It was the tale of two halves for the Ohio State Buckeyes. In the first half, they allowed Youngstown State to pace out to a double-digit lead. By halftime, the visiting Ohio squad was leading inside Value City Arena. In the second half, though, OSU turned it on—thanks to a big effort from Kaleb Wesson. Between Wesson and exceptional second half shooting from the field for the scarlet and gray, they pulled away from the Penguins, winning 75-56.
Wesson had five points in the first half, but sat on the bench for stretches of time with two fouls. In the second half, he turned it on, going 8-of-8 from the field en route to a 26-point half. The 31-point outing was a career-high for Wesson.
Two other Buckeyes also tallied double-digit performances. Both Luther Muhammad and C.J. Jackson scored 11 points against the Penguins. For Muhammad, all but one of his points came in the second half.
Ohio State now improves to 10-1 on the season, while YSU falls to 4-9.
Out of the gate, both teams struggled with possession. Turnovers were committed by either sides in their first trip with the ball. On top of that, both teams struggled shooting in the early going, too.
Youngstown State would finally find the basket first, courtesy of a jumper from Darius Quisenberry. After a Kaleb Wesson turnover, the Penguins were able to get another basket to drop for an early 4-0 lead. Naz Bohannon followed up that basket with a three-ball, pacing the visitors to a 7-0 lead at the first media timeout.
Ohio State would get their first score of the night off the hands of Kaleb Wesson, after he pulled down an offensive rebound. However, the Penguins were keeping a hot hand; Jelani Simmons popped a three-pointer to push their lead out to 14-2.
The hot steak from the away squad cooled off, and was paired with an OSU run of their own. A Keyshawn Woods to Duane Washington Jr. alley-oop connected, and the Wesson brothers getting separate layups sparked a 6-0 run. By the under-12 timeout, the Buckeyes had eight points, but trailed by eight.
The first 10 minutes of action was rough for the scarlet and gray. They opened 4-of-15 from the field, and missed all six three-point attempts. YSU, on the other hand, was 7-of-14 from the floor, and 2-of-5 from downtown.
Another slump for Youngstown State gave the Buckeyes some life. Woods hit a pair of free throws and a layup to cut the deficit to three, 16-13. This scoring drought for the Penguins would end shortly thereafter, thanks to a Quisenberry offensive rebound and score. At the under-8 media timeout, YSU still held a lead—albeit a small one—at 18-13. Quisenberry was leading the scoring efforts with eight points; on the Bucks’ side, Kaleb Wesson was leading in points (5) and rebounds (4).
Off the media timeout, Kyle Young was fouled going toward the basket by Garrett Covington. Young stayed down on the floor for a brief moment, before getting back up for his free throws. He would split the two from the charity stripe, bringing the Buckeyes’ deficit to just four.
Struggles from the floor reemerged, as OSU went a stretch were they were 1-of-8 from the floor; YSU was going 1-of-10 from the field, and went over three minutes without a point.
After Luther Muhammad split a pair of freebies, YSU broke up the tough streak from the field—burying a three. Down 21-15 with 4:10 left before intermission, the scarlet and gray were an abysmal 0-for-9 from three-range. At the under-4 media timeout, the Buckeyes went over 5:30 without making a shot. Yet, somehow, they were only down six. Kaleb Wesson was off the floor with two fouls, and six different players missed three-point shots.
Following the timeout, C.J. Jackson connected on two free throws. Both teams would trade layups, finally giving the audience at Value City Arena some scoring action from the field. Ohio State would go nearly three minutes before their next point, but it finally came—thanks to Jackson. Jackson regained possession of a loose ball (and near turnover) and cranked up a three. That shot fell, breaking a 10-shot slump from beyond the arc.
At halftime, YSU still led, but it was only by a 25-22 margin.
The Ohio State team that came out in the second half was a completely different squad. At one point, the Buckeyes went on a 7-of-8 streak from the field, but most importantly, got some great work from Kaleb Wesson. In the first half, he was held to just five point; in the second half, he scored 17 points going into the under-8 media timeout. The Wesson brother had to leave the game for a brief time, needing stitches to his lip/mouth area after getting hit going up for a basket.
Youngstown State was all out of sorts, and found themselves down 58-43 with 7:13 left in regulation. After a hot first-half from the floor, they were on the struggle bus against a rejuvenated OSU squad. The Penguins were shooting 5-of-14 in the second half, with a 4-of-6 mark from three distance. The deep ball couldn’t save them, as the Buckeyes kept the pressure on.
In the waning minutes, YSU went on a near three-minute stretch without a point, while OSU rallied off a 7-0 run to end the game. The Buckeyes outscored the Penguins 53-31 in the second half, erasing the first half memories of sloppy shooting.
Up next for Ohio State will be UCLA in the CBS Sports Classic on Saturday, Dec. 22. Tip-off is scheduled for 3 p.m. at the United Center in Chicago. This game is the first part of a double-header for the CBS Sports Classic. After Buckeye-Bruins is completed, Kentucky faces North Carolina on the same hardwood; tip-off for that game is penciled for 5:15 p.m. ET.