Ohio State coach Chris Holtmann didn’t care about style points. He was just happy to celebrate again.

So were his players.

After scoring the first 13 points of the game and nearly blowing a 14-point lead in the final 3 1/2 minutes, the ninth-ranked Buckeyes finally found a way to close out a 79-75 victory over Minnesota on Thursday in the Big Ten Tournament. Ohio State will face No. 21 Purdue in Friday’s quarterfinals.

“I think as much as anything guys were excited,” Holtmann said. “Disappointed in some plays they made there late, but I want them to enjoy this. They’re college basketball players. It’s not life and death and you can feel like that sometimes when you lose a couple.”

Actually, Ohio State (19-8) had lost four straight since winning at Penn State on Feb. 18. And when the Buckeyes built a 70-56 lead with 3:24 to go, it looked they would cruise.

But a combination of errant shots, missed free throws, turnovers and one costly offensive foul allowed Minnesota to charge back. The Gophers got as close as 75-74 with 13.3 seconds left before the Buckeyes steadied themselves.

While Duane Washington Jr. and Justice Sueing each scored 16 points to lead the Buckeyes, E.J. Liddell sealed it with two late free throws and some nifty ball-handling. Liddell had 14 points, five rebounds and four assists.