. Otzelberger tried to hide Daum on one of Ohio State’s lesser offensive weapons.
The result ended up being a game that featured precisely zero interior presence. All told, 71 threes were fired up in this game — that tied an NCAA record — while the Buckeyes were able to make just enough plays down the stretch to get the win.