Basketball Archives – 2017

Buckeyes Advance to Round of 32, Top Jackrabbits
March 15, 2018

Ohio State got all it could handle from the pesky South Dakota State Jackrabbits, but ultimately prevailed by a final score of 81-73. In a tie game with just under 2 minutes remaining, Kam Williams drilled a triple from the right wing while being fouled and calmly buried the free throw to give the Buckeyes a 4-point lead and South Dakota State could not get any closer as Ohio State advances to the round of 32. The win also gives them an opportunity at a rematch against a Gonzaga team that beat Ohio State way back on late Thanksgiving night in Portland, Oregon, for a trip to the sweet 16.

The first half was hotly contested early as the Jackrabbits got out to an early 4 point lead but Ohio State would answer with an 8-0 run and went into the under 12 media timeout with a 4 point lead of their own. Utilizing length and athleticism on both ends of floor, and 3 straight forced turnovers by Andrew Dakich, the Buckeyes were able to extend the lead to 9 after a three by Keita Bates-Diop off a steal by Dakich, forcing South Dakota State to call a timeout with just under 5 minutes to go in the first half. Back to back 3’s from the Jackrabbits cut the Buckeye lead to just 3 out of the timeout forcing Chris Holtmann to call a timeout to calm his team down. The teams would ultimately go into the break deadlocked at 43 with the main men on both sides leading the way. Bates-Diop led Ohio State with 17 and Mike Daum led South Dakota State with 17 as well. The Jackrabbits hit 9 of 16 from deep in the first 20 minutes but the story was the Buckeyes, who attempted 24 3’s in the first half, hitting 9. The 24 attempts exceeded their total attempts in 28 games this season.

The game went back and forth early in the 2nd half and a key moment early as Jae’Sean Tate picked up his 4th personal foul just 4 minutes into the half and had to go to the bench. With the Buckeyes utilizing a small lineup for the majority of the game, they would have to count on Andre Wesson to pick up the slack defensively and he answered the bell. Led by C.J. Jackson and Kam Williams, the Buckeyes went on a 16-0 run midway through the half, gaining a 13 point lead and seemingly had control of the game. A triple from the Jackrabbits would end the run and cut the advantage to 10 and South Dakota State would not go away. A banked in three from the top and a Daum triple in transition was part of a 14-4 run that had the Jackrabbits believing with the Buckeye lead cut to just 2. Not long after, Tate picked up his 5th personal and South Dakota State had all of the momentum. After a pair of free throws tied the game with just under 2 minutes remaining, the play of the game took place with the big 4 point play from Kam Williams. After a Jackrabbit missed 3, Williams rose from the top of the key and was fouled. He calmly nailed all 3 free throws to give the Buckeyes a 7 point lead and it was all but over. Bates-Diop led the Buckeyes with 24 points and 12 boards, while C.J. Jackson added 20 points, 9 rebounds and 5 assists. Kam Williams also came up big, scoring 22 points and pulling down 5 rebounds of his own. The Buckeyes took a season high 40 3’s, hitting 12 and outscoring South Dakota State 18-2 on fast break points.

The game plan in this one forced Ohio State to play small for much of the game which limited Kaleb Wesson’s minutes, and the quickness bothered South Dakota State and kept them out of sync for much of the game. The small lineup forced 13 turnovers, many of which turned into fast break opportunities for the Buckeyes and they took advantage. The Jackrabbits forced Ohio State to the perimeter where they struggled to get much of any rhythm in the half court but they made enough plays when they needed to in order to survive and advance. Look for a different game plan against Gonzaga, who struggled to survive an upset bid by UNC-Greensboro prior to the Buckeye game. If they can take care of the basketball and execute in the half court, they have a chance to get to the sweet 16. In order to do so, they need Tate to stay on the floor and not commit silly fouls. We’ve said it before, but who would’ve thought this year’s Buckeye team would be on the doorstep of the sweet 16? Only the defending National runner-up stands in their way. A tall task indeed, but these guys have surprised us all year, who’s to say they can’t do it again.

Ohio State will face Gonzaga on Saturday in Boise for the right to go to the sweet 16. Tip time TBD.

– Jason Harris​​

 

Buckeyes Fall Late, Bow out of Big Ten Tournament
March 2, 2018

Ohio State fell in their first game for the second straight season, this time with a little help from the men in stripes, losing a late lead and falling for the third time this season to Penn State, 69-68.  Keita Bates-Diop led Ohio State with 25, while Kam Williams and Jae’Sean Tate added 10 each.

The Buckeyes jumped out to a quick 4-point lead early but Penn State took control. The Lions would score the next 12 points to lead by 8 before the Buckeyes answered. Ohio State would utilize a 20-6 run to get a 6-point lead after a turnover and lay in from Andrew Dakich, forcing Nittany Lion coach Pat Chambers to call timeout at the 6:29 mark. The Lions would respond, tying the game at 28 apiece heading into the last media timeout and although Ohio State had an opportunity to take a lead to the locker room on the last possession, Keita Bates-Diop’s jumper from the left baseline fell off the mark and the Lions led by a point after 20 minutes. The key to the first half lead for Penn State was a huge 14-3 advantage in second chance points. Penn State, playing without starting center, Mike Watkins, was the surprising aggressor on the offensive glass and in 50/50 balls in the first half, which was the major factor they held the slim margin at the half. The Buckeyes were led by Bates-Diop’s 8 and Jae’Sean Tate’s 7, while all 8 Buckeyes that played scored. The Lions were essentially a two-man show, with Tony Carr leading all scorers with 14 and Lamar Stephens added 12 in the first half of basketball.

Ohio State got a lead out of the gate in the second half after Tate completed an old-fashioned 3-point play, but a quick 7-0 Penn State run gave the Lions a 5-point cushion.  C.J. Jackson answered that mini spurt with a pair of FT’s to cut the lead back to 3, but Penn State would bounce back out to another 5-0 spurt and the Buckeyes faced their largest deficit of the night at 8. The Buckeyes would fight back to tie it with 10:30 to go and the teams heading to the benches for the media timeout. The teams would go back and forth for much of the next several minutes before an Andre Wesson lay in gave the Buckeyes a 2-point cushion heading into the final media timeout and Bates-Diop heading to the stripe. A miss of the front end of the 1 and 1 was followed by a stop at the other end and when Bates-Diop hit a jumper from the right wing, Ohio State led by 4. A bucket each way and the Buckeyes led by 2 possessions with under 2 minutes remaining. Penn State’s Tony Carr drew a phantom foul from Bates-Diop and split the pair of FT’s and the Buckeyes still led by 3. Penn State would get a stop defensively and on the other end, what looked like a charge was ruled a block on Dakich and the Lions bagged both free throws to cut the lead to 1. Ohio State called timeout with just under 41.5 seconds remaining, but coming out of the timeout; Bates-Diop dribbled at the top of the key and lost the handle giving Penn State a chance. On the ensuing possession, Carr found Julian more wide open in the lane and with 3 seconds remaining, he threw it down, giving Penn State the lead. After each team called a timeout, Jackson raced it up the floor, but there would be no heroics as his deep fader fell well off the mark and the Buckeyes were left stunned.

So, the Buckeyes head into the NCAA tournament with the opposite of momentum. They will now sit and wait nearly 2 full weeks before taking the floor again and will need to regroup. Since the big win at Purdue, this team has faded and faded fast. To be fair, this game was taken away a touch with some of the officiating but that can’t be an excuse. Good teams find a way to win this type of game and they did not. Have we seen the best of Ohio State? Quite possibly. They will get a chance to continue playing in the NCAA tournament, but for how long is on them. This has certainly been a surprise season but success breeds new expectations and a quarterfinal loss to Penn State in the Big Ten tournament falls well short of those expectations. The new season begins in two weeks. Until then we wait.

Ohio State will next take the floor in the NCAA tournament on either March 15th or 16th, opponent, location and time to be determined.

– Jason Harris​​

 

Ohio State Basketball – Regular Season in Review
February 27, 2018

The Ohio State men’s basketball team is coming off one of the more surprise season’s in recent memory, finishing the regular season 24-7 and 15-3 in the Big Ten conference, good for a runner up finish. Led by the conference’s player of the year in Keita Bates-Diop and the conference’s coach of the year, Chris Holtmann, the Buckeyes exceeded by leaps and bounds any of the so-called experts preseason expectations. While I felt they were a bit better than what most of the national media predicted them to be, my 10-8 conference prediction was still not giving them enough credit. The Buckeyes had all the elements that make teams successful through the long grind of a regular season. First, they had a veteran team, led by the grinder, Jae’Sean Tate. They had a big body in the middle in freshman, Kaleb Wesson and they had shooters and capable defenders on the perimeter. Where they severely lacked was in the point guard position and a combination of Tate, C.J. Jackson and the overwhelmingly surprising Andrew Dakich filled that role admirably. The return of the long, rangy and athletic Bates-Diop was the ribbon around the package of a team about to make history. On top of all of that, they had an unwavering chemistry about them. They seemed to all really like each other and the newly hired leader, Chris Holtmann and his staff recognized that quickly after his hire in June.

So how did this all come together? To understand that we need to take a stroll back memory lane to where the program was. The date was March 8th, 2017, the 11th seed Buckeyes were walking off the floor at the Big Ten Tournament in Washington D.C., falling on the tournament’s first day to lowly 14 seed Rutgers in what many considered the low point of the legendary Coach Thad Matta’s illustrious Buckeye career. Just a few days later, the NIT passed on the Buckeyes, leaving them without any postseason and sending the Buckeyes home staring at their 17-15 record wondering where the program stood and where it was going. It didn’t get much better in the spring when prized recruit, Darius Bazely from Cincinnati decided he would de-commit from the Buckeyes citing his desire to have a “bigger stage”. It was a harsh reality that the program had to face due to its lack of recent success. Then, it was found out that point guard JaQuan Lyle left the team long before his arrest in Illinois for public intoxication in May. It was becoming clear that the program was in a state of disarray and that there wasn’t any light at the end of the tunnel.

Fast forward to June 5th when Athletic Director Gene Smith announced that Ohio State and the winningest coach in program history, Thad Matta, would part ways. It was a tough decision and one that wasn’t come to easily but Gene Smith strongly felt it was the right thing for the program. So the Buckeyes coaching search began and just four days later, they had their man. Chris Holtmann was hired as the 14th head basketball coach in Ohio State history, leaving Butler to take the helm in Columbus. Despite being assured by Smith and the powers that be that the leash would be long, he immediately reached out to his veteran leaders, Tate, Bates-Diop and Kam Williams and assured them that this would not be a throw away year and that he wanted to make their final year in Columbus a memorable one but he needed their leadership and buy in to make it happen. And boy did they buy in and in a big way. It had been a tumultuous career of ups and downs for the seniors with just one tournament appearance and no better than a 6th place finish in the Big Ten and that was back in 2014-15. The motivation was there and the buy in was there but there were still questions on the court.

Shortly after Holtmann’s hire, highly recruited point guard Braxton Beverly decided he wanted to play elsewhere and Holtmann also had to remove redshirt freshman Derek Funderburk from the roster for failing to live up to his obligations as a student athlete. Those departures left the Buckeyes scrambling for scholarship players. Enter Andrew Dakich, a graduate transfer from of all places, Michigan, where he was a little used walk on and was planning to play his final year at Quinnipiac. Coach Holtmann also went to work on the recruiting trail, flipping a once Butler commit, Kyle Young from Massillon to Ohio State and gaining a commit from Bloomington, Indiana native Musa Jallow, who would subsequently re-classify to the 2017 class, making him eligible to contribute immediately. But how would it all come together? The Buckeyes now had a roster with some talent, but unproven talent and veterans who hadn’t tasted much success at the college level.

The season started well enough and as expected with four straight wins against less than stellar competition. Then, Ohio State would head west to the PK 80 Invitational on Thanksgiving night where a little dose of reality hit, playing a talented Gonzaga team who handed it to the Buckeyes as most expected. A hard fought win in game two of the tournament over Stanford set up a matchup against Holtmann’s former team, the Butler Bulldogs. Surprisingly the Buckeyes jumped all over the Bulldogs and led by 15 with 5 minutes remaining and looked to coast to the finish line with a very successful 2-1 trip to Oregon. The Bulldogs had other ideas and cranked up the pressure and exposed the Buckeyes’ lack of ball handlers, roaring back to send it to overtime and ultimately the win. The Buckeyes would limp back to Columbus and on a short turnaround would host Clemson in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge. It was yet another opportunity to for the Buckeyes to get a good preseason win. The game went the Buckeyes way for the first half and early in the second as Ohio State built a double digit lead. Unfortunately they Buckeyes lost their legs in the second half and Clemson was able to get the road victory, sending Ohio State to their 3rd loss in 4 games and a 5-3 mark to start the season. This wasn’t an entirely unexpected result for a team not expecting much this year by most outside the program. This wasn’t acceptable to those within the 4 walls of the locker room. They were an eyelash from 7-1 and to a man, felt their best basketball was ahead of them.

Due to the compressed Big Ten schedule this season, the Buckeyes and other Big Ten schools were forced to play a pair of early conference games and Ohio State’s opener would be the always difficult trip to Madison, Wisconsin. The Buckeyes would go into Madison and hand the Badgers their worst ever defeat in the Kohl Center, 83-58, and Ohio State was feeling pretty good about themselves, but knew their rival, Michigan was coming to town with a very talented team just two days later. The Wolverines exploded out to a 20 point lead late in the first half, before the Buckeyes finished the half on a 7-0 run to cut the deficit to 13. The second half, the Buckeyes roared out to a 19-3 run taking control of the game and pulling away late to start the conference season 2-0.

Another 3 games against mid major opponents allowed them to gain a little momentum before heading to New Orleans for a matchup against the defending National Champion North Carolina Tarheels in the CBS Sports classic. The Tarheels took control in the first half while Keita Bates-Diop was on the bench after picking up 2 quick fouls. The Buckeyes would claw back and made it game but the Tarheels would be just a bit too much, pulling away late for the 14 point win. Although it was a loss, the Buckeyes saw something in themselves that gave them the confidence that they could play with one of the better teams in college basketball encouragement moving forward. They finished off non-conference play with a lackluster performance against Miami University, but nonetheless a victory and the Buckeyes sat 11-4 and 2-0 in conference play but knowing what was ahead in the New Year tempered most observer’s enthusiasm.

The New Year started well with a win at a struggling Iowa team but then the win nobody expected. The #1 ranked Michigan State Spartans came to Columbus boasting player of the year candidates and McDonalds All Americans but the Buckeyes would not waver, putting the proverbial smack down on the Spartans, for a 16 point win, led by the ever emerging Bates-Diop’s career high 32 points and established the Buckeyes as a true contender in the Big Ten conference. The wins kept coming for the Buckeyes and before they knew it, they were sitting at 9-0in the Big Ten Conference and the nation was beginning to take notice, ranking the Buckeyes as high as 8th in the AP poll. That’s when the compressed schedule may have started taking its toll on Ohio State. With Penn State coming to town on January 25th, it would be the 4th game in 8 days for the first place Buckeyes. Penn State’s athleticism got the best of Ohio State for much of the game as the Buckeyes looked a step slow. However a furious rally late, capped by a Bates-Diop triple with just seconds remaining tied the game and it looked as if Ohio State had found a second life. The Lions would scramble to ball up the floor and Tony Carr released from 30 feet and banked in a long 3 to dash Ohio State’s hopes of moving to 10-0.

The loss, while devastating, did not deter this veteran laden club who had now established leadership from the always hard working Tate and Bates-Diop who led by example but the most unlikely spot in grad transfer Andrew Dakich who was playing 22 minutes a game, running the point and providing a spark defensively that this team needed. A pair of home wins would follow before the big one in West Lafayette against what looked like an unstoppable 3rd ranked Purdue team who was in control of the Big Ten conference, riding a 19 game winning streak and hadn’t lost a home game for over a year. For much of the game, we got what we expected and the Boilers led by 14 with just 10 minutes remaining. But the tough minded Buckeyes would not go away and kept chipping at the lead in front of a frantic crowd at Mackey Arena. Then, the unthinkable happened as Bates-Diop who’s performance may have cemented himself as the conference’s player of the year, scored the game winner with under 3 seconds remaining and the Buckeyes now sat in first place in the Big Ten and controlled their destiny to a conference crown.

A dominant win over Iowa on February 10thset up the home stretch of basketball and to the amazement of everyone, including their head coach, the Buckeyes were a full game up on the rest of the conference with 5 games remaining. The final stretch was probably their most challenging of the conference season with road tilts at Penn State and Michigan and a season ender at the always difficult Indiana Hoosiers in Bloomington. The stretch didn’t start well with the Buckeyes getting their hat handed to them in State College from start to finish but they still clung to their Big Ten hopes, now tied with Michigan State with 3 games remaining. A trip to Ann Arbor on national TV was played to a sold out crowd in what was termed at Michigan as a “Maize Out”, made for a difficult environment and one the Buckeyes could not escape despite a valiant effort. They had not only lost to their arch rival, they now needed to win out and get a little help to gain the conference crown. They came back home on senior night and in dominant fashion, dispatched Rutgers, sending off Tate, Williams, Dakich and potentially Bates-Diop in resounding fashion. That set up the finale at Assembly Hall in Bloomington. The game went back and forth with the Buckeyes clinging to the lead for the majority of the evening. The Hoosiers were determined on their own senior night and battled the game to double overtime. Indiana scored a late bucket in the second overtime to take a 1 point lead with just seconds remaining and both teams out of timeouts. That’s when the cardiac kids went to work. C.J. Jackson raced up the floor and with Bates-Diop on his left, took it upon himself to end the season in style. Jackson pulled up from well beyond the arc and drilled the triple with under 2 seconds remaining, stunning the Hoosier faithful and spurring a wild celebration of Buckeyes on the floor. It was a dramatic and fitting finish to an improbable season. One in which they would ultimately finish in 2nd place in the Big Ten conference and a potential top 5 seed in the upcoming NCAA tournament.

With that kind of success, naturally comes the post-season awards and the Buckeyes were not lacking in that department. As mentioned previously, Chris Holtmann, to nobody’s surprise was named the Big Ten Coach of the year, while Keita Bates-Diop became the first Buckeye since Evan Turner in 2010 to win the conference player of the year. Bates-Diop also was a unanimous choice to the conference first team, while Jae’Sean Tate appeared on the coaches’ second team. Kaleb Wesson was also named to the Big Ten All-Freshman team. So, team 119, as they refer to themselves, will forever go down in history as one of the most surprising stories in Ohio State and college basketball history. The effort and determination of a group of guys who seemed to genuinely care about one another, who bought into a new head coach, who played as a team as evidenced by the way they shared the basketball, and played the game the right way is something to be admired. They aren’t always the more talented team on the floor, but they played with a level of toughness and grit that more talented teams don’t always bring on a game by game basis. They may lose, but they won’t get out worked. That was their mantra from day 1 and it paid off and then some. There is still more basketball to be played and no one knows how the season will ultimately end, but regardless of what happens next, this team will be forever remembered by how they played and the character of the guys who took the floor each time out. For now, the focus is Madison Square Garden in New York City for the Big Ten tournament, where the Buckeyes will tip on Friday as the 2 seed and the double-bye, the first double-bye this program has had since the Big Ten expanded to 14. They will get much needed rest this week before taking the floor against either Northwestern or a potential revenge game against Penn State. It’s the win or go home time of year and here’s to hoping these guys can play awhile longer because they have been a lot of fun to watch. After the Big Ten tournament, they will await their fate for the NCAA tournament where they will make an appearance for the first time since 2015. So no matter what happens going forward, a big and hearty thank you to Jae’Sean Tate, Kam Williams, Keita Bates-Diop, and Andrew Dakich and their teammates for a job well done. Thanks for the memories fellas and here’s to hoping you can create a few more.

– Jason Harris​​

 

Holtmann,  Bates-Diop, Mitchell Receive Honors
February 26, 2018

What a difference a year makes. Last year the Buckeyes lost to the bottom seed in the Big Ten tournament. This year they will be the #2 seed going into Madison Square Garden. Much of that had to do with the new coach, and a healthy senior. Today the success of the team was rewarded as the conference announced the conference post season awards.  Leading the way was first year Coach Holtmann who was named Coach of the Year and Keita Bates-Diop earned Player of the Year.

In addition, three players were included in the Al-Big Ten selections. Bates-Diop was unanimous choice on First Team, Jae’Sean Tate was selected 2nd Team and Kaleb Wesson earned a spot on the All-Freshman team, and Andrew Dakich was included on the list of Sportsmanship honorees.

It was complete sweep for the Buckeyes as Kelsey Mitchell was named Player of the Year for the women’s team.

 

Jackson Triple Caps Double Overtime Win Over Indiana
February 23, 2018

The Buckeyes needed a victory in Bloomington to stay in the hunt for a conference title. It took two overtimes, but a C.J Jackson three with 1.7 seconds secured the 80-78 victory for Ohio State. Previously this year the only other overtime game for OSU was a loss to Butler. You could not have asked for a closer game as it was tied at the half, at the end of regulation, the end of the first OT, and it took a last second bucket to separate the two teams in the second extra period. Indiana ends the regular season with a record of 16-14, and 9-9 in the Big Ten, it will take a B1G tournament crown to get them in the big dance.  Ohio State sits at 24-7 overall, 15-3 in conference play and should be no worse than a 4 seed on your March Madness brackets.

It did not look like this would be such a close game part way through the first half. The team teams battled back and forth for the first few minutes of the game but Ohio State enjoyed a stretch where they scored 9 unanswered points and took a 26-14. A Cam Williams lay-up forced Indiana coach Archie Miller to call a time out. But the stoppage must have worked as the rest of the half, the Hoosiers outscored the Bucks 19-7 to lock things up 33-33 at the half.​

Ohio State tried to separate themselves to start the half and managed to have a 7 point lead after a Jae’Sean Tate basket at the 16:05 mark but that was the biggest lead they would enjoy the rest of the game. Indiana bounced back to tie it 48-48 and it was very tight the rest of the way. With the score tied 63-63 with 22 seconds remaining, Indiana had the ball for a final shot opportunity. But Robert Johnson missed a shot with 3 seconds remaining which sent to the game into the first overtime. Kaleb Wesson had 5 of OSU’s 7 points in the first OT, but he Indiana had 7 points as well which set up the dramatic second overtime.

In the second overtime, Indiana did not seem as sharp, they may have been feeling the fatigue of the moment rather than the adrenaline. Keita Bates-Diop, who lead all scoring with 24, and Tate took over for the Buckeyes and had them positioned to win with a 77-76 lead and the ball with under a minute to play. Andrew Dakich lost the ball with 16 second breathing some life for the Hoosiers. Their star Juwan Morgan had one more big play in him scoring under the bucket with 0:07 left on the clock, giving the home team a 78-77 lead. Without any time-outs, C.J. Jackson took the ball across mid court and without hesitation fired a long three, even by NBA standards, which found the bottom of the net with :01.7 showing on the clock. Indiana had no response and the game came to a close.

The win was great, but the one glaring separation for these two teams tonight was Ohio State only managed 4 points off the bench while the Hoosiers enjoyed 32 points from their subs. Perhaps it was not part of Holtmann’s game plan but we do need to get more production from Andre Wesson, Micah Potter and Andrew Dakich.

While I enjoy the win, it is hard for me to watch the game and not comment on the officiating. Once again, it appeared there was a lot of ticky-tack fouls called on the Buckeyes and their opponents were getting away with a lot of aggressive contact without penalty. This match-up included several fouls on Ohio State away from the ball.  Even Len Elmore, made note of it on several occasions. OSU had the Wesson brothers foul out and Jae’Sean Tate played most of the second half and overtime periods in foul trouble. Maybe it is nothing and I am looking through scarlet tinted glasses but Buckeyes were called for 21 fouls compared to only 13 for Indiana. 13 fouls in 50 minutes of play?  Really? It did not cost them this game but I look forward to seeing their games in the tournament with non-Big Ten officials.

The Buckeyes will now wait to see how the rest of the Big Ten finishes but they do have until next Friday to rest as they have secured a bye for the first two rounds. If Wisconsin can upset Michigan State in Madison, OSU will get a share of the conference crown and secure the #1 seed for the Big Ten tournament. If the Spartans win, Ohio State will settle for the #2 seed and face the winner of the 7/10 match-up. Four teams are still in play for those slots but one of them is Penn State.  Wouldn’t it be nice to get to see the Lions one more time this season with a chance redeem the two losses during the regular season?

– Gregg Watson​​

 

Buckeyes Dominate Knights
February 20, 2018

On a night when Buckeye fans said goodbye to four incredible graduates, the Buckeyes ran away from Rutgers, clinching a double-bye in the Big Ten tournament, winning in dominant fashion, 79-52 to move to 23-7 and 14-3 in the Big Ten. The Buckeyes said goodbye one last time in the Schottenstein Center to seniors, Andrew Dakich, Kam Williams, Jae’Sean Tate and Keita Bates-Diop and they sent them off in style. The Buckeyes ended their two game slide keeping their hopes alive for a Big Ten title. They will need a win in Bloomington and a Wisconsin win over Michigan State on Sunday to accomplish that goal.

The Buckeyes started the game with a senior laden lineup with Kam Williams and Andrew Dakich getting the start and early it was all Buckeyes. Williams was the man with the hot hand early, drilling 3 triples as Ohio State utilized an 11-0 run to jump out to a 30-11 lead with just 6 minutes remaining in the half and looked as if they would coast in the home finale. Rutgers, meanwhile was struggling to find any offense, hitting on just 5 of their first 20 shot attempts. The Knights, to their credit, cranked up the D and it led to offense as Rutgers finished the half on a 16-2 run to trim the lead to just 5 at the half, hitting 7 of their last 8 shot attempts leaving the big crowd in the Schottenstein Center stunned at the break. Williams led the Buckeyes with 11 first half points and Kaleb Wesson, who left the game and went to the locker room with an apparent injury just before the big Rutgers run, added 7.

The Buckeyes came out of the locker room in the second half roaring and after a Kaleb Wesson ‘and 1’ three point play and a C.J. Jackson triple, the Buckeyes expanded the lead to 11 in a flash, forcing Rutgers to call a timeout less than 2 minutes in. Rutgers would go on an extended scoring drought and the Buckeyes made them pay building the lead to 17 with 13 minutes remaining. When Jackson hit a floater in the lane, the Buckeyes led by 21 by virtue of an 18-2 run to open the half, with 11 coming from Jackson. The Buckeyes would build the lead to as many as 28 and eventually closed out the 2017-2018 home slate with the 27-point victory. In a game dedicated to the seniors, it was the underclassmen that led the way. Jackson led the Buckeyes with 18 and Kaleb Wesson added 14. Kam Williams scored 13 in his last home game and Jae’Sean Tate added 9 points and 10 rebounds. In a rare off night for the presumptive Big Ten player of the year Keita Bates-Diop, his teammates picked up the slack and led the Buckeyes to victory.

One game to go and a chance to win the Big Ten championship. Let that sink in for a minute. Whether that goal is accomplished or not will never diminish what this team has done this season. All of Buckeye nation should be extremely proud of this team and especially the seniors who have seen the program at its lowest point but have worked their tails off and have stayed the course and are finally able to see that hard work rewarded. Hopefully they can get the win in Bloomington and get some help from the Badgers so another banner can be hung in the Schott. It comes down to this, a win and the Buckeyes clinch at least the 2 seed in New York. With a win and a Spartan loss, they sit as the 1. Either way, they can finish no worse than 3rd which is an incredible feat.

The Buckeyes close out the regular season with a road tilt at Indiana on Friday night. Tip time for that game is set for 8 pm on FS1.

– Jason Harris​​

 

Ohio State Finishes 2017 Slate With a Win
December 30, 2017

Ohio State, who hadn’t played since the loss to North Carolina a week ago, came out flat, but mustered enough energy to pull out a 72-59 win over a pesky Miami Redhawk squad. The Buckeyes controlled most of the first half and on several occasions looked like they were going to pull away but Miami answered with some big shots that kept the Buckeyes within arms length. Neither team shot the ball particularly well early and despite hitting just 3 of their first 16, Ohio State began to pull away, doubling Miami up at 18-9 forcing the Redhawks to call a timeout with just under 9 minutes remaining in the first half. Miami would answer, closing to within a hoop, but Ohio State closed the half with a run of their own and after a Redhawk buzzer beater from mid court rimmed just out, the teams went into the locker room with the Buckeyes leading just 35-28.  CJ Jackson and Keita Bates-Diop led Ohio State in the first 20 minutes with 8 apiece.

The second half went back and forth early until a 12-2 run gave the Buckeyes their largest lead of 17 and it looked like Ohio State would run away with it, but Miami once again answered, going on a 13-1 run to cut the lead to 5 at the midway point of the second half. Ohio State would pull away a little again, stretching the lead to 9 at the under 8 timeout, but Miami would fight and claw and would not go away and behind some timely 3 balls, they closed to within 3 with 6 minutes remaining. That would be as close as they would get as Ohio State cranked up the pressure on the defensive end and finished the game on a 15-5 run to complete their 11th win on the season. Bates-Diop led the Buckeyes with 19 points and 9 boards and Jackson added 16 and 6 assists.  Kam Williams also hit some timely shots down the stretch and finished with 15 while Jae’Sean Tate added 11 for the victorious Buckeyes.

That will complete the non-conference portion of the schedule for the 2017-18 Buckeyes and sitting at 11-4 is probably the best even the most optimistic of Buckeye fan could’ve hoped for. The unusual mix of a pair of conference games early, means the Buckeyes will head into January not only 11-4 overall, but 2-0 in Big Ten play and playing with some confidence. If I had to assign a letter grade to the so called ‘1st season’, I would give them a B+. They have played about as well as I expected but at the same time, there are some areas that need cleaning heading into conference play. They are improving at taking care of the basketball but there are times when they try to make the perfect play or pass instead of just making the smart play. They also must do a better job on the glass. They are allowing teams way too many opportunities on the offensive end and Big Ten teams will make them pay. Having said that, this team has the capability and potential to finish in the top half of the conference and threaten to gain a bid into the NCAA tournament in March. The return of Keita Bates-Diop from injury has been a big boost for this team both offensively and his ability to defend with his length and the emergence of C.J. Jackson as a scorer has been a big boost for this basketball team in its attempt to find that 3rd and 4th scoring option. Stay tuned for a wild ride throughout January and February in Big Ten play. It all starts next week and it should be a lot of fun.

Ohio State will resume Big Ten play next Thursday in a winnable road game at Iowa. Tip for that one is set for 7 p.m.

​- Jason Harris​

 

Buckeyes Battle But Fall to Tarheels
December 23, 2017

The Ohio State basketball Buckeyes showed they belonged but fell short of the upset, falling to the hot shooting 5th ranked North Carolina Tarheels by a final score of 86-72. Carolina struggled to get anything going inside but the perimeter was a different story, scorching the nets for 13 three’s. The long range shooting, combined with a late first half run was the difference in the Tarheel victory. The Buckeyes creeped as close as 9 and had the ball with under 6 minutes remaining, but a couple turnovers and runouts from the Tarheels ballooned the lead to 19 with under 4 minutes remaining. The Buckeyes didn’t quit, cutting the lead to 12 after Keita Bates-Diop completed an old fashioned three point play with just under 2 minutes to go, and then to 9 after a Bates-Diop triple with a minute remaining, but they just had too big a hole to climb out of against a team as talented as the defending national champions. Ohio State was led in scoring by Bates-Diop who dropped in 26 and C.J. Jackson added 19.  Kaleb Wesson chipped in 12, all in the second half for the Buckeye attack. Jae’Sean Tate added 9 points and 9 rebounds as the Buckeyes fell to 10-4 with one more game in December.

The first half went back and forth early but thanks to some poor officiating, 9 triples from the Heels and foul trouble to the two Buckeye leaders, Bates-Diop and Tate, the Tarheels went to the locker room with a 14-point cushion. Bates-Diop, playing several minutes with 2 fouls, hit a free throw, completing a 3 point play and tying the game at 23, then exiting for the half. Following his exit, the Tarheels finished the half on an 18-4 run and all but killing Ohio State’s hopes of an upset. Jackson, who scored Ohio State’s first 11 of the game, led the Buckeyes with 15 in the first half, while Bates-Diop in limited minutes, added 7.

A win in a game like this certainly would’ve helped the resume, but a loss doesn’t necessarily hurt it. There are plenty of positives to take from this game as well as some things they will need to shore up to win a game of this magnitude. They were most definitely hurt by some poor officiating and key players in foul trouble but it wasn’t necessarily the reason they came up short. Overall, this is looking more and more like a team that will belong in the dance in March but they will need to come up with some big wins in the conference to solidify their stance. Fortunately, this is an improving team and there are several opportunities for a signature win or two.

Ohio State will finish 2017, hosting the Miami Redhawks in the Schott, next Saturday. Tip time is high noon.

​- Jason Harris​

 

Buckeyes Run Away From The Citadel
December 19, 2017

In a final tune-up prior to the big showdown in New Orleans with defending national champion, #5 North Carolina, the Ohio State men’s basketball team dispatched The Citadel Bulldogs in short order by a final score of 94-65. The Buckeyes led from wire to wire, taking a 22-point lead into the locker room at in large part due to a 15-0 run late in the half. It was a game where Coach Chris Holtmann was able to get a lot of time for his bench with no player playing more than 18 minutes and 11 of the 13 players reaching the scoring column.

The Buckeyes as a team assisted on a season high 27 of 37 made field goals and outscored the Bulldogs 22-0 in fast break points. The Citadel plays and up and down style of basketball and the Buckeyes to their credit did a great job in their transition defense, which limited the Bulldogs’ opportunities. The Citadel, one of 7 Division 1 schools without a senior on the roster and struggling with limited size in the post, settled for long jumpers all evening, attempting a season high 42 threes, making just 13.  Keita Bates-Diop and Kam Williams led Ohio State in scoring with 17 apiece, while C.J. Jackson added 13 and 7 assists and Andrew Dakich chipped in a career high 10 to go along with 5 dimes.

After playing limited minutes in recent games of late, both Kyle Young and Micah Potter saw significant minutes and both pulled down 8 rebounds in the win. For the game, Ohio State shot 50% from the floor and hitting 13 of 35 3-point attempts with a handful of those attempts coming in the waning minutes from the walk-ons looking to get in the scorebook.

The Buckeyes run of cupcakes ends with promotion to the adults table on Saturday and they will go in with a lot of confidence. They have done a much better job of taking care of the basketball and lead all of college basketball in field goal percentage since the calendar turned to December. They will be challenged in the post but if they can stay fundamental, not try to make the big play, but make the smart play, they will have a chance to compete against Carolina. Either way, it is a no lose situation for the Buckeyes. If they lose, they were supposed to, but if they can pull the upset, then they will have the biggest win on their resume in several years which will go a long way in determining their fate in March.

Next up, Ohio State heads to New Orleans, where they will take on the 5th ranked North Carolina Tarheels in the CBS Sports Classic. Tip time on CBS is scheduled for 1:30pm.

​- Jason Harris​

 

Buckeyes Down Mountaineers
December 16, 2017

Ohio State coming off a week layoff didn’t miss a beat, rolling to their 4th straight victory, defeating Appalachian State 80-67, moving to 9-3 on the season. The Buckeyes opened up a somewhat close game early, going on a 6-0 run late in the half, capped off by a great hustle play by Keita Bates-Diop. He dove on the floor near the midcourt stripe, scooping the loose ball and having the presence of mind to pitch it to Andrew Dakich, who drove to the rim, spun and found a streaking Jae’Sean Tate for the slam, stretching the lead to 10 and ultimately to a 13-point Buckeye lead at the break.

Ohio State exploded out of the gate in the second 20 minutes, stretching the lead to 17 before App State converted an and one opportunity, cutting the lead to 15 before alarms began sounding throughout the Schottenstein center causing both teams to leave the floor and ending up emptying the arena. The delay lasted approximately 15 minutes when fans came back out and play resumed on the floor. Apparently, a smoke alarm was tripped in a concession area causing a bizarre turn of events within the Schottenstein Center.

Following the delay, the Mountaineers went on a bit of a run of their own, cutting the Buckeye lead to just 9, which was the closest they would get as the Buckeyes stretched the lead to as many as 20 before settling with a 13 point win. Utilizing a strong inside game, and length defensively on the perimeter, the Buckeyes were able to impose their will on the Mountaineers. Tate led the Buckeyes with 19 and Bates-Diop added 18 and 8 rips while Kaleb Wesson continued to be a force in the paint for Ohio State, scoring 16 and pulling down 9 boards.  Kam Williams also chipped in 11 for the winning Ohio State attack.

The Buckeyes showed little rust after their week long break of games for final exams beating an athletic group of Appalachian State Mountaineers who despite their poor record, will most likely prove to be a solid win at year end. The schedule will now get back to normal, playing a couple games per week to finish December before jumping back into conference play in January.

The Buckeyes next host The Citadel on Tuesday night at the Schott with tip coming for that one at 7pm.
​- Jason Harris​

 

Buckeyes Return To Non-Conference Schedule With Another Win
December 9, 2017

The Ohio State Basketball Buckeyes played a couple of bigs down but it didn’t matter as Ohio State rolled past William and Mary 97-62. Playing without Micah Potter and Kyle Young. The depth of Ohio State was challenged and despite looking a little sleepy early on the defensive end, they woke up and ran past the Tribe, locking down their defense and getting whatever they wanted in the paint against a combination man and zone defense employed by William and Mary. With both bigs out, the lone post player was Kaleb Wesson so Keita Bates-Diop was forced to play both the 4 and 5 and although he struggled at times defensively, broke out with a career high 27 points, hitting 11 of his 16 attempts, with many of them coming from the middle of the zone.

The Buckeyes knew they’d have to stretch the floor defensively due to the Tribe’s propensity to shoot the 3 ball and early they were exposed with dribble drive penetration. Once they shored that up, they blew the game open late in the first half. After trading buckets early and trailing by a point with just over 12 minutes left in the first half, the Buckeyes went on a 27-4 run that sealed the win, going into the locker room with a 16 point lead. For the game, they held the Tribe to just 5 of 16 from long range, well below their season average of 47%. The second half was more of the same as the Bucks hit 10 of their first 11 shot attempts and built the lead to 40 before finishing with the 35-point win. Bates-Diop led all scorers with 27 while Kaleb Wesson, who was very effective early, finished with 17 and C.J. Jackson, who was re-inserted into the starting lineup finished with 16 and Kam Williams added 13 for the Buckeyes who moved to 8-3 on the season.

Now the Buckeyes take a bit of a break to complete final exams, but riding a bit of a high, winning 3 in a row, including the 2 conference wins. This was a game that was challenging on paper due to the Tribe’s ability to shoot the basketball but to their credit, after the sluggish start, they rose to the challenge and will feel pretty confident about themselves going into the week off. They have demonstrated an ability to hit from deep, while the offense certainly flows best coming from the interior with Wesson and the length of Bates-Diop and strength of Jae’Sean Tate. They have a couple of tune-ups prior to the showdown in New Orleans with the defending national champion North Carolina Tarheels.

Next up is a home tilt with the Appalachian State Mountaineers next Saturday evening. Tip time for that game is 6pm.

– Jason Harris​

 

Big Comeback Propels Buckeyes to 2-0 Big Ten Start
December 4, 2017

Ohio State, less than 48 hours removed from a big road win at Wisconsin, dug out of a huge first half hole, rallying to defeat Michigan 71-62 to move to 2-0 in Big Ten play and 7-3 overall. It was a game of big runs on both sides as Michigan could do no wrong early turning a 6 point lead at the 8 minute mark into a 16 point advantage just 5 minutes later, utilizing their quickness and hot shooting from deep to build a big lead. That lead quickly stretched to 20 and it looked like it would be a tough night for Ohio State. Just when you thought they were out of it and mentally exhausted from the quick turnaround, a Keita Bates-Diop 3, combined with a foul in the post put Kaleb Wesson to the stripe and he buried both and the Buckeyes in one possession cut the lead to 15. A thunderous slam from Jae’Sean Tate from the right baseline capped off a 7-0 run that left Ohio State with momentum but still trailing 43-30 as both teams went to the locker room.

The momentum carried over into the second half as a quick 5-0 run cut the Michigan lead to just 8, forcing coach John Beilein to take a timeout with just under 18 minutes remaining to try an stem the tide. That didn’t happen. Keyed by suffocating defense, Ohio State kept the foot on the gas and heading into the under 16 timeout, the lead was cut to just 5. When Michigan finally did hit a 3 from the left corner, it ended a 16-0 run spanning both halves and had cut the lead to just 4. The Buckeyes finally took their first lead of the game at the 12:29 mark on Bates-Diop’s two free throws and that lead was stretched to 5 with 9 minutes to go, forcing Michigan to call another timeout. Each team traded baskets before Michigan went on a 9-0 run of their own, turning the Buckeye 5 point lead into a 4 point deficit. That lead would be short lived as Ohio State clamped down on defense again and after a Tate runner in the lane got the Buckeyes within two, a Kam Williams jumper with just under 4 minutes to go tied the game and the Buckeyes would not trail again. The rest of the damage by Ohio State came at the free throw line, burying 11 of their final 12 attempts and playing lock down defense to secure the win. Bates-Diop led Ohio State with 18 points and 9 rebounds and C.J. Jackson, who once again came off the bench, added 17 and Tate chipped in 14 for the winners. Michigan, who was led by Moritz Wagner’s 14 shot just 17% from the floor in the second half as Ohio State ramped up the intensity, not only guarding better on the perimeter, but frustrating Michigan with active hands in the post as well. Ohio State also did a much better job taking care of the ball in the second half, turning it over just 3 times compared to 7 in the opening 20 minutes.

I’ll take a show of hands from those of you who thought Ohio State would be sitting at 2-0 and tied for first in the Big Ten going into January. I bet even the most die-hard Buckeye fans wearing scarlet and gray glasses wouldn’t have expected this, but that’s exactly what we have. This is a fun basketball team to watch. They play with tremendous energy and have no quit in them. It’s a refreshing style of basketball after the last few years of having some complacency in the program. There will be some ups and downs with this team because it is a young group but enjoy what they have done and will continue to do as the season progresses. For now, enjoy first place Buckeye nation, it may not last all season but it’s fun being back on top again, if only for a few more weeks.

The Buckeyes head back out of conference for the rest of December, hosting the William and Mary Tribe on Saturday in the Schott. Tip for that game is high noon.

​- Jason Harris​

 

Buckeyes Win Big Ten Opener
December 2, 2017

The Basketball Buckeyes kicked off an all Buckeye and Badger Saturday by rolling past the basketball Badgers, dominating from start to finish in an 83-58 win to open the Big Ten season. With the Buckeyes struggling to take care of the basketball in blowing leads in their last two games against Clemson and Butler, coach Chris Holtmann changed his starting lineup, inserting Kam Williams at the 2 and moving Jae’Sean Tate to the point and electing to bring C.J. Jackson off the bench. That change worked in spades as Tate and his teammates scorched the nets early, shooting nearly 80% from the floor in the first half, and hitting 7 for 7 from long range and 18 of 23 overall in route to a 23 point first half lead. The first half was all Buckeyes on both ends holding the badgers to just 5 made field goals.

Early in the second half it was more dominance as the Buckeyes turned to the post, feeding big man Kaleb Wesson and a 12-2 run early built the lead as large as 35 and the rout was on. Wesson led the Buckeyes with 19 and the double-double machine, Keita Bates-Diop finished with 17 points and 11 rebounds as the Buckeyes gave the Badgers their worst loss at Kohl Center since 1998. Tate added 16 and Jackson 10 as Ohio State opened the Big Ten season with a big road win.

So, Ohio State now sits at 6-3 and will play one more conference game in December, hosting Michigan on Monday. This team clearly has talent and after blowing leads in their last two losses, they clearly could be even better record wise. They have a chance with a home game next, to get the conference slate started with momentum. The Buckeyes lack depth but they have the ability as seen today, and can make some noise in an average conference and a road win at one of the more difficult venues proves that. When they are making shots like they were tonight, they are dangerous, but they showed in the second half how they can be especially good when they are starting the offense by going inside to Wesson who has a chance to be very special. The lineup change paid dividends today but long term bringing Jackson off the bench can be beneficial to him and the team by allowing him to understand how teams are defending and can come in a provide a spark. The future is certainly bright and days like this only excites me more because of the potential of how good this team can be. They won’t always shoot as well as they did in the first half, but the proved in the second half that they aren’t just one dimensional.

The Buckeyes continue the early season Big Ten play as they host the team up north on Monday evening at 6:30 PM in the Schott.

– Jason Harris​

 

Ohio State Drops Second Straight
November 29, 2017

Ohio State fell to 5-3 on the young season, dropping their second straight and third in four games, this time to Clemson in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge by a final score of 79-65. For the second straight game, the Buckeyes blew a double-digit lead in the second half. Early, it looked like it might be Ohio State’s night as they rushed out to a 22-11 lead entering the under 12 timeout. After the Buckeyes stretched the lead to 13, Clemson went on a 10-0 run before the Buckeyes stretched it out again and when Kaleb Wesson drained a 3 from the top of the key, the Buckeyes went into the break with a 37-30 lead and all was well.

The Buckeyes were able to stretch the lead to 11 early and forced Clemson to take a timeout with 17:35 to go in the game. The Tigers came out of the timeout roaring, cutting the lead to just 3 at the 14 minute mark. The Buckeyes clung to a 2 point advantage with a 11:49 to go as the teams went to the benches for the under 12 timeout. From there it was all Clemson, taking their first lead since 3-0 at the 11:05 mark and never trailed again, outscoring the Buckeyes 42 to 18 the rest of the way, as the Buckeyes looked lethargic on both ends of the floor. Some of that could be due to the recent travel schedule, as they seemed to run out of gas.  Keita Bates-Diop led Ohio State with 21 and Kaleb Wesson added 15 for the losing Buckeyes.

Ohio State has a lot of work to do. That much is obvious. They struggle handling the basketball. They have little movement on offense and if they aren’t hitting shots, they struggle to put the ball in the basket. Couple that with the poor free throw shooting and it’s a recipe for disaster. Tonight was a microcosm of their struggles thus far this season. They must do a better job of getting the ball in the paint and working the offense from the inside out. The second half the Buckeyes were clearly worn down, turning the ball over 9 times, hitting just 7 of 15 from the stripe and 1 of 6 from deep. Chris Holtmann and company better figure it out quick because it doesn’t get any easier from here as conference play begins Saturday.

It gets real for the Buckeyes as they start Big Ten play, travelling to Wisconsin to play the Badgers at 5PM on Saturday, a few hours before the Buckeyes and Badgers get after it on the gridiron in Indianapolis.

​- Jason Harris​

 

Buckeyes Lose By a Point in Overtime
November 27, 2017

The Buckeyes appeared to be in control in regulation, with a 16 point lead in the second half. Yet Butler came back to close within 59-54 on Kelan Martin’s 3-pointer with 1:31 left in regulation. Nate Fowler added a pair of free throws for the Bulldogs to get even closer. Kamar Baldwin’s 3-pointer with 16 seconds left tied it at 59. Then Martin hit a layup with 3.8 seconds left and Butler edged Ohio State 67-66 in overtime on Sunday for the final day of the Phil Knight Invitational tournament.

 

Bucks Bounce Back, Defeat Stanford
November 24, 2017

Less than 24 hours after struggling through a beat down at the hands of Gonzaga, Ohio State rebounded to knock off Stanford in the consolation round of the PK80 Invitational in Portland, Oregon by a final score of 79-71. After getting off to a slow start, a run late in the first half and early in the 2nd propelled the Buckeyes to a solid victory. Down 10 with less than 3 minutes remaining in the first half, Keita Bates-Diop led the Buckeyes on an 11-1 run to finish the half and tie the game. During the run, Bates-Diop drilled 3 big triples, part of his first half team high 12, to give the Buckeyes momentum heading to the locker room. Prior to that run, Ohio State had scored just 49 points in the previous 55:15 of game time dating back to midway through the first half of the Gonzaga game when they trailed 33-31. Although the offense struggled against the length of the Cardinal zone other than the late push, the Buckeyes were able to convert 9 Stanford turnovers into 12 points which enabled them to stay in the game. On the flip side, the Cardinal had 0 points off just 5 Buckeye turnovers in the first half.

The Buckeyes (5-1) carried the momentum into the second half where they were able to take control of the game and grab a lead they would never relinquish. During the first 6 minutes of the second half, Ohio State outscored Stanford 16-6, taking a 10-point lead and forcing Stanford to call a timeout with just under 14 minutes to play.  C.J. Jackson and Jae’Sean Tate took over the game offensively in the 2nd 20 minutes. Tate scored 10 of his 14 and Jackson dropped in 16 of his game and career high 23 as the Buckeyes found a rhythm offensively. Ohio State began to get their offense going from the inside out, which created open looks on the perimeter for Jackson, and he converted, connecting on 4 of his 6 attempts from deep. With Tate penetrating and getting to the rim, it collapsed the defense and allowed some good looks, and to their credit, they took advantage. Both Bates-Diop and Tate finished with double-doubles, with Bates-Diop grabbing 11 boards and 18 points and Tate adding 10 rips to go along with the aforementioned 14 points.  Kaleb Wesson added 10 big points while battling foul trouble all game long and ultimately fouling out.

Overall a solid win for the Buckeyes, who showed that not only could they bounce back from adversity in the loss to Gonzaga, but that they could find a way to grind out a win when things weren’t going their way offensively early. This team has a chance to compete on most nights when Bates-Diop is engaged offensively and looking to score and if Kaleb Wesson can understand how to play a little more in control and avoid silly fouls, he could be a big presence in the paint, which is something Ohio State hasn’t had since Jared Sullinger.

With the win, Ohio State will play its final game in the PK80 against Chris Holtmann’s former team in the Butler Bulldogs. That game will tip at either 3 or 3:30 on Sunday afternoon.

– Jason Harris​

 

Buckeyes Fall to #17 Zags
November 24, 2017

The Ohio State basketball Buckeyes lost their first game of the Chris Holtmann era, falling to the 17th ranked Gonzaga Bulldogs in the early morning hours 86-59. The game, the first of 3 that the Buckeyes will play in Portland, Oregon in the PK80 Invitational tournament, didn’t tip until after 12:30 am eastern but the Buckeyes came out to play early. The Buckeyes went toe to toe with the Zags, a participant in last year’s final four, due to some hot shooting from Musa Jallow and C.J. Jackson who found their stroke early. However, they got out of sorts offensively late in the half as the Bulldogs scored the last 12 of the half to lead by 13 at the break. The Buckeyes failed to score in the last 7:48 of the half and the Zags took full advantage heading into the locker room with a comfortable lead. Jackson led the Buckeyes in the first 20 minutes with 10 and Jallow added 8. However, due to an ankle injury, center Micah Potter was forced to sit out of this game and the lack of depth was felt as freshman Kaleb Wesson had to shoulder the load in the post. It came back to haunt the Buckeyes, as late in the half Wesson picked up a 3rd foul as Kyle Young was waiting at the scorer’s table to replace him so an already thin front line got much thinner.

The second half was more of the same as the Zags bumped the lead quickly to 19 with a pair of 3’s and Chris Holtmann was forced to call a quick timeout as the Buckeyes looked defeated. Following the timeout, the Buckeyes scored 5 quick points, all by senior forward Jae’Sean Tate and went into the under 16 with a little momentum. But, Gonzaga, who shot the ball well all night, went back to work and extended the lead to 22 and the game was for all intents and purposes over. The Buckeyes, after starting the game 5 of 7 from 3, went ice cold, hitting only 1 of their next 13 and with a clear depth issue in the paint, they had to shoot much better to compete in this game and unfortunately, they did not. On the flip side, the Zags hit 12 of 25 from long range and looked comfortable for the majority of the game. Tate and Jackson led Ohio State with 12 apiece and Kaleb Wesson added 10.  Keita Bates-Diop chipped in 7 to go along with 10 rebounds for the losing Buckeyes.

It was most definitely a good experience for the young Buckeye group. They fell into some old habits at times of settling for long jumpers, but a lot of that was due to the Zags stellar defense on the interior forcing the smallish Buckeyes outside the paint.

The Buckeyes are certainly not elite for now and they are a long way from it, but they didn’t quit. They just ran into a better team that shot the ball extremely well. There will be better days in the future and hopefully they will learn from this one and come out in game 2 ready to go and bounce back.

Ohio State plays again in Portland later tonight against the Stanford Cardinal. Tip time for that one is approximately 9 pm Eastern.

​- Jason Harris​

 

Buckeyes Tame the Tigers, Move to 3-0
November 16, 2017

The Ohio State basketball Buckeyes improved to 3-0 on the young season, surviving a late surge by Texas Southern and defeating the Tigers 82-64. Despite playing without Freshman Kaleb Wesson, who was suspended by Chris Holtmann one game for being late to a couple team functions, the Buckeyes cruised to their third straight win to open the season.  Keita Bates-Diop recorded his third straight double double, scoring 17 points and ripping down 12 boards to lead the Buckeyes. Chris Holtmann made a starting lineup change for this game, electing to bring 5th year senior guard Kam Williams off the bench and in his stead was young Freshman Musa Jallow and the move paid off. Jallow led the Buckeyes in the first half with 10 points and five rebounds, helping his teammates go into the locker room with a 42-29 lead after the first 20 minutes.

The Buckeyes jumped on Texas Southern early in the second half, extending the lead to as many as 18 early before they seemed to relax a bit and after an 8-0 Tiger run, the lead was just nine heading into the under 12 minute media timeout.. The Buckeyes seemed out of sorts all of sudden on offense as the Tigers extended pressure to midcourt and got Ohio State, who looked very good most of the night carving up the zone defense, out of sync. After Bates-Diop drilled a three to get the lead back to 12, the Tigers once again responded. This time it was a 12-2 run cutting the lead to just two with a little over five minutes to play. That’s when the Buckeyes settled down and collected themselves and finally regained control of the basketball game.  Micah Potter who scored seven of the 13 during the run led a 13-0 run over the next 2+ minutes and the game essentially was over. For the game, Potter scored 17 points and pulled down four boards while going 9-10 from the stripe and possibly playing his best game as a Buckeye. Jae’Sean Tate added 17 points as well to go along with 7 rips. Musa Jallow added 13 and 6 for the winning Buckeyes.  C.J. Jackson, who had a dismal night shooting the basketball, hitting on just two of 13 from the floor including 1-9 from deep, did contribute nine assists to the winning cause. Texas Southern was playing without leading scorer Demontrae Jefferson was led on the night by Donte Clark who scored 17 points in the loss.

The Buckeyes certainly showed improvement against a team that will win its share of games this season. They moved the basketball quick and fluidly and got to the open spots in the zone. The key to beating a zone defense is quick passing and ball reversals and I thought the Buckeyes were superb at that tonight. Also a big step forward in the development of young freshman Musa Jallow, who not only adds athleticism on the floor, he adds length on the perimeter on the defensive end and provides the Buckeyes an explosiveness that they don’t get from Kam Williams. So now, there is one more tune-up prior to heading west to play in the PK80 tournament in Oregon where the level of competition rises significantly. So far, I like the progression of this young group led by Tate and Bates-Diop. If they can continue to have Potter and Jallow play like they did tonight and get Kaleb Wesson back, they have a chance to compete on most nights. If anything, they play a fun brand of basketball to watch and it will be interesting to watch them grow and mature as a basketball team.

Ohio State plays again on Sunday when they host Northeastern at the Schott. Game time set for 2:00 pm.

​- Jason Harris​

 

Ohio State Cruises Past Radford
November 12, 2017

Ohio State moved to 2-0 on the season Sunday, cruising to an 82-72 win over Radford in the Schottenstein Center.  Keita Bates-Diop led all scorers with 22 points and completed his second straight double double, adding 10 rebounds.  Jae’Sean Tate also added a double double, dropping 13 points and pulling down 10 rebounds of his own.  C.J. Jackson had a big game for the Buckeyes, scoring a career high 19 points and adding 6 rebounds and 3 assists as the Chris Holtmann era begins with back-to-back wins. Ohio State led after the first 20 minutes 44-34 in a half that saw the Buckeyes and Highlanders combine for 19 turnovers. With Ohio State up just 11-10 and struggling to get anything going offensively, CJ Jackson led Ohio State on a 16-2 run, hitting a pair of triples during the stretch that allowed the Buckeyes to gain some separation and enter the break with the lead. The second half saw Ohio State ratchet up the defense, holding Radford without a field goal for the first 7 minutes, going on a 17-1 run to put the game on ice. The Buckeyes coasted to the finish and led by as many as 25 before Radford ended the game on a 13-2 run to complete the scoring. Kam Williams dropped in 11 for the game to put four Buckeyes in double figures on the afternoon.

The same issues arose again for Ohio State as they struggled for the second straight game to take care of the basketball. The lack of a true point guard could hamper this team all season. Radford exposed the Buckeyes at times with backcourt pressure, creating turnovers and easy buckets. Unfortunately, for Coach Holtmann and his staff, Mike Conley Jr. is not walking through the Value City Arena door, so they must continue to work with what they have and that is a combination of C.J. Jackson, Andrew Dakich and Jae’Sean Tate running the point. They also must do a better job on perimeter defense as Radford was able to knock down 11 triples. Overall, a nice win for the young Buckeye squad who despite having some pronounced deficiencies do not lack in effort and hustle.

Ohio State returns to the floor next Thursday when they host Texas Southern at 7 pm.

​- Jason Harris​

 

Buckeyes Stomp Colonials as Holtmann Era Begins
November 10, 2017

The Chris Holtmann era of Ohio State basketball began as the Buckeyes rolled to a 95-64 win over Robert Morris on Friday night. The game also marked the return of Keita Bates-Diop, who missed the majority of last season with a leg injury. He returned in style, posting a double double, leading the Buckeyes with 19 points and 11 rebounds in just 23 minutes.  Kam Williams added 16 and in their freshman debuts, Kaleb Wesson and Musa Jallow added 13 and 11 each. Robert Morris jumped out early with a pair of 3’s to a 6-2 advantage but Ohio State scored the next 7 and never trailed again, getting the lead to 46-26 after the first 20 minutes. Bates-Diop led the Buckeyes with 13 in the first half and Kaleb Wesson added 8.. On the night, Ohio State out-rebounded the smaller Colonials by a whopping margin of 51-23, while shooting 59% from the floor. The concerning number that jumps out is the 19 turnovers. Fortunately, they kept Robert Morris from capitalizing for the most part, as the Colonials were only able to muster 13 points off the turnovers.

Ohio State played all 13 available players in this game and put 10 in the scoring column. Other Buckeyes making their debut, Kyle Young from Mansfield scored 4 points on a pair of thundering dunks and added three boards and Andrew Dakich who played significant minutes at point guard failed to score but did contribute with three rebounds and five assists.

It was certainly a successful debut for Chris Holtmann and a game that a coach absolutely loves. They were able to win comfortably, he was able to get all his guys meaningful minutes and there is plenty to work on moving forward. There will certainly be ups and downs through the course of this season but you have to like what you see from this group. They play hard, they play aggressive and play a very up-tempo style and put an emphasis on maximizing the number of possessions in a game as evidenced by the 95 points. As we move forward, they will have to do a better job of decision-making and valuing the basketball but for today, it was a successful beginning.

The Buckeyes suit up again in the Schott on Sunday at 2:30 p.m., when they play host to play Radford.

​- Jason Harris​

 

Holtmann Gains 4th Commit This Week
September 24, 2017

Coach Holtmann and the Ohio State men’s basketball program have had quite the week and it ended even higher as 3 star Small Forward Justin Ahrens from Versailles, Ohio announced his interest.

If the name sounds familiar to you it is because Ahrens had originally committed to Thad Matta and his staff. When the coaching changes occurred earlier this year, he put his commitment on hold. Fortunately, Ohio State’s interest in Ahrens never waned, even with new coach Chris Holtmann and his staff taking over. Ohio State still has one more spot available for the class of 2018.

​- Jason Harris​

 

Basketball Bucks Add a Third Commit for 2018
September 22, 2017

Coach Holtmann has started gaining some momentum on the recruiting trail as he and his staff gained their 3rd commitment in less than a week.  Luther Muhammad, a 6’4” 185 lb shooting guard from Jersey City, New Jersey has let it be known his intention to play for the Buckeyes next season. Muhammad, a 4 star prospect, is a consensus top 100 player in the country, ranked the number 71 overall player by 247Sports. He visited Ohio State the weekend of September 9 when the football team took on Oklahoma and was also considering West Virginia, St. Johns and Xavier. He will join Jaedon LeDee and Duane Washington as 2018 verbals, who committed earlier this week.

– Jason Harris​

 

Bucks Land Another 2018 Commit
September 20, 2017

Chris Holtmann and his staff have added their second commitment in as many days for the 2018 class as 3 star point guard Duane Washington from Chatsworth, CA pledged his allegiance to the Buckeyes. Washington held over 30 scholarship offers but chose Ohio State over the likes of UCLA and Michigan among others. Washington, originally of Grand Rapids, MI, is the son of former NBA player Duane Washington, Sr. and the nephew of former NBA star Derek Fisher. The 6’3” 180 lb Washington is ranked as the 8th best player in California and among the top 300 players in all of high school basketball. Look for Ohio State to add at least 2 more players and potentially 3 to add to next year’s class with plenty of high level prospects considering the Buckeyes as a finalist in their prospective college decisions.

– Jason Harris​

 

Holtmann Lands 2018 Commit
September 19, 2017

Jaedon LeDee, a 6’8”, 218 lb small forward and #59 in the ESPN top 100 from Kincaid School in Houston, Texas has verbally committed to coach Chris Holtmann and the Ohio State men’s basketball program today. LeDee took official visits to Oklahoma and Texas A&M and unofficials to Houston, Cal and UCLA before committing to the Buckeyes. This is a huge get for Holtmann and company after losing 3 commits after Thad Matta was let go and losing Torrence Watson, a recent commit, who changed his mind due to personal concerns. This is a big first step for the coaching staff as they attempt to make a splash in the 2018 recruiting class after pulling in the #1 class in the Big Ten this year.

– Jason Harris​

 

2017-18 Schedule Released
August 16, 2017

The 2017-18 OSU Basketball schedule was released today. The Buckeyes will play an exhibition game against the College of Wooster November 5th before the season-opener against Robert Morris on the 10th. Ohio State opens its Big Ten schedule at Wisconsin December 2nd and hosts Michigan December 4th before resuming conference play at Iowa January 4th. With the Big Ten Tournament moving to New York, the conference tournament will be played Feb. 28-March 4 at Madison Square Garden.

For the compete, schedule check out the OSU Basketball page.

-Gregg Watson​

 

Scarlet & Gray Win 81-56 to advance to TBT Final Four
July 23, 2017

Tell me you have all been following the TBT championship brackets!  You know, the summer tournament where the winner gets $2 million and the top 100 fans of the winning team takes home a share of the money. Still don’t have your interest peaked?  What if I told you that a team of former OSU players just made it to the Final Four!  David Lighty with 23 points and William Bufford with 21 points lead the team to an 81-56 win over a group of former Marquette players.

What is the TBT? TBT stands for The Basketball Tournament  which is a 5-on-5 single elimination tournament.  This year 64 teams entered the field of play. Team “Scarlet & Gray” includes former stars like, Jared Sullinger, Aaron Craft, Dallas Lauderdale, Evan Ravenel, Jon Diebler and the previously mentioned Lighty and Bufford.

Our Buckeyes will next play on August 1st against a team of former Syracuse Players for the right to play for the championship.

-Gregg Watson​