Elijah Hawkins Scores Career-High 24 Points To Help Lead Minnesota Over Ohio State 88-79

Minnesota forward Pharrel Payne, right, works toward the basket as Ohio State center Felix Okpara, center left, defends during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Thursday, Feb. 22, 2024, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Abbie Parr)
Minnesota forward Pharrel Payne, right, works toward the basket as Ohio State center Felix Okpara, center left, defends during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Thursday, Feb. 22, 2024, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Abbie Parr)
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MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Elijah Hawkins scored 17 of his career-high 24 points in the second half, Dawson Garcia had 22 points and nine rebounds and Minnesota defeated Ohio State 88-79 on Thursday night.

Hawkins hit three of his four 3-pointers in the second half and finished with seven assists. Pharrel Payne added 15 points for the Golden Gophers (17-9, 8-7), who shot 50%, including 8 of 19 from the arc and outrebounded the Buckeyes 32-26 in gaining a split of the season series.

Bruce Thornton scored 25 points to lead Ohio State (15-12, 5-11). Jamison Battle, who played for the Gophers the previous two seasons, returned to Williams Arena as an opponent for the first time and scored 21 points. Roddy Gayle Jr. added 13 points. The Buckeyes shot 51% but cooled off from the arc in the second half at 2 of 12.

Ohio State was coming off a 73-69 win over then-No. 2 Purdue on Sunday in Jake Diebler’s first game as interim head coach following the firing of Chris Holtmann. But the Buckeyes went down to their 17th straight road loss, setting a program record. They haven't won a true road game since beating Northwestern 73-57 on Jan. 1 2023.

Minnesota never trailed and led 42-34 at halftime. Midway through the second half, Hawkins and Cam Christie hit consecutive 3-pointers to kick off a 15-5 run that gave the Gophers their largest lead of 17 with five minutes to go. Ohio State wouldn't get closer than seven thereafter, that coming on Battle's fifth 3-pointer with 18 seconds left.

Mike Mitchell Jr. and Garcia combined for the Golden Gophers' first 12 points and a 14-4 lead. The lead reached 13 before the Buckeyes rallied behind Battle and Scotty Middleton, who had a pair of 3s apiece in a 21-8 run to tie with five minutes left in the first half. The Gophers closed the half on a 10-2 run.

Felix Okpara blocked a shot for 33rd straight game, passing Greg Oden for second-best in Buckeyes history. He trails Ken Johnson (40).

Ohio State plays at Michigan State and Minnesota is at Nebraska in games Sunday.

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