Meechie Johnson Jr. hit a 3-pointer with 2.3 seconds left to lift Ohio State to a 79-76 win over No. 21 Seton Hall in the Fort Myers (Fla.) Tip-Off on Monday.
The freshman guard was five feet behind the line for the Buckeyes (4-1) when he launched the shot after Jamir Harris’ steal and layup with 14 seconds left drew Seton Hall (3-1) even at 76.
Seton Hall had a final chance, but a 3-point attempt by Tyrese Samuel from near midcourt was off-target.
E.J. Liddell led the Buckeyes with 28 points, Justin Ahrens had 17 and Kyle Young 12. Johnson scored eight points.
Ohio State will meet No. 23 Florida, a 80-60 winner over California, in the final on Wednesday. The Pirates will oppose the Bears in the consolation game.
Jared Rhoden scored a career-high 29 points for Seton Hall and Bryce Aiken added 16.
Liddell had 16 points and Ahrens made all three 3-pointers among his 11 points when Ohio State took a 40-35 halftime lead. Rhoden scored 16 points.
There was a bizarre scene that played out with 8:59 left in the first half after Seton Hall’s Myles Cale stole the ball from Jimmy Sotos and scored. Cales went to the floor awkwardly as the Buckeyes headed the other way.
While Johnson was making a 3-pointer, the arena lights went out and the basket was disallowed, keeping the Pirates ahead 24-19. Meanwhile, Cale left the court under his own power, but the Pirates’ third-leading scorer (11.3 per game) was ruled out for the remainder of the game with a lower-body injury.
The six-minute delay did wonders for the Buckeyes, who took a 38-28 lead on a Sotos 3 at the 3:12 mark as part of a 19-4 run before Seton Hall made a late spurt to pull to within five at the break.
Earlier in the day, the Buckeyes dropped out of the Top 25 for the first time in 25 polls following a 71-65 loss at Xavier on Friday. Seton Hall benefitted from defeating Michigan to make its first appearance in the rankings this season.
–Field Level Media
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