By BRIAN DULIK Associated Press

CLEVELAND (AP)– The return of E.J. Liddell helped Ohio State bounce back from its lone loss of the season.

Liddell had nine points and three rebounds after missing out on two games with a health problem, enabling No. 20 Ohio State to hold off UCLA 77-70 at the CBS Sports Classic on Saturday.

The sophomore forward, who leads the Buckeyes in points and rebounds, had been sidelined considering that Dec. 8 with a condition unrelated to COVID-19. He played 19 minutes prior to fouling out.

” When you get a gamer the caliber of E.J. back, it definitely assists you,” Ohio State coach Chris Holtmann said. “I thought this was our best efficiency of the year versus a quality UCLA group that will either be near the top or win the Pac-12.”

Duane Washington Jr. scored 14 points and made two complimentary throws in the last minute for the Buckeyes (6-1), who were coming off a 70-67 loss at Purdue on Dec. 16. Zed Key included 11 points, 6 rebounds and an emphatic obstructed shot off the bench.

Junior forward Cody Riley had 15 points for UCLA (5-2), which had actually won five directly. Johnny Juzang added 13, consisting of a 3-pointer that gave the Bruins a 54-48 lead with 12:35 left.

” Their physicality troubled us and Zed simply destroyed us,” UCLA coach Mick Cronin stated. “Our post defense was a big issue, then they had guys making 3-pointers who had barely hit any can be found in.”

Eugene Brown III, who had two 3-pointers going into the video game, nailed one from the left corner to put Ohio State in front for excellent at 66-63. The freshman made another from the exact same area with 4:27 remaining to extend the Buckeyes’ advantage to 69-65.

” It was an excellent feeling for my colleagues to trust me in a tight situation,” said Brown, who had a season-high 9 points.

Tyger Campbell’s totally free throw pulled UCLA within 73-68 with 2:46 left, and neither group scored again till Washington’s free tosses with 51 seconds left made it a three-possession game. Neither team led by more than six as much as that point.

CJ Walker had 10 points and four assists for Ohio State, which shot 50% from the field. The Buckeyes led 39-38 at halftime behind seven points apiece from Liddell and junior Musa Jallow.

” We definitely weren’t best, but we improved effectiveness from our backcourt tonight,” Holtmann said.

Pac-12 assist leader Campbell had a game-high five however missed out on 9 of his 10 basket attempts.

Ohio State was at first arranged to play No. 22 North Carolina, while UCLA was matched up with Kentucky. The matchups were altered Wednesday by promoter Intersport to line up the challengers with the most comparable COVID-19 screening protocols.

The Tar Heels beat the Wildcats 75-63 in the very first game of the afternoon. No fans were allowed inside Rocket Home loan FieldHouse, which hosted the yearly four-team event for the very first time.

WELCOME BACK

Ohio State played at Rocket Home loan FieldHouse for the second straight season. West Virginia beat the Buckeyes 67-59 in the Cleveland Classic on Dec. 29, 2019, drawing a near-capacity crowd of 16,781 at the home of the NBA’s Cavaliers.

BROAD VIEW

Ohio State: The Buckeyes have only left their house state two times, winning 90-85 at Notre Dame on Dec. 8 and losing 67-61 at Purdue on Dec. 16. That will alter as Big 10 play gets.

UCLA: The Bruins lost their season opener at San Diego State, however won their next five contests by a combined 101 points. Ohio State was the first ranked opponent that UCLA has played.

UP NEXT

Ohio State: Hosts Rutgers in its 2nd Big 10 game on Dec. 23.

UCLA: Plays its very first Pac-12 road game versus Oregon on Dec. 23.

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