Ohio State Finishes 2017 Slate With a Win
Ohio State, who hadn’t played since the loss to North Carolina a week ago, came out flat, but mustered enough energy to pull out a 72-59 win over a pesky Miami Redhawk squad. The Buckeyes controlled most of the first half and on several occasions looked like they were going to pull away but Miami answered with some big shots that kept the Buckeyes within arms length. Neither team shot the ball particularly well early and despite hitting just 3 of their first 16, Ohio State began to pull away, doubling Miami up at 18-9 forcing the Redhawks to call a timeout with just under 9 minutes remaining in the first half. Miami would answer, closing to within a hoop, but Ohio State closed the half with a run of their own and after a Redhawk buzzer beater from mid court rimmed just out, the teams went into the locker room with the Buckeyes leading just 35-28. CJ Jackson and Keita Bates-Diop led Ohio State in the first 20 minutes with 8 apiece.
The second half went back and forth early until a 12-2 run gave the Buckeyes their largest lead of 17 and it looked like Ohio State would run away with it, but Miami once again answered, going on a 13-1 run to cut the lead to 5 at the midway point of the second half. Ohio State would pull away a little again, stretching the lead to 9 at the under 8 timeout, but Miami would fight and claw and would not go away and behind some timely 3 balls, they closed to within 3 with 6 minutes remaining. That would be as close as they would get as Ohio State cranked up the pressure on the defensive end and finished the game on a 15-5 run to complete their 11th win on the season. Bates-Diop led the Buckeyes with 19 points and 9 boards and Jackson added 16 and 6 assists. Kam Williams also hit some timely shots down the stretch and finished with 15 while Jae’Sean Tate added 11 for the victorious Buckeyes.
That will complete the non-conference portion of the schedule for the 2017-18 Buckeyes and sitting at 11-4 is probably the best even the most optimistic of Buckeye fan could’ve hoped for. The unusual mix of a pair of conference games early, means the Buckeyes will head into January not only 11-4 overall, but 2-0 in Big Ten play and playing with some confidence. If I had to assign a letter grade to the so called ‘1st season’, I would give them a B+. They have played about as well as I expected but at the same time, there are some areas that need cleaning heading into conference play. They are improving at taking care of the basketball but there are times when they try to make the perfect play or pass instead of just making the smart play. They also must do a better job on the glass. They are allowing teams way too many opportunities on the offensive end and Big Ten teams will make them pay. Having said that, this team has the capability and potential to finish in the top half of the conference and threaten to gain a bid into the NCAA tournament in March. The return of Keita Bates-Diop from injury has been a big boost for this team both offensively and his ability to defend with his length and the emergence of C.J. Jackson as a scorer has been a big boost for this basketball team in its attempt to find that 3rd and 4th scoring option. Stay tuned for a wild ride throughout January and February in Big Ten play. It all starts next week and it should be a lot of fun.
Ohio State will resume Big Ten play next Thursday in a winnable road game at Iowa. Tip for that one is set for 7 p.m.
– Jason Harris