Buckeyes Fall to #17 Zags

The Ohio State basketball Buckeyes lost their first game of the Chris Holtmann era, falling to the 17th ranked Gonzaga Bulldogs in the early morning hours 86-59. The game, the first of 3 that the Buckeyes will play in Portland, Oregon in the PK80 Invitational tournament, didn’t tip until after 12:30 am eastern but the Buckeyes came out to play early. The Buckeyes went toe to toe with the Zags, a participant in last year’s final four, due to some hot shooting from Musa Jallow and C.J. Jackson who found their stroke early. However, they got out of sorts offensively late in the half as the Bulldogs scored the last 12 of the half to lead by 13 at the break. The Buckeyes failed to score in the last 7:48 of the half and the Zags took full advantage heading into the locker room with a comfortable lead. Jackson led the Buckeyes in the first 20 minutes with 10 and Jallow added 8. However, due to an ankle injury, center Micah Potter was forced to sit out of this game and the lack of depth was felt as freshman Kaleb Wesson had to shoulder the load in the post. It came back to haunt the Buckeyes, as late in the half Wesson picked up a 3rd foul as Kyle Young was waiting at the scorer’s table to replace him so an already thin front line got much thinner.

The second half was more of the same as the Zags bumped the lead quickly to 19 with a pair of 3’s and Chris Holtmann was forced to call a quick timeout as the Buckeyes looked defeated. Following the timeout, the Buckeyes scored 5 quick points, all by senior forward Jae’Sean Tate and went into the under 16 with a little momentum. But, Gonzaga, who shot the ball well all night, went back to work and extended the lead to 22 and the game was for all intents and purposes over. The Buckeyes, after starting the game 5 of 7 from 3, went ice cold, hitting only 1 of their next 13 and with a clear depth issue in the paint, they had to shoot much better to compete in this game and unfortunately, they did not. On the flip side, the Zags hit 12 of 25 from long range and looked comfortable for the majority of the game. Tate and Jackson led Ohio State with 12 apiece and Kaleb Wesson added 10.  Keita Bates-Diop chipped in 7 to go along with 10 rebounds for the losing Buckeyes.
It was most definitely a good experience for the young Buckeye group. They fell into some old habits at times of settling for long jumpers, but a lot of that was due to the Zags stellar defense on the interior forcing the smallish Buckeyes outside the paint.
The Buckeyes are certainly not elite for now and they are a long way from it, but they didn’t quit. They just ran into a better team that shot the ball extremely well. There will be better days in the future and hopefully they will learn from this one and come out in game 2 ready to go and bounce back.
Ohio State plays again in Portland later tonight against the Stanford Cardinal. Tip time for that one is approximately 9 pm Eastern.
 ​– Jason Harris​

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