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Minnesota clutch at foul line in downing Ohio State

Jan 12, 2023; Columbus, Ohio, USA;  Minnesota Golden Gophers forward Dawson Garcia (3) collides with Ohio State Buckeyes center Felix Okpara (34) during the first half at Value City Arena. Mandatory Credit: Joseph Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports

Ta’Lon Cooper made the go-ahead free throw with 1.7 seconds left as Minnesota surprised Ohio State 70-67 in Columbus, Ohio, on Thursday night.

Cooper was fouled by Bruce Thornton and missed the first foul shot for the Gophers (7-8, 1-4 Big Ten), who ended a two-game losing streak.

After he made the second, the Buckeyes (10-6, 2-3) threw the ball away in suffering their third straight loss.

Minnesota’s Dawson Garcia was fouled and made two free throws with 1.4 seconds left to tie his career high with 28 points for the final score as the Buckeyes were unable to get a shot off before the buzzer.

Cooper had 13 points and Jamison Battle 11 for Minnesota.

Minnesota was up 67-62 with 38 seconds left before Brice Sensabaugh made a 3-pointer and then two free throws to tie it with 8 seconds left.

Sensabaugh led the Buckeyes with 18 points and Justice Sueing added 10.

Ohio State took just its second lead of the game, 51-50, on Sensabaugh’s free throw with 13:06 to play, but Minnesota responded with 10 straight points over the next five minutes.

The Buckeyes saw the return of Zed Key, third on the team in scoring (12.4 ppg) and first in rebounds (7.8 rpg). He left early in the loss to Purdue on Jan. 5 with a shoulder sprain and did not play last Sunday at Maryland. He had 10 points and eight rebounds.

Minnesota led by double-digits in the first half but carried only a 37-35 lead into the break thanks to Garcia’s 12 points.

Ohio State trailed 19-10 before scoring the next five points. The Gophers went up eight, 29-21, before the Buckeyes finally caught them at 35-35 with 59 seconds left on McNeil’s three free throws.

Cooper’s jumper 20 seconds later provided Minnesota the final points of the half. The Gophers hit 55.6 percent from the floor through 20 minutes, the Buckeyes 35.3 percent.

The Buckeyes play Sunday at Rutgers. Minnesota hosts Illinois on Monday.

–Field Level Media