The Chris Holtmann era is off to a 1-0 start after the Ohio State Buckeyes dominated the Robert Morris Colonials, 95-64, inside Value City Arena in Columbus, Ohio.
It was a pretty good Friday night, as four Buckeyes crossed double-digit scoring lines: Keita Bates-Diop, Kam Williams, Musa Jallow and Kaleb Wesson. Bates-Diop led all Buckeyes, putting up 19 points. Williams was right behind him with 16 points, while Wesson (13 points) and Jallow (11 points) followed.
For the game, the Scarlet and Gray dominated the boards, out rebounding the Colonials, 51-23. Of those 51 Buckeye rebounds, Bates-Diop collected 11 of them—completing a double-double on opening night.
Right after the tipoff, there was some foreshadowing that Robert Morris was bound to have a not-so-good first half of their first game of the regular season. Guard Matty McConnell had his jumper blocked by C.J. Jackson, and the Colonials would then proceed to miss their next two shots (another jumper and a layup). Jackson, about a minute later, would get the first bucket of the season for OSU.
From that point on, the Buckeyes made it known that they were a team on a mission for a victory—and they did just that.
Ohio State shot 61 percent from the field in the first half, while Robert Morris shot just 27 percent from the field. The Buckeyes did a little bit of everything in the first 20 minutes: they hit threes, they made blocks, they rebounded and Jackson and Musa Jallow connected on an alley-oop.
While the Buckeyes were seemingly scoring at will, the Colonials struggled to just put points up on the scoreboard. There was a five-minute stretch where the visitors went on a scoring drought; coupled with the Buckeyes having an 11-0 run around the same time frame, things were unraveling quickly before halftime. The cherry on top of the rough half for Robert Morris came when forward Koby Thomas unleashed a three-pointer that appeared to miss just about everything, before landing in the hands of a Buckeye. Robert Morris may of had their own problems finding the basket, but Ohio State was making life tough for them, too. Jackson started off the Buckeyes’ blocking scheme in the opening 25 seconds, and by the end of the half, a total of five blocks were tallied for OSU.
Sloppiness was an issue for both sides. Both teams committed 10 turnovers in the first half, but the Buckeyes converted 16 points off RMU miscues, while the Colonials only cashed in 7 points on the Buckeyes’ mistakes.
Keita Bates-Diop led all Buckeyes in the first half with 13 points. It didn’t take too long in the second half for him to get back to his scoring ways, as Bates-Diop hit a layup right after Micah Potter dunked home two points. Dunking was a common occurrence with Potter, as just a few minutes later, he jammed another down the basket to put the Buckeyes up 56-31.
RMU was able to bury some three-pointers before the first media timeout in the second half—the Colonials went 2-of-3 from downtown. However, they couldn’t cut into Ohio State’s lead. The Buckeyes fought for second chance opportunities, and wound up scoring. Additionally, OSU would get some momentum going in the transition game, and were just too much to handle.
But, the Colonials did unveil a weakness of this season’s Buckeye basketball team: perimeter defense. Just under the 13-minute mark in the second half, RMU was shooting 8-of-16 from beyond the arc. Ohio State wasn’t shooting nearly as good from downtown, as they held a 29 percent (4-of-14) success rate with just under 11 minutes left in regulation. In fact, the Buckeyes missed their first five three-pointers to begin the second half.
Outside of perimeter defense and free throw shooting, the Buckeyes were rolling. Bates-Diop was the defacto leader on the scoring and rebounding front. Kaleb Wesson scored in double figures, and Jackson led the team in assists with six. Between that trio—and some help from Jackson—the Buckeyes were able to breakup a two-minute scoring drought midway through the second half.
The punctuation mark to the Buckeyes’ victory came at the nine-minute mark, where a Colonial turnover was converted into an open slam dunk for Jallow. At that point, the Buckeyes pushed their lead to 73-43, and ensured that the 11,128 in attendance witnessed a Scarlet and Gray victory to begin the Holtmann Era.
Ohio State looks to go 2-0 on the season on Sunday, as they host Radford at 2:30 p.m. ET. Robert Morris travels to Grand Canyon for their next game on Nov. 15.