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Thornton, Gayle lead Ohio State past No. 17 Alabama in Emerald Coast Classic

Johnnie Izquierdo / Getty Images Sport / Getty

NICEVILLE, Fla. (AP) — Bruce Thornton scored a career-high 29 points, Roddy Gayle Jr. added a career-high 23, and Ohio State held back No. 17 Alabama's prolific offense to beat the Crimson Tide 92-81 on Friday in a semifinal of the Emerald Coast Classic.

Thornton made consecutive 3s 19 seconds apart during a 10-0 run that gave the Buckeyes (4-1) their biggest lead, 71-56 with 8:10 remaining. Alabama never seriously threatened after that.

Grant Nelson scored 20 points and Aaron Estrada added 19 for the Crimson Tide (4-1), who came in averaging 101.8 points, third-best in Division I, but struggled against Ohio State's physical, man-to-man defense.

Alabama finished 9 of 30 (30%) from 3-point range, its worst percentage of the season, while Ohio State shot an efficient 10 of 18 (55.6%) from behind the arc.

Thornton was 4 of 6 on 3-pointers and 13 of 14 from the free-throw line. Fellow sophomore Gayle shot 8 of 11 from the field and 6 of 6 on free throws.

Thornton scored 14 first-half points as Ohio State led 38-33 at halftime. Alabama twice got within three points early in the second half but did not get closer in the first meeting between the teams in 21 years.


Ohio State: The Buckeyes played their most complete game of the season and got a signature win. They lost to Texas A&M in their only previous game against a ranked opponent.

Alabama: The Crimson Tide, who came in averaging 48.9% on 3-pointers, couldn't bail themselves out from beyond the arc in their first matchup with a Power Five foe.


Ohio State will face either Oregon or Santa Clara in Saturday's championship game while Alabama plays for third place.


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