March 14, 2023

Big Ten Tournament Look Back


Ohio State surprised a lot of people in its run at the 2023 Big Ten Tournament, and even accomplished a couple of firsts along the way. Below is a look back on the week that was in Chicago.

First 13 Seed to the semifinals

  • Ohio State had lost 14 of 15 games over the course of the final two months of the regular season and finished with a 5-15 record in the Big Ten. That left them in 13th place in conference standings.
  • With its three wins over 12-seed Wisconsin, 5-seed Iowa and 4-seed Michigan State, Ohio State became the first No. 13 seed to reach the semifinals of the tournament.
  • The Buckeyes were also the first team to open play on Wednesday and reach Saturday’s semifinals

Bruce Thornton — All-Tournament Team

  • Freshman point guard Bruce Thornton had a tremendous first season and it culminated at the Big Ten Tournament as he was named to the five-member All-Tournament Team.
  • He joins Greg Oden, Mike Conley, and Jared Sullinger as the fourth freshman in program history to receive the honor and he is just the 10th freshmen overall on the All-Tournament Team.
  • Thornton averaged 15.5 points, 4.3 assists, 1.3 steals and just 1.0 turnovers per game while shooting over 46 percent from the field.
  • He had 15 assists and zero turnovers over the finals three games of the week
  • This all came while running point for an average of 35 minutes per game


Hello Roddy Gayle Jr!!

  • Those who watched the team closely throughout the season could see the confidence growing in freshman Roddy Gayle Jr. The Niagara Falls, N.Y. native finally showed the country what he could do.
  • Gayle came into the tournament averaging just 3.7 points per game with 12 total three-pointers and shooting under 40 percent.
  • In the four games in Chicago, Gayle averaged 12.0 points per game while shooting 64 percent from the floor and making nine three-pointers
  • Against Purdue in the semifinals, he made his first five three-pointers and finished with a season-high 20 points.
  • That followed a 15-point effort in the win over Michigan State where he scored nine points in the final eight minutes.
  • Those were just his second and third double-figure games of the season.
  • He was 9-of-11 from three-point range in the four games and also tied for the team-lead with five steals

Justice Sueing Finishes in Style

  • Justice Sueing had a bit of an up and down season, but he finished on a high note in Chicago
  • The two-time captain scored in double figures in all four big 10 tournament games and was in double figures in each of the final seven games of the season.
  • He averaged 14.8 points per game and was 10-of-19 from distance for an average of 52.6 percent in the tournament. He was just 18-of-78 (23.1 percent) from long range entering the tournament
  • Sueing was also 13-of-16 from the free throw line and finished the year making 32 his final 35 free throw attempts
  • In eight career Big Ten Tournament games, Sueing averaged 14.0 points, 5.3 rebounds and was 32-of-43 from the free throw line. That included a 22-point game in the championship game against Illinois in 2021


McNeil Was Hot Early

  • Sean McNeil gave the Buckeyes a boost in the opener against Wisconsin, making 3-of-4 three-point attempts and finishing with a team-high 17 points
  • He made three more three-pointers in the win over Iowa to go along with three assists and zero turnovers
  • Against Michigan State, he played an OSU high 39:10 minutes, scoring five points, grabbing a career-high six rebounds and again recording three assists and zero steals


Felix Okpara Showing Glimpses of Brilliance

  • Freshmen big man Felix Okpara continued his impressive season in the Big Ten Tournament
  • He averaged 5.0 points, 5.3 rebounds and 2.3 blocks while shooting almost 53 percent from the floor
  • His best game came against Michigan State as he scored eight points, pulled-down eight rebounds and tied an OSU Big Ten Tournament record with five blocks
  • Okpara had at least one block in each of the four games and finished the season with 44 total blocks

Team Notes

  • The Buckeyes averaged 13.3 assists per game, including dishing-out 17 assists in the win over Iowa
  • The team shot well from deep, making 33-of-74 attempts for an average of 44.6 percent. They limited the opposition to just 18-of-70 (25.7 percent) from long range.
  • The Buckeyes made 10 three-pointers in the last two games and would finish the season with just five games of 10 or more make from distance
  • The win over Wisconsin averaged a loss in the lone regular season meeting of the season as the Badgers won in Columbus on Feb. 2
  • The win over Michigan State avoided a three-game season sweep as the Spartans won both regular season meetings, including an 84-78 victory just six days earlier in East Lansing
  • Ohio State committed just five turnovers vs. Michigan State, tying the program record for the fewest turnovers in a Big Ten Tournament game. Interestingly enough, the other two times OSU committed just five turnovers in a BTT game also came against Michigan State
  • In the wins over Iowa and Michigan State, the Buckeyes lost the rebounding battle but still won the game. Those were the only two games all season in which OSU was out-rebounding and still won. They were 2-12 on the year when finishing with less rebounds