The No. 23 Ohio State Buckeyes (6-0) fully embraced the throwback nature of Friday night’s game at St. John Arena. The team was decked out in 70s and 80s era retro jerseys, they played music of the same era, and the Jumbotron graphics were 8-bit classics. However the boldest choice was head coach Chris Holtmann looking resplendent in a mauve pink jacket. However, when it came to business, the Buckeyes continued the hot start to their season by knocking off the Cleveland State Vikings (2-4), 89-62.
Chris Holtmann rocking the throwback jacket: pic.twitter.com/j4oDOZULfV— Dan Hope (@Dan_Hope) November 24, 2018
As has been the case in a lot of OSU’s early season, it took a while for the young squad to get in sink, as the Vikes kept things within arms length throughout the first half. However, after the intermission, the Buckeyes raced away from their in-state foe for another dominant win on the season.
After four of the team’s regular five starters were held out of the opening of Tuesday’s game against Samford for being late to game day preparations, the regular starters were on the floor to open this one.
That continuity helped early as Kaleb Wesson found a streaking Kyle Young with a sneaky bounce pass for the layup to get the scoring underway. However, the St. John rims were a bit rusty, especially for the home team, as the Buckeyes and Vikings missed the first nine non-layups. However, after CSU’s Tyree Appleby hit a jumper to get the visitors on the board, C.J. Jackson — who has been on a bit of a cold streak as of late — hit a straight away three. The guard would hit his first triple of the game later in the half, which was the 100th of his Ohio State career.
Then, on the next possession, Andre Wesson found his brother in the lane for the hoop and the harm; and the younger Wesson completed the old fashioned three-point play. Next trip down, it was Andre’s turn with a jumper to put the Buckeyes up 12-4 heading into the first media timeout.
The Vikings got their offense going after the timeout, but the OSU defense clamped down forcing a jump ball and a shot clock violation on the same possession. On the two subsequent possession, Young hit a jumper and had a tip back to put the home team up 18-9 as the teams went to the second media timeout of the game.
Kaleb Wesson stayed on the bench after the break, so two newcomers to OSU picked up the slack as Jaedon Ledee and Keyshawn Woods had back-to-back baskets for the Bucks. However, a Kasheem Thomas three-pointer sandwiched between two Algevon Eichelberger layups to get the score to a 20-17 advantage for OSU. Holtmann called timeout to slow the Vikings’ 7-0 rush, and get Kaleb Wesson back into the game.
Unsurprisingly, on the first possession after the TO Buckeye freshman Justin Ahrens found the younger Wesson underneath for a quick bucket. After another timeout, Wesson hit a turnaround, fadeaway jumper to put the home team up 26-17.
From there, both teams continued to struggle, as the Buckeyes couldn’t connect on multiple open jumpers. In addition, a number of players from both teams seemed to have a rough time keeping their footing on the St. John Arena hardwood.
Over the last 4:30 of the first half, CSU outscored the Buckeyes 10-5, so heading into the intermission, the Buckeye lead sat at 38-29. At the break, Andre Wesson led all scorers with 10, while little brother Kaleb was one behind with 9. Six other Buckeyes got into the scoring column as well.
For the Vikes, three players (Appleby, Eichelberger, Stefan Kenic) had 7 points. Cleveland State held a 23-18 advantage on the glass, but they’d also turned it over nine times to OSU’s four, which certainly didn’t help matters for the visitors.
In the first few minutes of the second half, the Buckeyes went on a 8-0 run to increase the lead to 18. In the process Eichelberger picked up his third personal foul, sending him to the bench with 7 points and 9 rebounds.
With 14:06 left in the second half, a pair of Andre Wesson free throws put OSU up by 20 for the first time; they didn’t look back from there. Following the hot start, Jackson distanced himself from his rough shooting in recent games. However, he wasn’t just doing it with the jumper, but with the pass as well. Jackson finished the game with 17 points, 4 boards, and a pair of assists.
Despite the ever-increasing lead, the Buckeyes continued to apply pressure, and about halfway through the second period, Kaleb Wesson was assessed a flagrant 1 foul. The replay clearly showed that while contact was clearly made with the body, he distinctly made clear contact with the ball, knocking it out of bounds. The broadcast argued that Wesson was being penalized for his size, but the refs determined that player safety was tantamount.
However, the foul didn’t do much to disrupt the flow of Ohio State’s offense, as Kaleb’s big brother had his back hitting a three-pointer to push the Buckeye lead to 30, 74-44. The Wesson brothers were a dominant pair for OSU on Friday night. Kaleb finished with a career-high 19 points, while Andre finished with 11.
Over the last 5:30 remaining, Holtmann started subbing out the starters, getting as many guys as possible the experience of playing in St. John Arena. The highlight of the last few minutes of the game was a three-pointer from everybody’s favorite Buckeye, senior Joey Lane. The former walk-on also picked up an assist, finding freshman Ahrens for another three-pointer.
Holtmann was able to get 12 players in the game, and 11 of them scored. In addition to the Wesson brothers and Jackson, freshmen Luther Muhammad and Kyle Young had 10 and 8 respectively. As a team, OSU shot 53.1 percent (34-63), including a below average 7-for-19 (36.8%) from behind the arc.
However, their shooting really was the difference, as CSU only connected on 35 percent (21-60) of their attempts, and was even worse from downtown, going 6-of-21 for 28.6 percent. Kenic led the Vikings in the scoring column with 13, while Seth Millner also contributed 10.
The No. 23 Buckeyes will be back in action on Wednesday, Nov. 29 at 7 p.m. ET against the Syracuse Orange. The game will be broadcast on Fox Sports 1 from the Value City Arena.