St. John Arena, February 1990 Buckeye game hosting Louisville propelled Ohio State to NCAA Tournament

The 1989-1990 season was Buckeye basketball all time great Jimmy Jackson’s freshman season in a Scarlet & Gray uniform.

Jackson, Mark Baker, Jamaal Brown and Perry Carter lead their team to the NCAA tournament that season where eight seed Ohio State won a one point game, 84-83, in overtime over Providence in the opening round and then lost a 76-65 2nd round contest to a #2 ranked UNLV, which featured players of the quality of Larry (Grandmama) Johnson, Stacey (Plastic Man) Augmon, and Greg Anthony, who is now a CBS employed basketball analyst. All three of those guys were quality NBA players.

The Buckeyes competed strong in that game but in the end couldn’t hang with the Runnin’s Rebels, the eventual NCAA national champions, after they defeated Duke in championship game 103-73.

I bring this particular season up for it’s similarities, in some respects, to the current challenge this season’s Ohio State team finds itself in.

Midway through the 1989-1990 conference season Ohio State was 8-9 overall and just 4-5 in conference and were in the middle of four game losing streak before defeating Northwestern inside St. John Arena 101-77.

The term “bracketology” wasn’t part of hoops tournament conversation until the mid 1990s but if it was the Buckeyes would have been located on the lower side of the dreaded March Madness “bubble”.

After Northwestern, Ohio State hosted 15-3 & 10th ranked Louisville in St. John Arena on February 4th, 1990.

The Buckeyes won it 91-88 in OT and went on to be invited to the 1990 NCAA Tournament.

That Ohio State win over Louisville was credited with changing the trajectory of the Buckeyes’ season from one destined for the NIT to one who earned it’s way into the Big Dance with a 17-13 overall record that was, also, 10-8 in conference.

There are, of course, differences between Ohio State’s current team and the 1989-1990 squad. The current Buckeyes stand at 12-7 overall and 2-4 in conference, but are on a two game winning streak where three of it’s next four games will be played on home court. All four of those teams in that vein are listed higher in the conference standings with the culmination a home contest against current conference leader, the 5-1 Maryland Terrapins.

Big Ten Standings (January 21, 2017)

The essential fact to know about about this season’s Buckeyes is that it isn’t even on the March Madness “Bubble”

But, like the 1989-1990 team, if it wins inside this quartet of contests it can start to show up on such lists.

Three wins and one loss would get Ohio State to .500 in conference with a 5-5 record.

Starting with Sunday’s game with visiting Northwestern, those four games come and go quickly. Three days separate all four crucial matchups.

(H) Northwestern on the 22nd || (H) Minnesota, the 25th || (A) Iowa, the 28th || (H) Maryland, the 31st.

I’m rooting for Ohio State to play hard and well all four games. Sometimes things don’t go your way. But it helps to make your breaks.

For example, the 1989-1990 team was down 17 points early in the 2nd half after giving up a 10-2 run to the Cardinals. However, they didn’t give up, and finally tied the score won it in overtime.

Ohio State’s defense turned up the intensity and that was the key to the win. PG Mark Baker (15 pts/5 steals), starting his third game in a row, and Perry Carter (20 pts/13 rbs) and Treg Lee (Ten 2nd half pts), supported Jimmy Jackson’s 21 points, who, with 16 seconds left in OT, tipped in an Alex Davis baseline jump shot to provide the final three point difference.

Those Buckeyes didn’t give up despite being down by such a large margin.

The 2016-2017 Ohio State team will see good things happen for it, too, if it  refuses to give in to the challenges it faces.

Go Buckeyes! Beat Northwestern!

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Ohio State 1989-90 season schedule and results

W: 17, L: 13; Big Ten: 10-8/6th (H: 12-2, A: 3-6, N: 2-5)

W/L Opp.  OSU(#)-OPP(#)

11/15 L !vs. DePaul   53-71

11/27 W Mount St. Mary’s   102-63

12/1 L #vs. N.C. St. 54-68(19)

12/2 L #vs. Oklahoma State  59-81(23)

12/9 W American University 74-64

12/18 W Robert Morris 78-51 12/21

W South Carolina 59-46

12/27 L %vs. LaSalle 62-74(20)

12/28 W %vs. New Orleans 74-66

1/4 W Indiana 69-67(9)

1/6 W @Iowa 79-73(20)

1/11 L @Michigan State 68-78

1/13 W Wisconsin  68-53

1/18 L @Michigan  88-90

1/20 L @Minnesota  78-83(22)

1/25 L Purdue 66-78(13)

1/27 L @Illinois 81-92(10)

2/1 W Northwestern 101-77

2/4 W Louisville (ot)  91-88(10)

2/8 W Iowa  98-80

2/10 L Michigan State  75-84(23)

2/15 W @Wisconsin  68-58

2/18 W Michigan   64-61(5)

2/24 L @Purdue  70-75(9)

2/26 W Illinois  86-80(19)

3/3 W @Northwestern  95-86 3/8

L @Indiana  66-77

3/10 W Minnesota   93-83(19)

3/15 W *vs. Providence (ot)   84-83

3/17 L *vs. UNLV  65-76(2) (#) Indicates AP ranking

! Preseason NIT,
# Tournament of Champions, Charlotte, N.C. % Sugar Bowl Classic, New Orleans, La. *NCAA 1st and 2nd Rounds, Salt Lake City

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Photo by Rebecca Mugler/The Lantern

Picture caption – OSU junior center, Perry Carter, puts pressure on Louisville’s LaBradford Smith during first half action Sunday in St. John Arena. The Buckeyes defeated the 10th ranked Cardinals 91-88 in overtime.


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