While the football team has been tough to watch at times this season, the Ohio State men’s basketball team has been nothing but a joy through the first four games of the 2018-19 season. The Buckeyes took care of business yet again on Sunday afternoon, beating up on the South Carolina State Bulldogs, 89-61.
Coming off of their second road win against a quality opponent on Thursday — a 69-60 gritty performance against Creighton — the young Bucks returned home and continued their impressive start under second-year head coach Chris Holtmann, beating the teams that they should beat — and by a large margin.
Ohio State was led by the Wesson brothers, who had a monster game all around. Kaleb Wesson finished with 18 points and five rebounds in 21 minutes, hitting 7-of-11 from the charity stripe. Andre Wesson added 11 points of his own while pulling in six boards. The two were a combined 8-of-12 from the field.
Most impressively for this Buckeye team has been the play of the freshmen, who have come in to replace almost all of the production from last year’s team in the early going. Luther Muhammad put his stamp on the game with 12 points and impressive defense, while Duane Washington Jr. added 14 points of his own.
Despite the lopsided scoreboard, the Bulldogs got some solid production out of Damani Applewhite, who led the team with 15 points and six rebounds on 6-of-10 shooting from the field.
Ohio State took control right out of the gate, with Kaleb Wesson knocking down two free throws in the first 15 seconds to open up the scoring. After a three-pointer from Wesson on the following possession, OSU held an early 5-0 lead.
After Armani Hill got the Bulldogs on the board with a layup, C.J. Jackson nailed a three at the other end, but back-to-back jumpers by SC State cut the Bucks lead to 8-6 at the first media timeout.
From there, Ohio State really started to get it going, with Kaleb Wesson putting on a clinic. After a made jumper and two more free throws from the sophomore big man, freshman Luther Muhammad drilled a pull-up jumper. Wesson, feeling it, drilled a three-pointer on the next possession to give OSU a 17-8 lead with a little over 12 minutes remaining in the first period.
Freshman Duane Washington Jr. continued his impressive three-point shooting, knocking down his first shot from deep, right out of the media timeout. After a layup through contact from Washington and free throws from Jaedon LeDee, the Bucks found themselves up 24-8 as their defense forced the Bulldogs to just 4-of-16 shooting from the field early on.
SC State was able to get some points on the board, as free throws from Allen Hatchett and another jumper from Hill sandwiched an Andre Wesson jumper. The Buckeyes got the crowd back into it right away though, as back-to-back dunks from Andre Wesson and Musa Jallow put OSU up 30-12 with 7:32 remaining in the half.
After a 1-of-9 stretch for the Bulldogs, they finally connected on a put-back layup from Damani Applewhite. Muhammad answered right away with a three-pointer, but Applewhite would hit another jumper at the other end to make it 34-16.
The game would slow down toward the end of the period as the two teams traded trips to the free throw line. The Bulldogs looked to get things started as Hill drilled a three-pointer, but with the Buckeyes in the bonus, Andre Wesson hit a pair at the line and his younger brother splashed his third three-pointer of the game as Ohio State took a 43-21 lead into the half, thanks to Kyle Young emphatically sending the game to the break with thunder on an alley-oop slam.
The first half was a battle of big men, as Kaleb Wesson led OSU with 17 and Applewhite paced the Bulldogs with 10. The Buckeyes shot 54.2 percent in the first period — closing out the half on a 7-0 run — while their defense held SC State to just 27.6 percent. As a team, OSU went 6-of-10 from three-point land in the period, while going 11-of-15 at the free throw line.
Ohio State picked things up right where they left off in the second half, as Muhammad put up the first two points when the action resumed. Muhammad banged home another jumper a few minutes later, as the freshman put the Bucks up 50-27.
After the break, the Bulldogs still had no answer for Kaleb Wesson, who continued to get back to the line all afternoon. SC State fouled Wesson to put Ohio State in the bonus with over 13 minutes remaining, and Kaleb would check out for the remainder of the contest in a blowout, one point shy of tying his career-high. At the 10:31 media timeout, OSU led 62-38.
Ohio State’s bench would play for the rest of the second period, paving the way for guys like Musa Jallow and Jaedon LeDee who combined for 18 points in the contest. The Buckeyes got 37 points from the reserves, and would go on to win 89-61.
The Buckeye defense was stifling once again, holding their fourth-straight opponent to under 70 points. Despite SC State being a pretty good rebounding team, OSU beat the Bulldogs 40-27 on the glass. They also did a much better job staying out of foul trouble, as only one player finished with more than two fouls (LeDee with four).
Next up on the slate, the Buckeyes (4-0) will take on another Bulldogs team, this time that of Samford (4-0), on Tuesday, Nov. 20 at 7:00 p.m. ET. Ohio State’s second straight home game will be broadcast on BTN Plus.