Buckeyes Cruise Past South Carolina State

Ohio State utilized shut down defense and hot shooting to blow out a close game early to cruise past South Carolina State 89-61 to move to 4-0 on the young season.  The Bulldogs hung around early, trailing just 8-6 at the first media timeout.  But, Ohio State responded with a 16-3 run and never looked back jumping out to a lead as large as 20 in the first half thanks to some hot shooting by Kaleb Wesson, who did his damage inside and outside in the first 20 minutes, hitting on 3 triples to lead the Buckeyes with 17 first half points.  The Buckeye defense was in shut down mode in the first half, limiting the Bulldogs to just 27% shooting and forcing seven turnovers as Ohio State took a 43-21 lead into the intermission.

The Bulldogs offense showed a little more life out of the break, and Ohio State cooled from long range just a bit, but it was still not enough for Ohio State to ever feel threatened.  The Buckeyes held a lead as big as 34 after Luther Muhammed led the break and found a streaking Duane Washington for an alley-oop and jam attempt that rolled down the cylinder as Washington was fouled.  He converted the old-fashioned 3-point play to extend the lead to the largest of the night before Coach Chris Holtmann emptied his bench with a little over 4 minutes to play in the basketball game.

The story of this one however was the play of Kaleb Wesson, who was compared to “Shaquille O’Neal of the late 90’s” by the South Carolina State coach after drawing an unheard of 12 fouls in the post.  Wesson went to the line to attempt 11 free throws on those fouls and converted a un-Shaq like 8 of those 11 attempts.  The Buckeyes continued their M.O. of sharing the basketball, assisting on 18 of their 35 made field goals, putting 5 guys in double figures scoring.  Kaleb Wesson led all scorers with 18, while Duane Washington added 14.  Luther Muhammed and Jaedon LeDee chipped in 12 each and Andre Wesson added 11.  The Buckeyes, who are among the nation’s leaders in 3 point shooting, added another 7 this afternoon on 19 attempts and shot 55% from the floor overall, while dominating the glass, outrebounding the Bulldogs 40-27 for the game.

This game was all about confidence building for the young Ohio State team, who, with two big road wins, were able to play a lot of guys extended minutes in this one.  8 of the 9 scholarship players played at least 14 minutes, with only Justin Ahrens playing less, with 11 minutes of game action.  In addition to the dominant post presence of Kaleb Wesson, the Buckeyes backcourt continues to impress, with a combination of veterans like C.J. Jackson and Keyshawn Woods, and the young freshmen, Muhammad and Washington giving the Buckeyes an inside and outside threat on the offensive end.  With a couple more tune-ups ahead of the big one with Syracuse, the confidence of this team will continue to grow and will be tested come Big Ten play.

The Buckeyes continue their young season on Tuesday night, hosting Samford in the Schott.  Tip time for that game is 7pm airing on BTN Plus.

-Jason Harris

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