November 9, 2021

Key’s Lay-up at the Buzzer Beats Akron in the Opener


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COLUMBUS, Ohio – Ohio State was pushed to the brink in the season-opener vs. a very tough Akron team, but sophomore Zed Key’s lay-up with less than a second left lifted the Buckeyes past the visiting Zips 67-66.

E.J. Liddell led the Buckeyes with his fifth career double, notching 25 points and 11 rebounds. The 25 points were one shy of his career high.

Key’s late lay-in gave him a career-high tying 14 points. He was 7-of-11 from the floor and finished with five rebounds and a pair of blocks.

Freshman Malaki Branham made his Buckeye debut and played big minutes down the stretch. He hit a game-tying three with 5:30 to play, had a twisting driving lay-in with 1:27 left in the game that gave the Buckeyes the lead and assisted on Key’s game-winner.

Senior captain Justin Ahrens knocked-down a pair of threes and finished with seven points and three assists.

The Buckeyes shot 50 percent in the opening half and used a 17-4 run to take a 31-19 lead. Akron closed to within eight at the break and then scored the first eight points of the second half to pull even at 36-36.

The final 14 minutes were played within a three-point spread both ways. A dunk and a lay-in by Key put the Buckeyes in front 65-62 with 22 seconds left. Akron then hit a three and was fouled on the play, eventually converting the four-point play to take a 66-65 lead with just six seconds to play. After a timeout at midcourt, Branham bulleted a pass to Key near the rim and he laid it in to give the Buckeyes a season-opening victory.


  • The Buckeyes are now 101-21 in season-openers and 104-17 in the home opener
  • Head coach Chris Holtmann is 5-0 in season-openers at Ohio State and 9-2 all-time in his career
  • J. Liddell notched the fifth double-double of his career with 25 points and 11 rebounds. It was also his second consecutive game with a double-double as he had 23 points and 14 rebounds vs. Oral Roberts in the NCAA Tournament.
  • This is the first time in Liddell’s career in which he had a double-double in back-to-back games
  • Liddell’s seven offensive rebounds were also a career-high
  • Zed Key tied his career-high with 14 points

Up Next

The Buckeyes will remain at home this week and host Niagara on Friday night, Nov. 12. Tip-off is set for 7 p.m. This will be the first game all-time between the two teams. Niagara head coach Greg Paulus served as video coordinator at Ohio State from 2011-13 and was then promoted to assistant coach in 2013, a role he held for four seasons.