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Rutgers coming off scare, faces tough foe in Ohio State


After surviving scares in their final nonconference games, Rutgers and host Ohio State can focus solely on the Big Ten again beginning Wednesday in Columbus.

Rutgers (8-4, 0-1 Big Ten) needed a 3-pointer by Derek Simpson with 15 seconds left for a 59-58 win over lowly Stonehill (2-13) on Saturday to avoid an embarrassing home loss.

Scarlet Knights forward Aundre Hyatt said coach Steve Pikiell had a simple postgame message.

“He was like, ‘A win is a win,’ we’ve got to move on to Ohio State and get ready for them because it’s a whole different weight class, the Big Ten,” Hyatt said.

The Buckeyes (11-2) won their third straight, downing West Virginia 78-75 in overtime in Cleveland on Saturday in a game that gave Ohio State flashbacks to its conference loss at Penn State on Dec. 9.

In that game, they led by 18 points in the second half. Ohio State was up 14 on West Virginia in the first half and had a 61-53 lead with 5:13 left to play but couldn’t close it out.

However, sophomore guard Roddy Gayle’s career-high 32 points helped seal the win.

“It’s tough to get him rattled at any moment,” Ohio State coach Chris Holtmann said. “He’s always been that way. He’s got a disposition about him where sometimes you’re like, ‘Let’s go, Roddy.’ It’s just how he is as a player. I love that about him. In a game like this, you kind of need it because he’s really steady.”

The Buckeyes will be wary of Rutgers trying to rattle them with zone defenses, as Penn State did to rally. West Virginia coach Josh Eilert noticed and used the same tactic to mount a comeback.

“Watching the Penn State game, coming down from behind 18 and finding a way to win, using that zone was certainly one of the reasons why we went to it early and often,” he said.

The Buckeyes were 2 for 15 on 3-pointers (13.3 percent) in the first half and finished 11 of 34 (32.4 percent) vs. West Virginia.

–Field Level Media

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