The Ohio State Buckeyes have taken care of business against much of their weaker non-conference opponents so far this season. While that continued early in the week, the scarlet and gray lost to one of the best teams in the country to finish the week. They beat The Citadel on Tuesday, 94-65, and then lost to North Carolina on Saturday, 86-72.
Buckeyes make it look easy in 94-65 win over The Citadel
For much of their non-conference schedule, Ohio State has taken on teams that they could presumably get easy wins against. That continued Tuesday night, when the Buckeyes took care of The Citadel, 94-65, in a game against a much weaker mid-major opponent.
In a game that the Bucks never trailed, they scored early and often in the easy win to start the week. The scarlet and gray got off to an early 12-4 lead less than four minutes into the game and held a 22-15 lead before going on a 15-0 run to all but put the game away in the first half. During the run, Ohio State forward Jae’Sean Tate had yet another highlight-reel dunk that got everyone in attendance to their feet.
— Ohio State Hoops (@OhioStateHoops) December 20, 2017
After leading by as many as 22 points in the first half, the Buckeyes held a 44-23 halftime lead against the Bulldogs. While giving the entire bench playing time in the second half, Ohio State still outscored The Citadel, 50-42, in the final 20 minutes to bring home the easy win.
Overall, 11 Buckeyes scored, including four in double-digits: Keita Bates-Diop (17 points, four rebounds, four assists, two steals, one block), Kam Williams (17 points, two rebounds, one assist, one steal), C.J. Jackson (13 points, two rebounds, seven assists, one steal), and Andrew Dakich (10 points, four rebounds, five assists, one block). They not only scored a lot of points, but the scarlet and gray also had a season-high 27 assists.
Williams made sure to mention that ball movement and assists are important for this year’s Buckeyes, especially when they take on opponents who are more talented than Ohio State is this season.
“We just want to give our team the best shot. If that means passing up good ones to get great ones, then that is just what we need to do,” Williams said of the team’s 27 assists. “We thrive better when we space the floor and when the ball is moving because we know from experience that when it sticks our percentages aren’t as good. So, we’re going to play to our strengths to be successful.”
Due to an ankle injury, big man Micah Potter received significant playing time for the first time since November 19. He recorded four points, eight rebounds, two assists, and three steals in 19 minutes. Head coach Chris Holtmann commented on his center’s playing time following the game.
“He’s a little rusty, I think that’s obvious, but that is to be expected. Tonight was more realistic of how I wanted to play him. He needed to play tonight, but he has got to shake off some rust and get back into a rhythm,” he said of Potter. “It might take a few weeks. Injuries are tough, we understand in sport that it’s no one’s fault…it’s not his fault that he got injured, but he does need to earn his minutes back. To do that he needs to come in and impact
Ohio State shot 50 percent from the field and 37 percent from long distance while holding the Bulldogs to shoot just 32 percent from the floor and 30 percent from beyond the arc.
Ohio State just didn’t have enough in the second half, lose to Tar Heels, 86-72
Just two days before Christmas, the Buckeyes had a chance to make a statement on national television. Taking on North Carolina in New Orleans, the Tar Heels were also looking to make a statement after being upset at home by Wofford earlier in the week. While Ohio State was able to stay with North Carolina for some of the game, they just didn’t have the depth to compete with one of the best teams in the country for an entire 40 minutes. Their five-game winning streak came to an end in Nola following their 86-72 loss to North Carolina.
The scarlet and gray held their own early in. With just under six minutes left in the first half, the score was tied, 23-23. The Tar Heels then went on an 18-4 run to not only take a 14-point lead into halftime, but to seemingly put the game away with 20 minutes remaining, too. It was their largest halftime deficit of the season.
They eventually cut the lead to 78-69 with just over a minute remaining, but it was too little, too late for the Buckeyes, after keeping pace with North Carolina in the second half. A positive is that Ohio State and the Tar Heels both scored 45 points in the final 20 minutes.
Like he has been for much of the early part of the season, Bates-Diop was Ohio State’s best player, finishing with 26 points, five rebounds, one steal, and one block. Jackson (19 points, four rebounds, two assists, two steals) and Kaleb Wesson (12 points, three rebounds, one assist, one steal) also notched double figures.
North Carolina’s offense was quite good in New Orleans, shooting 46 percent from the floor and 52 from beyond the arc. Meanwhile, the Buckeyes shot just 44 percent from the field and 31 percent from three-point range.
Coming up this week:
Saturday vs. Miami (Ohio), 12 p.m. ET