E.J. Liddell’s 23 points against Minnesota on Jan. 27 was more than enough to boost the Buckeyes to their first win in Minneapolis in seven years, and more than enough to launch him onto the same list as many of Ohio State’s most important players in recent memory. In just the last decade, Ohio State has seen 13 players finish their careers with four digits in the scoring department before Liddell.
“I don’t usually keep track of my points during the game but I was aware a little bit this game,” Liddell said. “When I got it, I just pointed to the sky and thanked God for everything.”
Liddell is likely the only Buckeye to join that group this season – Kyle Young has 786 career points and would need to average nearly 18 points per game for the rest of the regular season to crack 1,000 and he’s the only one that’s especially close – so the focus on his accomplishment can shift instead to the recent standouts he’s joined, and his potential for climbing higher in the scoring list.
Just against the Golden Gophers, Liddell surpassed Nos. 60 and 59 on the 1,000-point scorer list, finishing the game with 1,011 points – enough to topple Sam Thompson’s 1,001 and Chris Jent’s 1,007. A pair of recent Buckeyes, Lenzelle Smith Jr. (1,014) and C.J. Jackson (1,016) are next on the list for Liddell to pass. With a few more games like the one he put up against Minnesota, Liddell will edge out his former teammate Duane Washington (1,073) to join the top 50.
If Liddell keeps his current pace of 19.6 points per game across Ohio State’s final 12 regular season games (including a yet-to-be-scheduled matchup with Nebraska) he’ll end the year with 1,246 points, which would slot him in at No. 35, just ahead of Kaleb Wesson (1,240) and behind Keita Bates-Diop (1,272), a pair of Chris Holtmann products. Jared Sullinger and his 1,282 points in just two seasons would be within reach as well.
With a few postseason games, Liddell could break the top 30, needing to top Aaron Craft’s 1,314 points. Anything beyond that would likely require Liddell to return for his senior season. Jim Cleamons holds the No. 29 spot at 1,335, Marc Loving is at 1,338 and Brent Darby is 30 points away from that.
If Liddell did return, he could approach 2,000-point territory with an excellent season, which would put him behind only Dennis Hopson (2,096) and Herb Williams (2,011). William Buford (1,990) and Jerry Lucas (1,990) are the only other Buckeyes to ever come within striking distance of 2,000. Buford, Deshaun Thomas (1,630), and Jae’Sean Tate (1,512) are the only Buckeyes in the last decade to finish above 1,500 points.