E.J. Liddell scored 16 points, Big Ten Freshman of the Year Malaki Branham added 14 and seventh-seeded Ohio State shut down 10th-seeded Loyola Chicago from start to finish, winning 54-41 in the first round of the NCAA Tournament on Friday.
The Buckeyes (20-11) advanced to play either Villanova or Delaware on Sunday in the South Region while preventing another March run by the Ramblers (25-8), who shot 27% (15 of 56) from the floor.
Braden Norris led Loyola with 14 points but star Lucas Williamson endured perhaps his worst game of the season. The winningest player in program history finished with four points on 1-of-10 shooting and committed three turnovers as Loyola fell in the first round after reaching the Sweet 16 last season and the Final Four in 2018.
Sister Jean, Loyola’s 102-year-old chaplain, led the Ramblers in a pregame prayer and took in the school’s third NCAA appearance in five years from the mezzanine but could only watch as Loyola — listed as a slight favorite by FanDuel Sportsbook, a nod to the program’s rise — fumbled away an opportunity to further cement its status as a mid-major power.