Following their blowout at the hands of Gonzaga in the quarterfinals early Friday morning, the Ohio State Buckeyes (5-1) got back in the win column with the first victory over a Power 5 opponent in the Chris Holtmann era, knocking off the Stanford Cardinal (3-4), 79-71.
Against Gonzaga, it took Jae’Sean Tate until the second half to get into the offensive flow. However, against the Cardinal, Tate got the scoring started for OSU a minute and a half in as he blew past his defender and threw down an impressive two-hand dunk. Both teams struggled to get their offenses going early, but OSU freshman Kaleb Wesson kicked the Buckeyes into gear.
Getting just the second start of his young career in place of the injured Micah Potter, Wesson followed up Tate’s jam with two buckets of his own, giving OSU the early 6-2 lead at the game’s first media timeout. Potter was able to play off of the bench in the game, spelling Kaleb Wesson after the break. The sophomore had a two points and two rebounds in just six minutes of action.
Stanford struggled mightily in the first six and a half minutes, going 0-6 after making the first basket of the game. They also turned the ball over four times and had a pair of offensive fouls to compound their poor shooting.
However, their tight zone defense kept the Buckeyes from building a sizable lead, and following a three from freshman Oscar Da Silva and a dunk from Reid Travis, the Cardinal took a 7-6 lead into the under-12 timeout.
After a Stanford three and a Tate layup, Kaleb Wesson was called for his second foul of the game and had to subbed out. The whistle was for the fifth offensive foul of in the early going of the game.
With the OSU big man out, Keita Bates-Diop hit his first basket of the game, a three from the top of the key. Even though the junior was the unquestioned on-court leader in the Buckeyes’ first four games, Bates-Diop was inconsistent against the Zags. While the triple was his first basket of the game, he did grab four early boards to make his presence felt, and his day only got better from there. The redshirt-junior finished the night with 18 points and 11 boards, one of two double-doubles for the Buckeyes.
For the majority of the first 10 minutes, Stanford maintained its lead, but the game remained close. Then, OSU junior guard C.J. Jackson stole a pass on the wing and raced to the other end and laid it in, cutting the lead to 19-18. Da Silva and Jackson exchanged threes, and Stanford senior Michael Humphrey hit a jumper in the lane and Isaac White hit a second-chance three to push the advantage to 27-21, the biggest lead of the game at that point.
Stanford extended its lead to 31-21 before the Buckeyes went on an 11-1 run to close the half. The streak included three more three-pointers from Bates-Diop, and a put-back from senior transfer Andrew Dakich. The teams went to the break tied at 32.
In the first 20 minutes, while the Buckeyes seemed to play with more sharpness than they did against Gonzaga, a definite lack of energy pervaded the majority of the first half, allowing the Cardinal to build their lead. However, over the last 2:33, OSU was able to clamp down on defense, and to move the ball on offense, setting up Bates-Diop with makable triples.
He led all scores at the intermission with 12, in addition to his team-best six boards. Da Silva was the high man for the Cardinal with eight points. Though Travis put up 23 against Florida the night before, he was held to just a single field goal in the first half by the Buckeyes.
The OSU comeback was fueled in large part by Stanford’s nine turnovers, which directly led to 12 points for the Buckeyes. The Cardinal held their biggest statistical advantage when it came to second chance points (10-2), which was emblematic of the difference in first half playing styles. With Kaleb Wesson out of the game, the Buckeyes played most of the first half without a true big man, relying on pull-up jumpers and guards isolating and driving to the rim alone.
On the other side of the floor, Stanford was often working the ball inside by design, allowing them to dominate underneath.
In the first possession of the second half, Jackson hit a three pointer to give the Buckeyes their first lead since early in the game, 35-34. Three minutes into the second half, Tate drove along the baseline, and spun into a left handed layup while getting fouled. With the free throw, OSU went up 42-36.
The energy that allowed the Buckeyes to close the lead at the end of the first half was carried over into the second 20 minutes, as OSU was near perfect in the 4:31 before the first timeout of the half. The team shot 6-9 (71.4%) from the field, including 1-2 from beyond the arc.
Ohio State continued to build their lead on three consecutive layups by freshman Musa Jallow, Jackson, and Bates-Diop. The latter gave the Buckeyes their largest lead of the game at 48-38, and forced Stanford head coach Jerod Haase to take a timeout.
Out of the timeout, the Cardinal came out fighting, cutting the lead to 50-44 in the next 90 seconds. Despite the rush, the Buckeyes held onto the advantage, 56-48, as they got to the under-eight timeout.
As the game progressed, it was the Buckeyes’ upperclassmen that led the way, as the game’s three top scorers were Jackson (15), Bates-Diop (14), and Tate (12) with 7:54 remaining.
However, Stanford kept clawing back, and eventually cut the lead to five, but with the OSU offense stagnant, Jackson hit an incredibly deep three to get the lead back to 61-53. The junior guard would end up leading all scorers with 23. He added in six rebounds and three assists as well.
With 3:16 left in regulation, Humphrey came a little too hard on a rebound attempt and picked up his fifth foul. The penalty put Kaleb Wesson on the free-throw line. The big man made one of two to get into double digits, putting the Buckeyes back up eight, 65-57. Less than a minute later, Travis barreled through Tate to earn his fifth foul of the game. Humphrey exited with nine points and nine boards, and Travis had 14 points and six rebounds.
The disqualifications kept coming as Kaleb Wesson was whistled for his fifth, nullifying a Bates-Diop second-chance bucket. The younger Wesson exited with 10 points and three boards. His older brother Andre added three points and a rebound in the game.
With just under a minute left, Stanford junior Robert Cartwright hit a pull-up three to cut the lead to 69-63. After a pair of Daejon Davis free throws, the Cardinal got the lead to just two possessions at 72-67 with 28 seconds remaining.
Thanks to two late, unnecessary fouls, Tate fouled out with just 14 seconds remaining, but Stanford couldn’t overcome the deficit. The Pickerington-native exited the game with 14 points and 10 rebounds.
Despite fouling out, Davis was the Cardinal’s high scorer with 15, while Da Silva also chipped in 14 as well.
With his dad calling the game for ESPN, Michigan-transfer Dakich earned a career high with six points to go along with four rebounds. Though he was largely overlooked during his time in Ann Arbor, Dakich has proven to be a steadying force in the back-court for Holtmann’s young team.
The Ohio State Buckeyes will wrap up the PK80 tournament as they take on Chris Holtmann’s old team, the Butler Bulldogs, on Sunday at 3:00 p.m. ET/12:00 p.m. PT.