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Ohio State men’s basketball buries the Purdue Fort Wayne Mastodons, 107-61

Despite all of the departures from last year, the Buckeyes have opened up the season 2-0.

Ohio State Athletics

After Wednesday’s 64-56 victory over the Cincinnati Bearcats, the 120th Ohio State men’s basketball team returned to Columbus on Sunday to open up the home portion of their season against the Purdue Fort Wayne (formerly Indiana-Purdue Fort Wayne) Mastodons. After being up only seven (41-34) at the half, the Ohio State Buckeyes ran away from the ‘Dons after halftime to secure the impressive 107-61 victory.

In what was a close first half, the Buckeyes exploded after halftime, as the offense started to find a rhythm, and their defense began to clamp down. Senior C.J. Jackson led the Buckeyes with a new career-high, and three of OSU freshmen scored in double-figures in their first home game as Buckeyes. Oh, and don’t let me forget, Joey Lane turned in a five-point, two-rebound performance as well.

The Buckeyes opened the game by attacking the ‘Dons down low. On the first possession, Kaleb Wesson got the easy layup, and on the second trip, the big man felt the double-team and found Kyle Young underneath for the easy bunny. From there, Purdue Fort Wayne attempted to clamp down on the pair of sophomore forwards. Which is when the guards began to take over a bit.

With the Buckeyes up 11-10, Wake Forest graduate transfer Keyshawn Woods forced a turnover, and then in transition Jackson found Jaedon LeDee who was running the floor. The freshman — in his first collegiate action — was fouled in the act, and hit one of his free throws, accounting for his first point as a Buckeye.

Purdue Fort Wayne forward Dylan Carl got the Mastodons going offensively early hitting a pair of three-pointers. Along with a triple from guard Kason Harrell, the deep-ball was keeping the game close for the visitors. With 12:30 left in the half, three-time Summit League All-Conference guard John Konchar hit a three of his own to tie the game at 16. The ‘Dons were 4-for-5 from behind the arc at that point.

As for the home team, they were getting balanced contributions. By the under-12 media timeout, seven Buckeyes had scored, which is noteworthy, since Chris Holtmann only called upon eight guys to even play in the season-opener against UC. In addition to LeDee, fellow freshmen Luther Muhammad and Duane Washington Jr. were also instrumental in the first 10 minutes of the game, and the fourth member of the 2018 recruiting class Justin Ahrens also got into the action with about six minutes remaining in the contest. Like LeDee, this was Ahrens first action as a Buckeye.

Muhammad in particular was tasked with guarding Konchar who averaged 21 points last year. In the first 20 minutes, the Buckeye freshman held Konchar to nine points on 4-of-10 shooting from the field. Muhammad also chipped in offensively with five points of his own.

While there was a lot to be excited about in the early going, there were some moments where the Buckeyes’ youth and inexperience were evident, be it blown defensive coverages, or some open opportunities that weren’t converted. However, in the middle of the first half, OSU went on a 9-2 run following Konchar’s three that tied it up. Included in that run was a smooth scoop and score from Jackson, who led all scorers at halftime with 12.

However, from there, Ohio State got a little sloppy with the ball and shot selection, allowing Purdue Fort Wayne to cut the lead to three points, 29-26. At that point, Kaleb Wesson threw a forearm shiver in the lane, resulting in an offensive foul, and sending the younger Wesson to the bench for the remainder of the half with two personals. He would end the half with just two points and two boards. If Wesson is going to make the step from being a solid contributor to being a game-changer this year, he is going to have to find a way to limit this type of unnecessary foul in order for him to stay on the floor as much as possible.

As the first half wound down, Washington hit a pair of three-pointers in the last 90 seconds, to push the Buckeye advantage to nine.

Following the second triple, Andre Wesson drove the baseline and attempted to throw down a massive dunk. However, he wasn’t able to complete the slam and came crashing down to the hardwood. He had to be helped back to the locker room with less than half a minute to play before halftime. The elder Wesson did not rejoin the team after the intermission with a back strain, however, he did make it out to the bench about a minute into the half, and got back into the game at the 15:15 mark.

At the break, the Buckeyes led 41-34, and all nine players that saw the court for the Scarlet and Gray found their way into the score column. Though the Mastodons only lead OSU 20-18 on the boards following the first 20 minutes, they held a 7-1 offensive rebound edge, helping propel them to seven second-chance points. With Kaleb Wesson only on the floor for 10 of the first 20 minutes, Jackson actually led OSU in boards with five.

In the first few minutes of the second half, the Buckeyes forced the Mastodons into consecutive traveling violations, and used that to their advantage, getting the lead to double digits, 52-38, thanks to three-straight three-balls from Jackson.

The Buckeyes extended their lead to 57-41 thanks to a Muhammad corner-three and a Musa Jallow triple of his own. After the media timeout, Muhammad caused a turnover at the top of the key and raced out for the transition layup, which punctuated his impressive, all-around effort in the game against PFW. OSU took a 64-41 lead with 11:27 left after an easy Kaleb Wesson put back underneath.

As the game progressed, it seemed like Holtmann’s squad was starting to gel in the second half, extending the lead to more than 30 multiple times, before pushing it to 40+ with less than five minutes remaining in regulation. In the second half, the Buckeyes shot 64.3 percent from the floor.

While Jackson led all scorers with a new career-high of 25, the young players found ways to contribute; freshmen LeDee (13), Muhammad (12), and Washington (17) all scored in double-figures.

As Holtmann began to empty the bench, the Buckeyes continued to play with energy and precision as the Buckeyes broke the century mark, and a total of 12 players saw the floor for the home team.

The basketball Buckeyes will be back in action on Thursday, Nov. 15 in Omaha, Neb. against the Creighton Bluejays in the Gavitt Tip Off Games. The game will tip off at 7 p.m. ET and will air on FS1.