Buckeyes Dominate Knights
On a night when Buckeye fans said goodbye to four incredible graduates, the Buckeyes ran away from Rutgers, clinching a double-bye in the Big Ten tournament, winning in dominant fashion, 79-52 to move to 23-7 and 14-3 in the Big Ten. The Buckeyes said goodbye one last time in the Schottenstein Center to seniors, Andrew Dakich, Kam Williams, Jae’Sean Tate and Keita Bates-Diop and they sent them off in style. The Buckeyes ended their two game slide keeping their hopes alive for a Big Ten title. They will need a win in Bloomington and a Wisconsin win over Michigan State on Sunday to accomplish that goal.
The Buckeyes started the game with a senior laden lineup with Kam Williams and Andrew Dakich getting the start and early it was all Buckeyes. Williams was the man with the hot hand early, drilling 3 triples as Ohio State utilized an 11-0 run to jump out to a 30-11 lead with just 6 minutes remaining in the half and looked as if they would coast in the home finale. Rutgers, meanwhile was struggling to find any offense, hitting on just 5 of their first 20 shot attempts. The Knights, to their credit, cranked up the D and it led to offense as Rutgers finished the half on a 16-2 run to trim the lead to just 5 at the half, hitting 7 of their last 8 shot attempts leaving the big crowd in the Schottenstein Center stunned at the break. Williams led the Buckeyes with 11 first half points and Kaleb Wesson, who left the game and went to the locker room with an apparent injury just before the big Rutgers run, added 7.
The Buckeyes came out of the locker room in the second half roaring and after a Kaleb Wesson ‘and 1’ three point play and a C.J. Jackson triple, the Buckeyes expanded the lead to 11 in a flash, forcing Rutgers to call a timeout less than 2 minutes in. Rutgers would go on an extended scoring drought and the Buckeyes made them pay building the lead to 17 with 13 minutes remaining. When Jackson hit a floater in the lane, the Buckeyes led by 21 by virtue of an 18-2 run to open the half, with 11 coming from Jackson. The Buckeyes would build the lead to as many as 28 and eventually closed out the 2017-2018 home slate with the 27-point victory. In a game dedicated to the seniors, it was the underclassmen that led the way. Jackson led the Buckeyes with 18 and Kaleb Wesson added 14. Kam Williams scored 13 in his last home game and Jae’Sean Tate added 9 points and 10 rebounds. In a rare off night for the presumptive Big Ten player of the year Keita Bates-Diop, his teammates picked up the slack and led the Buckeyes to victory.
One game to go and a chance to win the Big Ten championship. Let that sink in for a minute. Whether that goal is accomplished or not will never diminish what this team has done this season. All of Buckeye nation should be extremely proud of this team and especially the seniors who have seen the program at its lowest point but have worked their tails off and have stayed the course and are finally able to see that hard work rewarded. Hopefully they can get the win in Bloomington and get some help from the Badgers so another banner can be hung in the Schott. It comes down to this, a win and the Buckeyes clinch at least the 2 seed in New York. With a win and a Spartan loss, they sit as the 1. Either way, they can finish no worse than 3rd which is an incredible feat.
The Buckeyes close out the regular season with a road tilt at Indiana on Friday night. Tip time for that game is set for 8 pm on FS1.
– Jason Harris