Ohio State basketball teams put on a show at Buckeyes on the Blacktop

2022-10-10 00:32:53 By : Mr. zhi chuang yu

A night made for the likes of Zed Key was stolen by Brice Sensabaugh.

For the first time in six years, the Ohio State men’s and women’s basketball teams participated in “Buckeyes on the Blacktop,” a free, outdoor event designed to allow the student body to get a better feel for the current teams. Players from both teams participated in a “Shooting Stars” competition and a 3-point shootout before the men’s team held a dunk contest and a 10-minute scrimmage on the RPAC outdoor courts adjacent to Ohio Stadium.

It was the perfect setting for Key, Ohio State’s most experienced returning player and a fan favorite, to take center stage. And throughout the night he did, throwing down dunks and raising the roof as the students who packed the court five rows deep followed suit. After arriving in sunglasses, Key was among the final players to leave after posing for dozens of photos and answering questions about his pet snake, 7.

Ohio State basketball insider:Stay in the know with texts from beat reporter Adam Jardy

But when it came to the 3-point and dunk competitions, his freshman teammate nearly pulled off the double. Sensabaugh fended off Sean McNeil, Bowen Hardman and Key in the shooting portion and advanced to the finals in the dunk contest only to narrowly lose to classmate Roddy Gayle Jr.

“I’m glad that we had this event,” Key said. “We never had one of these since I’ve been here and I’m glad a lot of people showed up and showed us love. This event wasn’t for me, obviously, it was for everyone to get to know the new guys and introduce them to the fans and see the new faces. I’m glad we had this event to get everyone used to our guys.”

Said freshman Roddy Gayle: “This is why I committed to Ohio State, just to be around these fans. It’s amazing.”

After the entire rosters for both the men’s and women’s teams were announced to the fans, the teams were split for a three-round shooting competition. With one men’s player and one women’s player at opposite ends of the court, each player had to make a layup, free throw, 3-pointer and half-court shot as fast as possible with the quickest for each gender squaring off in the final round.

That led to a championship showdown between Greene, a fourth-year Pickerington Central product, and Tanner Holden, a fourth-year transfer from Wright State in his first season with the Buckeyes. After Greene defeated Justice Sueing in the first round by making all four shots in 42.8 seconds, she claimed the title for the women’s team by defeating Holden.

Gene Brown III and Rikki Harris actually tied each other during the drill, sinking their half-court shots simultaneously, but neither was fast enough to qualify for the finals.

Once the freshman forward got going, nobody could catch up with Sensabaugh in the 3-point shooting competition. One contestant from each team simultaneously had 60 seconds to shoot 25 3-pointers, five from five stations spread equidistantly around the perimeter.

Sean McNeil and Bowen Hardman each finished with 12 makes while Key made six, leading him to mutter, “I’m never shooting from outside again” after missing his final attempt and setting the stage for Sensabaugh. Needing to hit at least 12, the freshman finished with 14 to advance to the finals against senior guard Taylor Mikesell, whose 12 makes bested teammates Rebeka Mikulášiková (11), Rikki Harris (eight) and Emma Shumate (four).

In the final round, Sensabaugh was only 3 for 7 when he promptly hit nine consecutive 3s, each one drawing louder applause from the fans at the south end of the court. He finished with 14, defeating Mikesell by three makes as those who were to participate in the dunk contest started to stretch.

It marked the end of the night for the women’s team, which came straight to the event after their day’s workout.

“Today it was a little tough,” Key said of his shooting. “It was tough on this outside court with the double rim. I haven’t shot on a double rim since I was back in New York playing at the park.”

The 6-8, 255-pound Key is expected to shoot 3-pointers this season after not attempting any during his first two years.

Ohio State Buckeyes:As practice begins, one looming question for each Ohio State player

The highlight of the night came at the north end of the court, where four Buckeyes competed in a dunk competition in front of a four-man judging panel consisting of Justice Sueing, former men’s basketball player Joey Lane, quarterback C.J. Stroud and mascot Brutus Buckeye.

Sensabaugh opened with a 360 dunk while Etzler followed with a reverse jam. After Okpara finished a straight-on dunk, Gayle’s windmill after three misses led to the judges moving all players to the final round rather than eliminate anyone.

Here’s where it got creative. Sensabaugh went through his legs for a slam to open the second round and earn four perfect 10 scores, but Etzler nearly answered by leaping over his mom, Krista Etzler and lacrosse player Mitchell Pehlke, for a dunk.

Okpara channeled Vince Carter and hung from the rim by his elbow, but Gayle closed the round by soaring over Brown to set up a final-round showdown with Sensabaugh. He put up a 360 slam, but Gayle took the title when teammate Isaac Likekele bounced the ball off the side of the backboard and he nabbed it out of the air and dunked it backwards over his head, setting off a celebration among his teammates.

The final two finishes surprised even the freshman himself.

“Those last two dunks in the dunk contest, I’ve never done those ever,” he said. “It was just kind of on the fly. I kind of surprised myself, honestly.”

Gayle showed his dunking ability while playing in the Bahamas during Ohio State’s foreign exhibition trip but said it’s been harder to do that in practice.

“Impossible,” he said. “Especially with Felix and Zed in the paint, impossible. I don’t even think I’ve dunked it in practice. Finding new finishes around the rim is a part I’ve had to work on.”

*The Buckeyes finished the night with a 10-minute scrimmage that was essentially a dunk show. Some players remained in their sweats, and the gray team won by scoring eight quick points under the Elam Ending scoring system used in The Basketball Tournament. They got there quickly, too: Sueing hit a 3, Sensabaugh dunked an off-the-backboard alley-oop to himself and Sueing closed it with another 3.

*Freshman Bruce Thornton appeared to be the only player not to see action during the scrimmage.

*Devin Royal, a member of Ohio State's 2023 recruiting class from Pickerington Central, was in attendance for the event.

*Ohio State plans to make this an annual event.