Buckeyes Roll Past High Point
In their final game of the non-conference and of 2018, the 13th ranked Ohio State Basketball Buckeyes defeated the visiting High Point Panthers 82-64 to move to 12-1 on the season. C.J. Jackson led 4 Buckeyes in double figures with 20 points as the Buckeyes finish a perfect December and now turn their attention to the Big Ten season.
The Buckeyes raced out to a quick 8-2 lead thanks to some active hands on the defensive end, creating a pair of Panther turnovers. Luther Muhammad scored on an old-fashioned 3-point play with a dribble drive and finish and C.J. Jackson drilled a long range three from the top point as the Buckeyes controlled the action from the outset. High Point would creep back in it thanks to a quick 4-0 run as Ohio State got a bit sloppy in the half court. Ohio State would answer with a pair of triples off the hands of Muhammad to extend the lead to 14-6. However, the Buckeyes would go cold offensively, scoring just 2 points over a 5-minute stretch, allowing High Point to go on a 10-2 run to tie the score at 16 with just under 10 minutes remaining in the half, forcing Chris Holtmann to call a timeout. 3 missed shots and a turnover later, and the Panthers extended their run to 14-2 to lead by 4 heading into the under 8 media timeout. The Buckeyes half-court offense struggled immensely as the Panthers of first year Head Coach, Tubby Smith utilized a double down strategy on Buckeye star Kaleb Wesson frustrating the big man and not allowing the Buckeyes to get into any rhythm on offense. Out of the timeout Kaleb Wesson found his stroke not from the inside, but from beyond the arc, drilling a pair of triples as part of a 19 – 2 run that enabled Ohio State to take control late in the half. The Buckeyes would finish the half with a 21-6 run in the last 6 plus minutes to lead 37-28 at the break in a very uneven first half offensively from the Ohio State offense. Muhammad led the Buckeyes in the first 20 minutes, drilling three triples to score 14. The Buckeye defense turned the Panthers over 12 times but shot just 43% from the floor, but took control with some hot shooting late from deep, finishing the half 6 of 15 from long range.
The second half opened with an 8-0 Buckeye run as Ohio State made some halftime adjustments where Kaleb Wesson was catching the basketball and it led to a pair of easy lay ins as Ohio State extended the lead to 17 just over 2 minutes into the half. The Buckeyes built the lead to 22 before a 7-0 High Point run just beyond the mid-point of the second half trimmed the advantage to 15 due to some lackadaisical play on the offensive end from the Ohio State. The Buckeyes built the lead to as many as 26 before missed free throws and turnovers late enabled the Panthers to close the spread to 18 at the final horn. In addition to Jackson’s 20, Kaleb Wesson added 17 and Luther Muhammad added 15. Andre Wesson chipped in with 10 points and 9 rebounds for the victorious Buckeyes.
A sloppy win but a win for the young Buckeyes which now have their schedule ramped up in January as the Big Ten season begins in full tilt as Ohio State hosts the 8th ranked Michigan State Spartans in what should be a packed house next week. The Buckeyes will need to play more consistent on both ends of the floor to be able to come out of that game with a win. However, Chris Holtmann and the Buckeye faithful have to be pleased with the result to this point with their best basketball still ahead for the young squad.
– Jason Harris