With Chris Holtmann at the helm, the Ohio State men’s basketball team has already looked much improved from the last few years. Led by familiar faces like Jae’Sean Tate and Keita Bates-Diop, as well as some fresh faces like freshmen Kaleb Wesson and Musa Jallow, the Buckeyes have started to look like a team that has hope of making the NCAA Tournament. At 9-3 on the year, the team is currently riding a four-game win streak. Lets take a look into how Ohio State has been able to get the job done of late.
One of the biggest letdowns in Big Ten basketball this season has been Wisconsin. After upsetting No. 1 overall seed Villanova in the NCAA Tournament a year ago, the Badgers found themselves just 3-4 coming into this matchup against Ohio State. On the same day Ohio State’s football team beat Wisconsin’s in the Big Ten Championship, the basketball Bucks defeated the Badgers by 25 points in Madison to open up Big Ten play.
The blowout win was a product of Ohio State’s phenomenal shooting from all parts of the floor. As a team, the Buckeyes shot 66 percent from the field and 53.8 percent from behind the arc. OSU’s top three scorers, Kaleb Wesson, Bates-Diop and Tate, combined for 52 points on 20-25 shooting, almost outscoring Wisconsin’s entire team by themselves. The Badgers, on the other hand, shot just 38.8 percent from the field, their leading scorer Ethan Happ finishing with only seven points.
In a much more closely contested game, the Buckeyes were able to take down the rival Wolverines in the Schottenstein Center in comeback fashion. Down by 20 just before halftime, Ohio State managed a 7-0 run before heading into the locker room. The Buckeyes then stormed out on a 19-3 run to begin the second half, getting themselves back into the lead after trailing by a ton. Ohio State hit 11 free throws in the last two minutes of the game to pull away and secure the victory.
The Buckeyes were again led by Bates-Diop, who finished the game with 18 points and nine rebounds, hitting two of three attempts from deep and making all six of his free throws. They also got a big lift off the bench from C.J. Jackson, the team’s second leading scorer in the game with 17 points to go along with six boards and four assists. Free throw shooting was an unusual strength for the Scarlet and Gray in this one, as they hit 22 of 29 as a team to start 2-0 in conference play.
William & Mary (97-62)
Leaving Big Ten play, the Buckeyes played their second straight home game as they took on the Tribe. This one was over almost before it started, as the talent differential between the two teams became very apparent. Ohio State scored a season-high 97 points, again a product of efficient shooting. The team finished the game hitting 64.8 percent from the field and 52.4 percent from behind the arc, hitting 11 threes in the game.
No surprises here. The Buckeyes were again led by their leading scorer Bates-Diop. This time, he dropped a career-high 27 points to go along with five rebounds and two assists. Four OSU players finished in double figures, including Kaleb Wesson. Wesson had his second-highest point total of the season with 17 on 7-10 shooting, grabbing seven boards and three steals.
Appalachian State (80-67)
In their most recent contest, Ohio State was again able to come away with a double-digit win, this time against the Mountaineers. The Buckeyes have really been protecting their home floor, as the team is now 7-1 in Columbus this season. OSU was able to come away with the win despite extremely poor shooting from deep, hitting just three shots from three-point land on 21.4 percent shooting.
While Bates-Diop had a near double-double night, finishing with 18 points and eight rebounds, the Buckeyes’ leading scorer was Tate. Tate finished with 19 points on 9-12 shooting to go along with his four rebounds and two assists. Ohio State really won this game on the defensive side of the floor, where they were extremely solid. The team tallied 11 steals and three blocks overall, all three blocks coming from Bates-Diop. They also limited mistakes on the offensive end, finishing the game with just 11 total turnovers.
Ohio State will look to make it five in a row when they take on The Citadel Bulldogs this Tuesday at 7 p.m. at home.