COLUMBUS — Ohio State men’s basketball coach Chris Holtmann spoke with reporters following OSU’s 67-66 win at the buzzer over Rutgers Thursday night. Also speaking with the media were center Zed Key and guard Tanner Holden. Holden discussed hitting the game-winner and Key talked about his successful battle in the paint against a physical Rutgers frontcourt. Everything that was said can be found in the highlights below.
- Holtmann deadpan: “That was just how we drew it up.” Give Rutgers credit. They are a really good team. They were full strength tonight against the Ohio State. Older, physical team.
- They drew up two plays at the end based on a make or a miss of the free throw. Rutgers defended it well. Bruce Thornton made a poised play and Tanner Holden hit a big shot. “He’s a gamer. He’s made big shots his whole life. He made a game-winning reception in a state championship game.”
- Why go with Holden instead of Justice Sueing at the end? He is their best long inbounds passer in case they needed that sort of throw. They were anticipating both free throws being made. Rutgers took the play away at the end. The players made the play.
- They practice this situation in practice.
- Bruce Thornton is really tough. The plays he made defensively and the charge that he picked up were game-changing plays. As good by a freshman that he has coached. Those were critical plays. “He’s used to winning. He plays to win.” He understands what playing to win is. Those plays embodied that. He didn’t score that well in this game but he was engaged the entire night. He’s hard to take out of the lineup right now.
- Why were you so calm at the end of the game? “You want me to run around?” He just wanted to make sure the shot was good.
- They missed passing and decision making from Isaac Likekele and they missed his defense against bigger guards. “Our thoughts are with Isaac and his family.” No timetable on his return.
- Sense anything different from Zed Key? He knows how good the guy opposite him is. He’s a dominant college player.
- Brice Sensabaugh played hard defensively and that’s a good step for him. He wants to get better and he works on getting better defensively.
- Roddy Gayle will get more minutes while Isaac Likekele is out.
- The offense reacted well to Rutgers’ changing defenses. Bruce Thornton reacted well to it as well. His decision making was good. They wanted to be aggressive against their changing defenses. “We weren’t great…but I thought we were okay.” Especially considering the youth on the court at the time.
- Key was in the block on the final shot and it looked good for him the entire way.
- “My teammates found me in the right spots.” He’s played against Clifford Omoruyi before and it was another battle.
- OSU turned the ball over too much in the second half and that allowed Rutgers to get back into it. They knew Rutgers wasn’t going to roll over.
- Missing Isaac Likekele meant they were missing some intangibles and some rebounding, but guys stayed ready.
- Bruce Thornton plays like an older player.
- “It was actually pretty crazy.” They planned for Rutgers to make both free throws. Holden got open and threw up a shot. He couldn’t see if it went in but he heard the crowd explode and then his team mobbed him.
- You didn’t see the ball go in the net? I don’t know, honestly.
- What does this feel like for you? “It’s huge. For me it’s a confidence builder.” It’s a good building block for the team as well.
- How big was it to get this win at home at the start of conference play? It’s huge. Rutgers came in off of a win over Indiana. Guys had to step up with Ice Likekele out. They grinded it out.
- Going from a different team and conference it’s always an adjustment. This team has a bunch of guys that can score, so his time will come. “I’m still working hard.”
- Is he frustrated by his lack of minutes? “No, I’m not frustrated.” Before he entered the portal, he knew that minutes might be fewer than he’s grown accustomed to. The key is to stay ready. “I’m not frustrated by anything. We got a win tonight.”
- His last game-winner maybe came back in the fourth grade.
- Was he out of bounds? “I was in. No changing it now.”