The first month of the 2019-20 men’s basketball season has been a bit of a whirlwind for Chris Holtmann’s No. 10 Ohio State Buckeyes (7-0). Thanks to impressive early wins over Cincinnati and Villanova, the Bucks have found themselves ranked in the top 10 as November comes to an end.
OSU closed out the month with a decisive 90-57 victory over the visiting Morgan State Bears (3-6) on Friday night at the Schottenstein Center. Despite one of the dominant stories of the young season being about the talent-infusion brought on by Holtmann’s Big Ten-best recruiting class, the head coach rolled out a starting five that included three juniors (CJ Walker, Kaleb Wesson, Kyle Young), and two sophomores (Luther Muhammad and Duane Washington Jr.)
Senior Andre Wesson had originally been slated to start, but was scratched just before tip. The elder Wesson would enter the game following the first media time out, and he would have himself a game. Andre Wesson turned in 19 points and 7 rebounds on the evening.
After the Bears got off to a 4-0 start, Kaleb Wesson got the Buckeyes their first lead of the game with a triple and an old-fashioned post bucket on back-to-back possessions. The potential All-American was the focus of the OSU offense early, taking four of the team’s first nine shots from the field.
It's pretty. It's so pretty. pic.twitter.com/3HBQtzRKZr— Land-Grant Holy Land (@Landgrant33) November 30, 2019
The younger Wesson’s size and strength was just too much for Morgan State to deal with throughout the game on both sides of the floor. He had six points and six rebounds in the first seven minutes of the game.
this video didn't load earlier, but if you were worried about Kaleb losing his power when he lost all of that weight... don't worry. pic.twitter.com/HpH1Zmv3X1— Land-Grant Holy Land (@Landgrant33) November 30, 2019
The Buckeyes looked to run at every possible opportunity in the first half as they went on a 17-2 run (encapsulating a 12-0 stretch) early on. The Buckeyes had 14 points off of turnovers and 14 points on the fast break in the first half of the game (obviously some of those points will be redundant).
The Buckeyes are looking to run early and often tonight. pic.twitter.com/ksMKZThSY1— Land-Grant Holy Land (@Landgrant33) November 30, 2019
While Kaleb Wesson was dominate in the first seven minutes, his older brother took a turn leading the team from there. Andrew Wesson ran off a quick 11 points thanks to a pair of three-pointers and five free throws. The brothers’ combined 20 points in the first half were more than Morgan State had in the first 20 minutes.
In the first half, the home team hit 48.3 percent (14-29) of its shots to open up a 45-18 lead. However, the trend of the early season continued as the Bucks held the Bears to a bare minimum in terms of field goals. In the first month of the season, OSU didn’t allow an opponent to connect on more than 20 field goals in a game. On Friday, they held Morgan State to just seven buckets in the first half.
The only offensive success that Morgan State had in the game was when they ran backdoor cuts towards the basket. Fortunately for OSU, it didn’t usually matter, but it certainly will be something to note for future contests.
those backdoor cuts are getting through against the Buckeyes, but fortunately they haven't hurt them much yet. pic.twitter.com/RACEqgmiPl— Land-Grant Holy Land (@Landgrant33) November 30, 2019
Andre Wesson led all scorers in the first half, while Kaleb had nine, and Walker went for eight. For the Bears, sophomore guard Malik Miller led the way with six. The OSU bench went for 21 in the first half as well.
As they did in the latter stages of the first half, the Bears opened the second 20 minutes in a press, but it generally did little to stop the Buckeyes, and more often than not just opened up passing lanes for easy buckets.
I've got the alley, you've got the oop... if by "I" I mean Duane Washington and by "you" I mean Kyle Young. pic.twitter.com/Gm06VzWojI— Land-Grant Holy Land (@Landgrant33) November 30, 2019
Despite the alley-oop from Walker to Young, (yes, it was Walker, despite what the tweet says) Morgan State was able to put up some points in the opening minutes of the half. They connected on five of their first seven attempts from the floor. The Buckeyes continued their strong shooting performance as well, connecting on five of their first eight.
After the Bears hit three consecutive baskets, the Buckeyes were able to stunt their momentum after Kaleb Wesson hit on a post move bucket on offense, then drew an offensive foul on the defensive end by junior forward Jamar Brown. In frustration after he was whistled for the charge, Brown tossed the ball back in the general direction of Kaleb who had fallen to the floor.
While it didn’t look especially egregious, Brown picked up a technical foul with Wesson hitting both free throws.
Kaleb drew a charge and a technical foul on the last defensive possession. I think that the slimmed down Wesson is going to be very annoying to a lot of post players this season. pic.twitter.com/pOUZNp30ps— Land-Grant Holy Land (@Landgrant33) November 30, 2019
Both squads continued to make baskets as the game progressed, as the game got under 8:00 to go, they each were shooting above 52 percent in the second half. Three Buckeyes had already gotten into double figures, both Wessons and Walker. Morgan State’s senior guard Stanley Davis Jr. had exploded for nine after halftime to give him 13 overall.
As the game progressed, Holtmann got some of the younger players into the action. Twelve players scored for Ohio State on the night, and they were able to maintain the focus and intensity on both ends of the floor.
As the game was winding down, Ibrahima Diallo, Danny Hummer, and Harrison Hookfin saw action, but Washington’s day ended after he was assessed a “Class B” technical foul for a flop on a play that he had position on and there was clear contact. Alonzo Gaffney was also given a “Class B” technical for slapping the backboard following a dunk attempt on which he was fouled.
Duane Washington picked up a "Class B" technical foul for a flop (after Andre had been warned earlier in the game).— Land-Grant Holy Land (@Landgrant33) November 30, 2019
I'm all for calling flopping, but when you have established defensive position, and a guy makes contact and lands on you... pic.twitter.com/LNspWNCfcX
The No. 10 Buckeyes will be back on the court on Wednesday, Dec. 4 in Chapel Hill, N.C. to take on the No. 6 North Carolina Tar Heels. The teams will square off in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge, and the game will air on ESPN at 9:30 p.m. ET.