Buckeyes Start February With Victory

On a day when Ohio State needed a big win, the Buckeyes take care of business, defeating Rutgers 76-62. Kaleb Wesson finished the game with 27 points but he had 21 in the first half to pace the scarlet & gray, moving the team to 14-7 on the year and 4-6 in the conference. OSU evened the score with the Scarlet Knights, who won the game in NJ last month.

Ohio State needs to win this game to keep NCAA tournament hopes alive. In spite of the importance of the game, the student section behind the bench was only 2/3 full at tip-off. There was only 2 rows of fans behind the basket. would be great if the team could draw a bit more support.

Kaleb Wesson opened the game with the first basket. At the time, no one knew that was just the beginning of a great first half.  Three baskets under the rim for Rutgers though gave the Knights a 6-4 lead at the 15:51 media time out.

After a missed three attempt by Musa Jallow, Rutgers goes down a gets two more under the basket by Eugene Omoruyi to go up 8-4. Omoruyi will go on to lead Rutgers in scoring on the afternoon. At this point, OSU is only 2-9 shooting. At 14:08 Kaleb Wesson hits a three to pull the Bucks within one. If that was not enough, OSU drives back down and Kaleb hits another 3 to bring the Bucks up 10-8. Wesson is 4-4 shooting on the day.

This was quickly becoming the Kaleb Wesson show as he hits a 10 footer from the baseline, making his effort 5-5 and a 12-8 lead.  At the 12:15 mark, another Buckeye finally gets in the scoring book as Luther Muhammad hits a 3 form the corner, forcing Rutgers coach Steve Pikiell to call his first time out.  The big thing for the Buckeyes right now, 4 assists with zero turnovers. None of those assists were from CJ Jackson who is 6th in the conference in assists.

The good news was Kaleb was 5-5 from the field, the bad news, the rest of the team, 1-8 shooting. And as the game flowed both teams experienced a plus 4:00 minute stretch without scoring.

Caleb McConnell broke the Rutgers scoring drought at the 10:50 mark to reduce the Buckeye lead to 15:10. Then in what seems to be the refs favorite call to make at least once a game, Rutgers starter Shaq Carter was called for a “Hook and Hold” foul. Wesson made both foul shoots to keep his shooting perfect. Kaleb hits a 3 pointer at the 9:35 to give OSU a ten point lead, 20-10.  Wesson has 17 points, shooting 6-6 from the field, 3-3 from behind the arc, and 2-2 from the foul line.

At this point, the refs had been letting them play but they now began to call one foul after another. Andre Wesson added another name to the Buckeye scoring ledger hitting two foul shots to make it 22-11 Buckeyes. Finally, at the 7:47 mark Kaleb Wesson missed his first shot.

Rutgers seemed to take stock in that an begins their fight back. Myles Johnson off the bench gets a basket to draw it within 4 to 22-18 and at 6:40 Coach Holtmann calls time out to stop the bleeding. Out of  time-out, Wesson started his scoring again, 24-18, but Eugene Omoruyi also scores. This was when Keyshawn Woods hit a 3 in the corner to put the Bucks up 27-20. Another Johnson bucket for Rutgers over Wesson makes it 27-22.

Just to make sure his brother doesn’t have to carry the entire load, Andre Wesson drives the lane to make it 29-22. The Buckeyes then secured a turnover as Luther Mohammad scrambled for a loose ball. Off that turnover CJ Jackson gets his first hoop with a 3 to make it 32-22 Bucks. The OSU defensive intensity has been pretty strong, they just need to close the deal and get more boards at this end of the floor.  The Buckeyes only have 8 defensive rebounds, while Rutgers has 7 offensive boards. But another 3 by Mohammad makes it a 35-23 score. As the clock winds down on the half, the Buckeyes are holding on to a 37-29  lead.

Kaleb Wesson for the first half had 21 points 8-9 shooting, 2 boards and 3 assists. And maybe more important, zero fouls. The rest of the team is only shooting 5-19. Also, zero turnovers for Ohio State.

Rutgers’ Shaquille Doorson started the half under the basket, but CJ Jackson hits a 3, then another 2 to put the Buckeyes up 42-31 with 18:07 forcing Rutgers to call the time out. By the first media time out of the second half it was 44-36 Ohio State, and 48-40 at the 12:00 mark. The Scarlet Knights were not giving up but they were never able to get closer than eight points.

Andre Wesson fouled out at 6:43 in the game, but at the time OSU held to a 14 point lead 61-47. Luther Mohammad hits a 3, and would have 4 of them for the game. Going into the final media stop, Ohio State had a 67-55 lead and looked to close he deal.

Geo Baker hits a running jumper at 2:20, Rutgers calls a time to try to make a final push  down by 13, 70-57. The Scarlet Knights showed a full court press but did not go into foul mode once the ball advanced across the mid court line,  A defensive stop and another basket, Rutgers calls their final time out. But at the 1:00 mark, Rutgers called off the dogs as CJ Jackson added one more 3 to make the final score 76-62.

A big difference today, other than the start by Wesson was the fact OSU only had 6  turnovers, none in the first half. The Buckeyes also put together a solid 40 minutes, scoring 37 in he first half, then 39 in the second. If they can continue to improve each week, eventually get Kyle Young back, they still have a  chance to make some noise in the Big Ten tournament an beyond.

Ohio State next laces it up Thursday, 2/7 at 7:00 pm against the Penn State on BTN. The Nittany Lions are currently 0-10 in conference play this season.

– Gregg Watson

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