To say that this past week was a good one for the Ohio State Buckeyes men’s basketball team would be quite an understatement. In fact, you couldn’t have asked for a much better week, especially this early in the season.
Four days after stadium O-H-I-O broke out (once again) throughout the Big House in Ann Arbor, it did again in the Dean Dome in Chapel Hill last Wednesday night. They both occurred because the Ohio State Buckeyes dominated their opposition. And with that, it made quite a statement: The basketball Buckeyes are the real deal. Wednesday night’s dominant win over North Carolina proved just. It’s almost like the men’s basketball team is trying their best to replicate the football team, which is making it look quite easy no matter who they are up against for the majority of the season to date. Then, less than 72 hours later, the Buckeyes took care of business against a solid Penn State team in Columbus, 106-71, in what could have been a letdown game against a good Nittany Lions squad.
The Buckeyes entered the top-10 showdown against the Tar Heels as the No 6-ranked team in the country; North Carolina was No. 7 (and favored by three points). That, along with the fact that it was Bucks’ first road game of the year and no one really knew what to expect. You would have never guessed that if you watched the game. After UNC scored the first five points of the game, Ohio State took a 9-8 lead and never looked back. Holding just a two-point lead at halftime, the Buckeyes outscored North Carolina, 45-22, in the second half to run away with the game and the big-time win.
Ohio State outscored UNC 45-22 in the second half to win going away, 74-49. Closed with a 17-2 run over the final seven minutes. Duane Washington Jr. with 18 points. Kaleb with 10 points, 9 rips. Held UNC to 27% from the floor.
— Chris Lauderback (@Chris11W) December 5, 2019
It was a W that will mean even more once March is here, especially with how dominant it was. The win was a total team effort as well, which makes it that much sweeter and better for the Buckeyes.
Number of 20-point wins against top 50 kenpom teams
– Ohio State: 3
– Rest of the country: Also 3
— Jordan Sperber (@hoopvision68) December 7, 2019
Then, against Penn State, Ohio State didn’t have a letdown game or didn’t show any signs of tiredness after their game in Chapel Hill less than three days earlier. In a game that many thought would give the Buckeyes yet another good test early in the season, the scarlet and gray took care of business yet again. It was yet another blowout as well.
Leading 46-35 at the half, Ohio State once again dominated in the second half to run away with the game. They not only outscored the Nittany Lions, 60-39, in the second but scored 43 points in the final 12:16 of the game. That’s incredible in today’s college basketball landscape. It turned into the Buckeyes winning the game, 106-74, which was the first time the scarlet and gray notched 100 points since January 10, 1991.
In the 106-74 win over Penn State, OSU scored 1.51 points per possession. Best game of offense for the Buckeyes since March 2011.
— John Gasaway (@JohnGasaway) December 7, 2019
There’s a reason the Buckeyes scored so many points: They were efficient from all areas on the court. The team shot 57.4% from the field, 53.8% from beyond the arc, and 81.1% from the free-throw line. Led by Kaleb Wesson’s 28-points, 10-rebound game, which including the big man making 4-of-6 shots from long distance, four Buckeyes scored at least 14 points and seven had at least eight points.
Now 9-0 (1-0 in the Big Ten), Ohio State already beat Cincinnati and has two 25-point wins against Villanova and at North Carolina, who were both top-10 teams when the games took place. According to KenPom’s ratings, the Buckeyes are not only the top-rated team in the country, but they have the sixth-best offensive efficiency (113.6) and second-best defensive efficiency (84.5). Not a bad start. It seems as though head coach Chris Holtmann’s squad is one of the best teams in the country.
In terms of the team effort, Ohio State’s leading scorer, Kaleb Wesson, is averaging just 14.1 points per game, which doesn’t seem like much for a leading scorer on one of the best teams in the country. It’s due to the fact that eight players averaging at least 7.2 points a night. Duane Washington has knocked down 22-of-41 three-pointers. His 54.5% from beyond the arc is 18th-best in the country. With help from Luther Muhammad (50% from three-point range) and Kaleb Wesson (44.8%), Ohio State’s 41.3% mark from beyond the arc is the 14th-best in the country. Meanwhile, Kyle Young is a do-it-all player at power forward. The junior is averaging 8.9 points (fourth-most on team), 6.3 rebounds (second), and 2.9 assists (second). The ball movement is superior. The shooting is consistent. The rebounding, defense, and versatility are getting the job done. Right now, it’s hard to find a weakness with this Buckeyes team.
Defensively, they have been just as good as they have on the offensive side of the ball, if not better. It’s due to the athleticism and versatility throughout many positions on the court. Ohio State has allowed just 54.7 points per game, thus far, which is good for fifth-best in the country. The communication and all-out team effort have been there and it’s clear that Holtmann’s group wants to be a juggernaut defensively. In the end, the defense does, in fact, win championships.
Don’t look now, but don’t be surprised if the Buckeyes have the No. 2-ranked team in football *and* at least the No. 2-ranked team in men’s basketball as well. We’ll find out Monday afternoon when the latest AP Poll is revealed, but Ohio State has already proven that they can (and will) compete with the best teams in the country.
The scarlet and gray will have one more major test before the Big Ten season begins. They will take on Kentucky in Las Vegas on Saturday, December 21. The Buckeyes have already beaten two top-10 teams, could they make it three even before conference play tips off?
They have star power, good guards, versatile wings, and are big and athletic in the frontcourt, all while being a good shooting team and outstanding defensively. It’s a perfect combination, one that the Buckeyes have already used to their advantage and to beat some of the top teams in the country less than 10 games into the season.