For couch potato Columbus sports fans like me, Tuesday night was pretty cool. There were two big games and two big wins. The Blue Jackets, the hottest team in the NHL, hosted former Jacket goalie Sergei Bobrovsky and the Florida Panthers, while the Basketball Buckeyes, played on the road at rival Michigan. My remote came in handy, flipping back and forth between Fox Sports Ohio for hockey and ESPN 2 for basketball as both games had drama from start to finish.
The Buckeyes survived a physical Big Ten slug fest, winning 61-58 in a game that featured 9 ties and 19 lead changes. The largest lead in the second half for either team was 3 points and the lead changed four times in the last 1:21. The win included one of the more bizarre game-changing plays I've ever seen. After Duane Washington's 3-pointer with :54 left gave the Buckeyes a 57-56 lead, Michigan's Zavier Simpson drove to the basket on Buckeye forward Kyle Young and drew a foul, however Simpson extended his arm and grabbed Young's jersey during the play, pulling Young to the ground while ripping the jersey.
After review, the officials stayed with the foul call on Young but also called a flagrant foul on Simpson. Both players were awarded two free throws. Simpson made his putting the pressure on Young, who is just a 60 percent shooter from the line. The junior responded though, nailing both free throws, giving the Buckeyes a 59-58 lead. After that, C.J. Walker was fouled and made both and then the Buckeyes survived a missed 3-pointer by the Wolverines to secure the victory.
Kaleb Wesson played arguably his best game as a Buckeye, scoring 23 points with 12 rebounds and 3 assists. Washington had 17 and Young 12, as those three combined for 52 of Ohio State's 61 points. The win is the third straight for the Buckeyes, who are 15-7 overall and 5-6 in the Big Ten. They're at Wisconsin Sunday.
About 30 minutes after Ohio State wrapped up its victory, the Blue Jackets finally broke through against Bobrovsky (although--they scored earlier but the goal was disallowed) to beat Florida 1-0 in an overtime thriller. Zach Werenski, who on New Year's Eve, recorded his first NHL hat trick against Bob, beat him again for the game winner. It was Werenski's 16th goal of the season, tying the franchise record for goals by a defenseman.
In a tense game that turned into a goalie showdown, the new Jacket bested the old Jacket, as Elvis Merzlikins beat Bob for the second time in six weeks. It was Elvis' fourth shutout of the season, tying him for the NHL lead. The four shutouts have come in his last seven games. The Jackets are now 8-0-1 over their last 9 games and 18-2-5 over their last 25. They remain third in the Metropolitan Division, a point ahead of the Islanders, who have played three fewer games than Columbus. The Jackets play again Friday, at home against Detroit.