To say that Ohio State forward E.J. Liddell is emotionally drained would be putting it mildly, to say the least.
Over the course of six days, Liddell played in three games that were decided by seven points, including the Big Ten Tournament title game and a 75–72 first round men’s NCAA tournament upset in overtime at the hands of No. 15 Oral Roberts.
Liddell was dominant for the No. 2 seeded Buckeyes, posting 23 points, 14 rebounds and five assists, but missed the front end of a one-and-one free throw with 37 seconds left in regulation that kept Oral Roberts within two.
The heartbreaking loss was compounded by a flurry of viciously scathing messages fans sent to Liddell, who shared screenshots on Twitter.
One fan even threatened to physically attack him.
“I’ve never done anything to make someone say something like that to me,” Liddell says. “I can’t imagine a fan would take a loss harder than me. I’m out there on the court working hard to win. It doesn’t make any sense.”
The university has already acted, contacting local authorities. The investigation is ongoing.
“These comments, while not from or representative of Ohio State fans, are vile, dangerous and reflect the worst of humanity,” Buckeyes coach Chris Holtmann said in a statement. “E.J. is an outstanding young man who had a tremendous sophomore season and he was instrumental in our team’s success. We will take the necessary actions here at the University to address this immediately.”
In the meantime, Liddell said the administration has taken steps to ensure his safety.
“Extra patrol cars around the neighborhood and things like that,” Liddell said. “I know a lot of fans act out of emotion, leaving comments under our posts. Hopefully, they can realize that threats are taken seriously. In the world we live in anything can happen.”
See the above video for Liddell’s full thoughts on the threats he received, Ohio State’s week, the emotional toll of losses and more.