In a thrilling opening matchup of the NIT tournament, the Ohio State Buckeyes managed to outlast the Cornell Big Red in an 88-83 victory. The game showcased a clash of styles, with Cornell’s unorthodox approach posing a formidable challenge to the Buckeyes from start to finish.

Right out of the gate, Cornell implemented a relentless full-court press, applying defensive pressure that tested Ohio State’s ball-handling and decision-making. This defensive strategy, coupled with Cornell’s backdoor cut Princeton-style offense and quick three-point attempts, kept the Buckeyes on their toes throughout the contest.

Despite Ohio State’s superior athleticism, Cornell’s sharpshooting from beyond the arc proved to be a significant factor, as they drained 12 three-pointers, making it difficult for the Buckeyes to maintain pace, especially considering their struggles with finishing at the rim.

Throughout the second half, Ohio State appeared poised to pull away, but Cornell consistently answered with clutch shots to keep the score tight. The game witnessed a total of 17 lead changes, with the 17th and final lead change ultimately favoring Ohio State, securing their hard-fought victory.

Notably, this win extends Ohio State’s unbeaten streak against Ivy League opponents since 1994. Moreover, the game marked Jake Diebler’s inaugural match as the head coach without the interim label, a milestone underscored by his team’s determination in the final minute of play when it looked like Cornell might pull off the upset.

Leading the charge for Ohio State in scoring were Jamison Battle and Roddy Gayle Jr., each contributing 17 points. Felix Okpara added 16 points to the scoreboard, while Devin Royal provided a significant boost off the bench with 13 points.

In addition to their offensive prowess, the Buckeyes dominated the boards, out-rebounding the Big Red by a commanding margin of 51-32, including an impressive 22 offensive rebounds.

Looking ahead, Ohio State will eagerly await their second-round opponent, which will be determined by the outcome of the Virginia Tech versus Richmond game.