With just 58 seconds remaining, it looked as if the Ohio State Buckeyes were going to be knocked from the ranks of the unbeaten.
No. 3 OSU trailed Notre Dame, 58-50, but used a 14-3 run over the final minute of play to beat the Irish, 64-61, in the Gotham Classic at Madison Square Garden.
OSU’s leading scorer, senior guard Lenzelle Smith, Jr., did not enter the scoring column until the final minute of the game. His nine points just before the final buzzer coupled with a free throw by senior guard Aaron Craft with three seconds left helped the Buckeyes hold on to win.
The Buckeyes (12-0, 0-0) led 33-26 at halftime after shooting 50 percent from the field and holding Notre Dame to just 34.4 percent shooting in the opening 20 minutes.
But the Buckeyes would hit a dry spell in the second half, going nearly nine minutes without a field goal. That allowed the Irish to take an eight-point lead.
Back-to-back baskets by junior center Amir Williams and junior forward LaQuinton Ross cut the lead to four, but the Irish (8-4, 0-0) were able to extend the lead back to eight before giving up the late run to OSU that cost it the game.
Four turnovers and a missed free throw allowed OSU to regain control for good.
Ross led the Buckeyes with 16 points and 11 rebounds, and Williams added 13 of his own. Craft and junior guard Shannon Scott chipped in with 10 each.
The Buckeyes are scheduled to return home Dec. 27 against Louisiana-Monroe (3-3, 0-0). Tipoff is set for 7 p.m. at the Schottenstein Center.