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Ohio State's E.J. Liddell Received Threatening Messages After Oral Roberts Upset

Mike Chiari@mikechiariFeatured ColumnistMarch 20, 2021

Ohio State forward E.J. Liddell (32) plays against Illinois in an NCAA college basketball championship game at the Big Ten Conference tournament in Indianapolis, Sunday, March 14, 2021. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)
Michael Conroy/Associated Press

Ohio State forward E.J. Liddell revealed Saturday that he received threatening messages after the Buckeyes' upset loss to Oral Roberts in the first round of the NCAA men's basketball tournament Friday.

Liddell tweeted screenshots of the messages he was sent (warning: some language NSFW):

The team contacted police after Liddell received the messages, according to ESPN's Myron Medcalf.

Ohio State entered the tourney as a No. 2 seed, but it fell 75-72 to No. 15 Oral Roberts in overtime. Liddell missed a one-and-one free throw with 37 seconds left in regulation that kept the Golden Eagles within two.

He played excellently, though, scoring a team-high 23 points to go along with 14 rebounds and five assists.

In subsequent tweets, Liddell both questioned what he did to deserve those messages and thanked Buckeyes fans for their support:

Ohio State head coach Chris Holtmann took to Twitter to release a statement defending Liddell and promised to "address this immediately":

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Athletic director Gene Smith similarly issued a statement vowing action.

"The threatening social media attack E.J. Liddell faced after the game yesterday is appalling and will not be tolerated," Smith tweeted. "To the few of you who have chosen to inappropriately rail against our players on social media, stop. Hate and derision have no place in Buckeye Nation or in civil society. If you cross the line and threaten our players, you will be hearing from the authorities. That I promise you."

Liddell was one of the driving forces behind the Buckeyes' success, helping lead the team to a 21-10 record and the Big Ten tournament title game, which it lost to Illinois in overtime.

Ohio State was among the top squads in the best conference this season, and Liddell had a big hand in that.

He finished second on the team in scoring with 16.2 points per game and first in rebounding with 6.7 per contest. It represented a huge step forward from a freshman season in which he averaged 6.7 points and 3.8 boards.

The end of the Buckeyes' season was unquestionably disappointing, as they became only the ninth No. 2 seed in the history of the men's tournament to lose to a No. 15 seed.

Even so, the future is bright, especially if some of the program's top players return in 2021-22 rather than enter the NBA draft.

Liddell, junior guard Duane Washington Jr. and junior forward Justice Sueing have eligibility remaining, so Ohio State could run it back and have a far better result.