Ohio State Upset on the Road at Rutgers
In what will go down as the worst loss of the Chris Holtmann era thus far, Ohio State went on the road and struggled mightily, falling 64-61 to Rutgers falling to 12-3 and 2-2 in conference play. Kaleb Wesson scored 16 of his team high 18 in the second half as Ohio State rallied to take a lead late, but Rutgers scored the last 6 points of the game to pull the upset. Luther Muhammad scored 13 and C.J. Jackson added 10 for the Buckeyes.
It was a slow start for both teams as Rutgers and their style of play likes to dictate. The Buckeyes broke the early scoring drought 2 just over 2 minutes into the basketball game. However, the biggest concern for Ohio State came with just over 17 minutes remaining in the half, when Kaleb Wesson was whistled for a pair of cheap and questionable fouls that sent him to the bench. Rutgers would proceed to go on an 8-0 run to take an 8-4 lead as Ohio State went nearly 3 minutes without a field goal. C.J. Jackson ended that drought, knocking down a three from the right point cutting the Scarlet Knight advantage to just a point and 13 minutes remaining in the half. Ohio State, without Wesson struggled to get anything going offensively, missing 8 of their 11 shot attempts and Rutgers took advantage with another 8-0 run to lead 18-9 with 11 minutes to go in the half. Back to back triples from Luther Muhammad cut the Rutgers lead to 4 at the under 8 media timeout. A 9-2 Rutgers run out of the timeout gave the Scarlet Knights their biggest lead, sitting at 11 and forcing Chris Holtmann to call a 30-second timeout with 6 minutes remaining in the half. The Buckeyes would respond, rallying to finish the half with a 13-3 run thanks to a pair of threes from C.J. Jackson to trail by just a point after 20 minutes. Muhammad led the Buckeyes with 9 at the break and felt very fortunate to trail by just one despite playing without the services of leading scorer Kaleb Wesson for much of the half. Rutgers had issues of their own as, their leading scorer, Eugene Omoruyi, went down with an apparent leg injury at the 13-minute mark and would not return. The Knights lead was in large part due to the severe imbalance at the stripe. Rutgers went to the line 10 times, bagging 8 of those attempts, while Ohio State did not go to the line until the 1:40 mark with Andre Wesson splitting his two attempts, the only tries of the half for the Buckeyes.
The Buckeyes went right to Kaleb Wesson on the first possession of the second half and he scored on the block to give Ohio State their first lead since early in the game. Rutgers would answer with a 5-0 run of their own to regain a 4-point lead, but Kaleb Wesson began to assert himself on the offensive end, scoring Ohio State’s first 10 points of the second half giving Ohio State a 2 point lead at the 16 minute mark. Out of the timeout, the Buckeyes would go cold, not making a field goal for over 3 minutes and Rutgers would take advantage, going on a 10-0 run to take command and lead by 8 forcing Ohio State to call a timeout with 11:28 remaining in the game. The Buckeyes trimmed the lead to 5 with inside outside action as Kaleb Wesson found Luther Muhammad at the top of the key for a three but Rutgers would come right back with another 5-0 run to lead by 10 with just under 9 minutes remaining. A pair of free throws from Kaleb Wesson and a tip dunk by Kyle Young cut the lead to 6 at the under 8 minute timeout. The Buckeyes would cut the lead to 3 when Keyshawn Woods drilled a three from the left point and that would be the deficit at the final media timeout with the Buckeyes possessing the ball. Out of the timeout, Ohio State scored the next 6 to take a 3 point advantage. Kaleb Wesson bagged a pair of free throws, Muhammad made a runner along the right of the lane and C.J. Jackson scored on a lay up in transition forcing Rutgers to call timeout with 2:37 remaining. Rutgers cut the lead to 1 with 1:37 remaining and Ohio State called timeout. Out of the timeout, Andre Wesson threw the ball away at the point giving Rutgers the ball down 1 with just over a minute to go. The Knights took a 1 point lead with a minute to go on a runner and Ohio State missed on their possession and Rutgers took a timeout leading 62-61 with 32 seconds remaining. A fade away jumper from Gio Baker of Rutgers gave the Knights a 3 point lead and Ohio State called a timeout with just 10 seconds on the game clock. Out of the timeout, Woods found Jackson wide open in the corner but his three attempt clanged off target and the horn sounded sending Rutgers to the win.
The Buckeyes season is now at a tipping point. Where they go from here will go a long way in determining what kind of season it will be. It certainly won’t be easy but what was looking like a promising season is now hanging in the balance. Offensively they must find another option outside of Kaleb Wesson and they must do a better job valuing the basketball. 13 turnovers led to 18 points for Rutgers in this one and has been a major problem all season long and finally bit them in this one.
The Buckeyes will look to bounce back on Saturday afternoon in Iowa City, IA taking on Iowa at 2:30 PM to be aired on the Big Ten Network.