No. 25 Ohio State escaped defeat in stunning fashion against Rutgers on Thursday after Buckeyes guard Tanner Holden nailed a buzzer-beating, game-winning 3-pointer to stun the Scarlet Knights 67-66 in front of a rocking home crowd on Thursday night at Value City Arena.
The wild sequence all started when Rutgers' Caleb McConnell went to the free-throw stripe with five seconds to go and the Scarlet Knights leading 65-64. McConnell made the first free-throw but missed the next one short, dropping a rebound into the hands of Ohio State's Brice Sensabaugh. Sensabaugh then found a streaking Bruce Thornton up the court, setting up the game's most important assist.
Thornton got the ball to Holden with only a second remaining, which was more than enough time as Holden knocked down the buzzer-beating, game-winning 3-pointer.
The shot officially counted. Unofficially, though? It should not have. As you can see in the replay above, Holden very clearly was out of bounds just prior to fielding the pass from Thornton before draining the game-winner. That puts him in violation of the rule that says a player cannot step out of bounds then return to the court and be the first person to touch the ball after returning back inbounds.
"No," said Ohio State coach Chris Holtmann when asked if he was worried about whether Holden's shot would count and whether he was or was not inbounds. "It's a live ball. Officials are going to make the right call, miss some calls. It's going to even out. In that moment it was an emotional moment. I just wanted to make sure it was over."
On replay you can even see as Ohio State is celebrating that Rutgers coaches and players immediately saw Holden had violated the rule but the violation was not called.
"I thought [he was out] because he was right in front of me," said Rutgers coach Steve Pikiell of the play. "I have not seen any photos of anything. Just disappointing. Tough way to lose. It's life here in the Big Ten. I'm not sure about the sideline thing, I thought he clearly was [out of bounds], but again I didn't see anything."
The game-winning shot happened to be Holden's first make in three shooting attempts for the game.
"Hopefully they don't go back and change it," Holden told reporters after the game.
Zed Key led Ohio State with 22 points on 9-of-12 shooting to go along with 14 rebounds. Rutgers Clifford Omoruyi recorded 16 points on 7-of-10 shooting, adding eight rebounds and two blocks in a losing effort.
The win was Ohio State's first in Big Ten play this season and brought the team's record to 7-2. Rutgers, meanwhile, dropped to 6-3 and 1-1 in conference play after the undeniably painful loss.