Back on the court following their first loss of the season to Syracuse earlier this week, the No. 16 Ohio State Buckeyes (7-1, 1-0) put together an impressive, well-rounded win in their Big Ten Conference opener over the Minnesota Golden Gophers (6-2, 0-1) At home at the Value City Arena, the Buckeyes used a 21-5 run in the first half to knock off the Gophers 79-59.
Due to the separated shoulder suffered by freshman guard Luther Muhammad, Wake Forest graduate transfer Keyshawn Woods got the start in his stead. Muhammad was visible and animated on the Buckeye sideline yelling out instructions to his teammates, especially on the defensive end.
With Muhammad out of the OSU lineup indefinitely, a number of players stepped up to fill the void created by the absence of the scrappy freshman. Junior Andre Wesson set a career high, and sophomores Musa Jallow and Kyle Young were each a bucket shy in the victory.
Following a career high, 12-point performance in Wednesday’s loss to Syracuse, Young got the first two baskets for the Buckeyes. Following a steal by C.J. Jackson, Young got an uncontested layup underneath, and then was in the right place for a one-handed put-back to take an early 4-0 lead.
Despite that early advantage, points were hard to come by. The two teams combined to lose 10 of their first 13 shots and both of their cumulative three-point attempts before Andre Wesson hit a triple to put OSU up 8-5.
His younger brother Kaleb Wesson was already on the bench with two fouls. He picked up one on a moving screen at the top of the key, and the other on a rebound attempt at the 16:35 mark in the first half. He would not return to the floor until 7:45 remaining in the half.
The Buckeyes got a number of extra opportunities on one unusually long possession. On the trip, the Gophers committed a pair of fouls (including a Flagrant 1 hook and hold), OSU pulled in multiple offensive rebounds, and Minnesota couldn’t handle the ball more than once. Thanks to the flagrant, Jallow hit a pair of free throws to take the lead to 10-5 Buckeyes.
In total, OSU took six shots on that one particular offensive trip. Andre Wesson capped it off with an old-fashioned hoop and the harm to complete the incredibly untraditional five-point play.
After Minnesota’s Amir Coffey hit a pair of free throws, the Bucks extended their run to 14-2 after the squads had been tied at 5. On the next three Minnesota possessions, they committed two offensive fouls, and through the ball away, leading to another 7-straight points.
With Muhammad on the bench, that opened up some playing time for Jallow who took full advantage. In the 18-2 run, the 18-year-old sophomore had 9 points in just six minutes of action.
After the Buckeyes took a 17-point lead 36-19, the Gophers went on a run of their own, cutting the lead to just eight, before an Andre Wesson three-point play took the home team’s lead to 39-28 at halftime.
As was evident on that extended possession in the middle of the first half, the Buckeyes amassed their lead thanks to dominating the glass. At intermission, Ohio State had a 22-14 advantage on the boards, which led to a 10-6 advantage in second-chance points.
That margin was larger before the Gophers’ late run. In the process, their shooting improved as well. However, at the break the Buckeyes still held a 46.7 percent to 37 percent advantage from the floor. Neither team was lighting it up from deep, but OSU hit two of their seven attempts, while Minnesota missed all seven of theirs.
In the first 20 minutes, both Jallow and Andre Wesson had 11 points for the Buckeyes, while Coffey (12) and Dupree McBrayer (8) combined for 20 of Minnesota’s 28 points.
In the first half, Minnesota senior Jordan Murphy became just the 14th player in B1G men’s basketball history to collect 1,000 rebounds. Congratulations, Jordan.
Back on the floor in the second half, Minnesota came out aggressive, but so did Kaleb Wesson. On two consecutive possessions, he scored three straight buckets, and forced two fouls on Daniel Oturu. Kaleb accounted for OSU’s first seven points of the half, before Young hit a pair of free throws, following a great inside bounce pass from Kaleb.
The home team continued to extend their lead as the second half progressed, thanks in part to a more than six-minute streak in which the Gophers did not convert on a single field goal. During that time, the Buckeyes were able to extend their lead to 63-40, after C.J. Jackson hit from downtown on consecutive possessions.
The Wesson brothers combined for 31 points, and Young had an incredibly impressive, all-around game. He had a great pass into the lane for one of his three assists on the day to go along with 10 points and 8 rebounds.
Andre finished with 16 points, 4 rebounds, and a pair of assists. Kaleb had 15 points and 6 boards, despite his early foul trouble. Despite having 11 points in the first half, Jallow didn’t attempt a field goal in the second half, but also had 4 rebounds before fouling out.
The Gophers didn’t do themselves many favors as they ended the night 0-for-13 from beyond the arc.
The Buckeyes will be back in action when they take on the Illinois Fighting Illini at Chicago’s United Center on Wednesday, Dec. 5. That game will be broadcast on the Big Ten Network, beginning at 7 p.m. ET.