Jackson’s Big Second Half Leads the Buckeyes by the Bruins

The 15th ranked Ohio State Buckeyes went into the United Center in Chicago for the second time this season and duplicated the result of their first trip, winning this time over UCLA in the CBS Sports Classic, defeating the Bruins 80-66 to move to 11-1 on the season.  C.J. Jackson scored 20 of his 22 after halftime as Ohio State found its rhythm on offense in the second half to pull away from UCLA late, securing another signature win for the NCAA tournament resume.

Both teams struggled offensively at the outset as defenses ruled the early going.  The Buckeyes turned the Bruins over at a high rate but struggled in the half court against the UCLA zone as the Bruins were able to build a 5-point advantage through the midway part of the first half despite going nearly five minutes without scoring.  The Buckeyes could not take advantage, going 1-7 from the floor during that stretch.  Ohio State regained the lead, scoring off their defense in transition. C.J. Jackson found Luther Muhammad wide open in the corner and he calmly buried the three to give Ohio State a two-point advantage just prior to the under 4 media timeout.  The Bruins would tie it, but an inside outside two man game with Kaleb Wesson and Duane Washington, Jr., led to Washington burying a triple from the right wing to give the Buckeyes a three point lead that they would hold at the break despite turning the ball over 7 times themselves.  The Bruins shot 48% from the field in the first 20 minutes, but the Buckeyes forced UCLA into 12 turnovers that limited the Bruins from gaining any momentum on the offensive end.  Ohio State shot just 36% from the floor in the first half and hit just 3 of 10 from long range as the defense carried the Buckeyes to the first half advantage, scoring 9 points off of Bruin turnovers.  Kaleb Wesson led Ohio State with 10 and Luther Muhammad added 7 for Ohio State.  UCLA was led by Kris Wilkes’s 13 first half points.

Ohio State came out in the second half much more patient on the offensive end and it led to a couple easy buckets near the rim by Kyle Young and Keyshawn Woods off a transition pass from C.J. Jackson and the lead swelled to 6 forcing UCLA coach Steve Alford to call timeout at the 17 minute mark.  An Andre Wesson triple from the right wing gave Ohio State a 9 point lead and capped an 8-0 Buckeye run as Ohio State enjoyed their largest lead of the game to that point.  The Bruins would trim the lead to 6 but a Washington, Jr. triple from the left wing off a feed from Muhammad gave the Buckeyes their 9 point lead back just prior to the under 12 media timeout.  The Bruins would come right back to go on a 5-0 run of their own to trim the lead to four midway through the second half.  The Buckeyes had their chances to stretch the lead a bit but a pair of missed front ends of one and one’s by Kaleb Wesson and a split of two from the stripe by Andre Wesson allowed UCLA to stay close.  The Buckeyes began to pull away late as Jackson hit a runner from the right corner to give Ohio State an 8-point lead.  Off a UCLA miss, Woods threw a 3-quarter court alley oop pass to Kyle Young who threw it down giving Ohio State a 10-point lead and forcing a UCLA timeout with 6 minutes to go.  Out of the timeout and a UCLA miss, Jackson, who began to find his stroke, buried a 3 from the right wing and a pair of Andre Wesson free throws capped a 9-0 Buckeye run and had the Buckeyes ahead by 15 on the scoreboard.  The Bruins would get no closer than 11 the rest of the way as Ohio State won for just the second time in the CBS Sports Classic and first since defeating Kentucky in 2015.  In addition to Jackson’s 22 points, he added 6 assists and 7 rebounds with just 3 turnovers to lead the Buckeyes to the win.  Kaleb Wesson added 15 points and 12 rebounds and Kyle Young scored 11 and pulled down 6 boards.  Keyshawn Woods scored just 6 points but assisted on 10 made buckets as the Buckeyes assisted on 26 of their 28 made field goals.

A solid win for the Buckeyes in their penultimate game in the non-conference schedule and should propel Ohio State up a tick in the rankings when they are released on Monday.   The Buckeyes took some time to solve the UCLA zone but the aggressiveness on defense and patience offensively ultimately paid off as the Buckeyes garnered yet another signature victory over the young but talented Bruins.  The Buckeyes will enjoy a little time off for the Christmas holiday before lacing them back up a week from today in their final non-conference game of the season.

Ohio State next takes the floor a week from today against High Point at the Schott.  Tip time scheduled for Noon to be aired on the Big Ten Network.

-Jason Harris

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