Buckeyes Grind Out a Win Over Samford

The #23 ranked Ohio State basketball Buckeyes struggled shooting the basketball, but came away with a win, defeating Samford 68-50 to move to 5-0 on the season.  It was a test for the young Buckeyes, but utilizing a lockdown defensive effort in the second half, they were able to put away the Bulldogs for their 5th straight victory.  From a coaching standpoint, the Buckeyes got what they wanted, a challenging opponent, but yet a win and that’s what the early season games are designed for.  Samford is an underrated team that came into the game 5-0 and will surprise some folks within their conference.

Coach Chris Holtmann in an apparent discipline situation, started just 1 regular, C.J. Jackson, and the Bulldogs took advantage. Samford came out hot, while Ohio State did not, as the Bulldogs jumped out to a quick 11-4 lead, while the Buckeyes struggled shooting the basketball.  The Buckeyes would answer with a 7-0 run to take their first lead at the 10:03 mark when Luther Muhammad buried a three from the right corner.  Samford would answer with a 7-0 run of their own to take a 22-18 lead.  The Samford matchup zone defense combined with some cold Buckeye shooting spurred the Bulldogs who were the aggressor from the outset, having their way on the offensive end, shooting 50% from the floor to take a 32-29 lead into the locker room.  The Buckeyes, on the other hand, shot just 37.5% from the floor, including just 2 of 11 from long range and despite going to the line 14 times, only converting 9, which included missing 2 front ends.  The Bulldogs also led the battle of the boards, outrebounding the Buckeyes 18-14. Kaleb Wesson led the Buckeyes with 9 points in the first 20 minutes.

A pair of early turnovers and a Samford 3 gave the Bulldogs a 6 point advantage early in the second half before the Buckeyes went on a 5-0 run of their own.  A Kaleb Wesson bucket in the paint and an acrobatic ‘double-save’ from C.J. Jackson and Luther Muhammed on the wing, created transition for Ohio State and Andre Wesson buried a three from the top of the key to bring the Buckeyes within a point causing Samford to call a timeout at the 16:27 mark.  The Buckeyes would extend their run on the ensuing possession, taking the lead off a nifty baseline dish from Jackson to Andre Wesson who laid it in off the glass.  The Buckeye run would extend to 9-0 and a three-point advantage before the Bulldogs buried a three from the right wing to tie it at 38.  The Buckeyes were the most successful on this night when they got it in transition and they did just that as Keyshawn Woods was fouled and made a scoop shot lay in while being fouled to send the Buckeyes into the under 12 media timeout enjoying a 3-point lead.  Out of the timeout, Woods buried the free throw and the Buckeyes turned up the pressure on defense with a pair of stops and converted on the offensive end.  A rebound put back by Kyle Young and a stop and pop at the foul line by Duane Washington gave the Buckeyes their largest lead of 8.  The run would continue to 12-0, 6 of which were contributed by Young, and the Buckeyes enjoying a 12-point bulge, created by ratcheting up the intensity on the defensive end.  After Samford scored the first 3 of the half, Ohio State went on a decisive 21-3 run that all but put it away. The Buckeyes would extend the lead down the stretch holding the Bulldogs to just 18 second half points on just 26% shooting, en route to the win.  Kaleb Wesson led the Buckeyes with a career high tying 19 and Keyshawn Woods added 14.

This game was the case of winning ugly.  The shots did not fall tonight for Ohio State, hitting just 3 of 20 from deep but they were able to win with defense and once they ramped up the pressure on the defensive end, it led to some easy transition opportunities and made things difficult offensively for the Bulldogs.  The best thing about 5-0 is the chance to go 6-0 and the Buckeyes will have a chance to do just that on Friday night against Cleveland State.

The Buckeyes take the floor in St. John Arena on Friday night, hosting Cleveland State at 8 pm to be aired on FS1.

– Jason Harris

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