Buckeyes Cruise Past Vikings

Before an announced sellout in historic St. John Arena, the 23rd ranked Ohio State basketball Buckeyes rolled to a 89-62 win over visiting Cleveland State to move to 6-0 on the season.  The Buckeyes struggled shooting the ball early, but found their stroke in the second half as they shot 53.1% from the field for the game, holding the Vikings to just 35% from the floor, utilizing defense and transition to build a big lead and roll to their 6th straight win.

A very physical start to this one and the officials let them play as Ohio State jumped out to a 12-4 lead despite not shooting it particularly well from the outside.  The Buckeyes advantage came from the paint as 18 of the first 24 points for Ohio State on the night came from the post area.  Midway through the half, Coach Chris Holtmann went small, with Jaedon LeDee playing the 5, and Cleveland State took advantage, going on an 8-2 run that forced Ohio State to call a 30 second timeout at the 8:40 mark, clinging to a 3 point advantage.  The Buckeyes would make their coach look good out of the timeout, going on a 13-4 run of their own building a 14 point advantage late in the half.  The Vikings refused to go away, however, going on a 7-0 run cutting the lead to 7 before the Buckeyes were able to get the lead back to double digits.  The Vikings trimmed the lead to 9 as the teams went to the locker room at the half.  Ohio State shot less than 50% from the floor for the half, hitting on 15 of 32, including a dismal 2 of 11 from deep, which continues a concerning 2 game trend.  The Buckeye defense did not let up fortunately, forcing the Vikings into difficult shots holding them to just 11 of 32 shooting.  C.J. Jackson was the one bright spot shooting the basketball, leading the Buckeyes with 10, including the only 2 for the Buckeyes from the three and Kaleb Wesson added 9.

Ohio State came out of the break with a decided strategy of going at the rim and it paid off as the Buckeyes bolted out of the gate with a 10-1 run to stretch the lead to 18.  During the run, Ohio State made 7 of their 9 shot attempts and a lot of the offensive effectiveness was created from a very connected defense.  When a Cleveland State player drove by one Buckeye defender, there was another one there waiting as the Vikings found it very difficult to create anything offensively.  The Buckeyes stretched the lead midway through the half when Jackson drained a triple from the left point and Kaleb Wesson was pulled down as the shot went down.  The foul was called as an intentional foul and out of the under 12 media timeout, Wesson bagged both free throws to extend the lead to 27.  The Buckeyes would build the lead to as large as 30 before coasting to the 27 point win.  Kaleb Wesson led the Buckeyes with another career high tying 19 point performance, C.J. Jackson added 17, Andre Wesson had 11 and Luther Muhammad 10 for the victorious Buckeyes.

A very workman like effort for the young Buckeye squad on a night that was played with much fanfare playing in ‘throwback’ uniforms in venerable St. John Arena.  For old Buckeye fans like myself, who actually had an opportunity to play on the floor and witness some of the great Buckeye teams in the 80’s, it was quite the spectacle and had me longing for more games to be played in a true basketball arena.  On the floor, it was another case where the Buckeyes are the most successful when they are active defensively and score in transition.  Although they have several guys who can shoot it from deep, they struggled for the second straight game in stretches hitting the long range jumper, but when their offense goes through Wesson in the post with inside outside action they are able to generate scoring in bunches.  It’s a continues work in process but a 6-0 start and a probable bump in the polls when they are released on Monday.

The Buckeyes are back in the Schott on Wednesday night with their toughest home challenge to date as they host Syracuse in the Big Ten/ACC challenge.  Tip time for that game scheduled for 7 pm to be aired on ESPN2.

-Jason Harris

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