Buckeyes Open Big Ten Slate with a Win

The 16th ranked Ohio State Basketball Buckeyes opened the Big Ten Season with a 79-59 convincing victory over visiting Minnesota.  In their lone meeting of the season, it was all Buckeyes from start to finish as the Gophers struggled against the defensive pressure and energy on the perimeter of the Buckeyes.  The Buckeyes were the aggressor from the outset dictating the tempo with their defense and scoring in transition and on second shot opportunities, hitting the offensive glass at every opportunity and dominating overall, outrebounding the Gophers 42-33. The Buckeyes put 5 in double figures, led by Andre Wesson’s 16 and Kaleb Wesson’s 15.  C.J. Jackson added 14 and Musa Jallow and Kyle Young chipped in 11 and 10 respectively.  Amir Coffey of Minnesota led all scorers with 19.

The Buckeyes struck early building an 8-point advantage at the under 12 media timeout courtesy a 10-2 run.  Kyle Young was active early, scoring and rebounding the basketball on both ends as the Buckeyes dominated the offensive glass getting multiple opportunities per possession.  A key moment early came with just over 13 minutes to play in when Minnesota was hit with a flagrant 1 foul and the Buckeyes used that to create a 5 point possession.  Musa Jallow made the technical free throws and on the same possession, Andre Wesson completed an old-fashioned three-point play, getting fouled while scoring on the right block and knocking down the free throw.  The Buckeyes extended the lead to 12 with 10:30 to play forcing Minnesota coach Richard Pitino to call a 30-second timeout.  The Buckeyes run would continue out of the timeout.  Jallow drilled a triple from the right point and the Buckeyes created offense from defense on the ensuing possession, getting a steal and in transition Duane Washington gave it up to the trailing Jallow, who promptly threw down a thunderous 2 handed jam to get the arena rocking.  The run would extend to a 21-2 advantage when Andre Wesson drilled a jumper from the left baseline giving Ohio State a 26-7 lead with just over 9 minutes to play.   The Gophers went on a little run of their own, cutting the lead to 14 after a 7-2 run, but Ohio State’s hot shooting and work on the glass kept the Gophers at arm’s length, leading 34-18 heading into the under 4 media timeout.  Minnesota would not go away however, going on a quick 9-0 run to cut the Buckeye lead to 8 with under 1 minute to go, but an old fashioned 3 point play at the rim by Andre Wesson with 30 seconds remaining increased the Buckeye lead at the break to 11.  The Buckeyes lead was in large part due to the advantage on the glass (22-14) and the points in transition, leading 14-2 in points off turnovers.  Andre Wesson and Musa Jallow led the Buckeyes with 11 each in the first 20 minutes and the Minnesota 6’8” point guard, Amir Coffey led the Gophers with 12.

The Buckeyes extended their lead in the opening moments of the second half and it was all Kaleb Wesson.  Wesson, who was limited in the first half due to 2 quick personal fouls, was assertive out of the gate, scoring 9 of the first 11 Buckeye points as Ohio State extended their lead to 50-33 4 minutes into the half.  Minnesota continued to struggle offensively to solve the aggressive Ohio State man-to-man defense, going nearly 7 minutes without field goals and Ohio State made them pay.  A post feed from Kaleb Wesson to Andre Wesson in the short corner led to a three that extended the Buckeye lead to 20.  Threes on back-to-back possessions from C.J. Jackson gave Ohio State their largest lead to that point at 63-41 with just over 8 minutes remaining in the game.  The Gophers would get no closer than 18 the rest of the way as they struggled to find any consistency in their half-court offense, missing all 13 of their 3 point attempts while Ohio State made 7 of their 17 tries from distance.

It was a solid Big Ten opening win for the Buckeyes who were playing without freshman guard Luther Muhammad, who is out indefinitely with a shoulder separation.  The shoulder injury will not require surgery fortunately, so how long he will be out is yet to be determined, but it is good news for Muhammad and the Buckeyes who will need their young defensive stopper through the grind of the Big Ten season.  In his absence, Coach Chris Holtmann will be looking for someone to replace his production on both ends and in this game, Musa Jallow stepped up, coming off the bench and scoring 11 and providing a lift especially with Kaleb Wesson on the bench with foul trouble.   The Buckeyes showed tremendous energy and effort from start to finish in this ballgame, which they will need to be successful throughout a difficult Big Ten schedule.

The Buckeyes suit it up again on Wednesday night, hitting the road to Chicago, Illinois to take on the Illinois Illini in the United Center for the final conference game of December.  Game time for that game is scheduled for 7PM on the Big Ten Network.

– Jason Harris

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