With Ohio State having finals this past week, the Buckeyes were off during the week and had just one game over the weekend. It was a reminder that athletes are actually students, too. With that said, with just one game, the scarlet and gray took care of business against a weaker opponent, taking down the Appalachian State Mountaineers, 80-67.
Much of the first half was filled with back-and-forth scoring from both sides, but Ohio State eventually took a healthy lead thanks to a pair of great defensive plays in the latter part of the half.
With just over five minutes remaining in the first half and the Buckeyes holding a 25-17 lead, Keita Bates-Diop showed how to lead Ohio State on both ends of the floor, blocking a shot and taking it coast-to-coast for a contested layup.
The second play came with just over a minute left in the half, when the senior tipped a pass, dove on the floor for the loose ball, and passed it to Andrew Dakich, who found Jae’Sean Tate after a nice spin move for a dunk. The Buckeyes closed the half on a 6-0 run to take a 40-27 lead into the locker room.
Tune into the second half on BTN.
— Ohio State on BTN (@OhioStateOnBTN) December 17, 2017
Head coach Chris Holtmann stated after the game that Bates-Diop’s hustle play sparked the team.
“I think it did. We weren’t moving the ball super well offensively. Our bodies weren’t that well either,” he said. “We have to work on that. But, that was a really big play. I think it resulted in JT’s dunk. Andrew Dakich made a really nice play and it all started with Keita being the first to the floor.”
Holtmann also stated that due to Ohio State’s lack of depth this season, the Buckeyes have to out-hustle their opponents, especially when in Big Ten play. They may not always have the better talent, but the head coach knows that his team will make all the 50-50 plays they can and do their best to out-hustle their opponents.
“It has to be what we are about. I think our guys recognize we don't have a huge margin for error. I think they recognize people appreciate seeing them play this way,” he said of his team’s hustle plays. “That is the expectation for us. We have to practice that way consistently. It builds muscle memory and creates good habits. You just go do it when you see a ball laying there.”
The strangest part of the game was when the fire alarms inside the Schottenstein Center began going off just a couple minutes into the second half. It forced all 12,616 fans in attendance evacuate the arena and teams into their locker rooms. At first, it was falsely reported that there was a suspicious package found, but it ended up being that a concession stand worker pulled the fire alarm after an exhaust fan failed to work.
There was a fire alarm set off in a concessions stand at Value City Arena. We are cleared to continue with our game vs. Appalachian State. OSU leads 48-33 with 17:47 left in the second half.
— Dan Wallenberg (@OSUADAthComm) December 17, 2017
Following the delay, Appalachian State quickly went on a 6-0 run to cut the lead to nine, the closest the the Mountaineers got to the Buckeyes the rest of the game. Ohio State went on a 9-0 run to take a 67-47 lead just over halfway through the second half to all but put the game away for good.
Similar to much of the season so far, senior Tate (19 points, four rebounds, two assists) and redshirt junior Bates-Diop (18 points, eight rebounds, four steals, three blocks) led the Buckeyes, less than 24 hours before each graduated and received their respective degrees from Ohio State Sunday afternoon.
Along with Tate and Bates-Diop, Kaleb Wesson (16 points, eight rebounds, one assist, two steals), and Kam Williams (11 points, one rebound, one assist, one steal) also notched double figures.
Ohio State’s defense played well, especially on the outside. The Mountaineers shot 47 percent from the floor and just 16 percent from beyond the arc. The Buckeyes also forced 18 turnovers as well. Although the scarlet and gray struggled trying to find their shot from long distance (shot just 21 percent from three-point range), they made up for it by knocking down 53 percent from the field.
Coming up this week:
Tuesday vs. The Citadel, 7 p.m. ET
Saturday vs. North Carolina in New Orleans, 1:30 p.m. ET