Buckeyes Move to 5-0, Dominate Purdue-Fort Wayne

The 10th ranked Ohio State basketball team won their 5th straight to open the season, easily defeating visiting Purdue Fort Wayne, 85-46.  A 16-0 early first half run gave Ohio State a big early advantage and they wouldn’t look back and continued to roll, dominating the less talented Mastodons.  The Buckeyes struggled from deep in the first half, but a blistering 10 of 14 from long range in the second half enabled the Buckeyes to stretch the margin to as many as 46 before securing the 39 point win.  The Buckeyes, who once again played stingy defense, forced the Mastodons into 19 turnovers, including 9 steals, and just 31.5% shooting. Equally as impressive, the Buckeyes, for the 5th straight game, held an opponent to less than 20 field goals made.  Kaleb Wesson led Ohio State with 15 points and 7 rebounds, while D.J. Carton added 13 and C.J. Walker 11.

The Buckeyes jumped out early, scoring the first 5 before a Mastodon triple cut the lead 2. The Buckeyes led 9-4 before another Mastodon triple cut the lead back to 2. C.J. Walker buried a three on the ensuing possession after some excellent ball movement to give Ohio State a 12-7 lead at the first media timeout. Fort Wayne struggled early shooting the basketball, hitting on just 2 of their first 15 against the aggressive Buckeye defense and although the Buckeyes were struggling to shoot it from deep, hitting just 2 of their first 8 attempts, they led 16-7 with 11:33 remaining in the first half. The Mastodons went over 7 minutes without scoring which enabled the Buckeyes to jump ahead 22-7 forcing Fort Wayne to call timeout with 9:39 on the game clock. C.J. Walker picked the pocket of a Mastodon out of the timeout and fed Washington who drilled a three and Ohio State led 25-7.  5 straight Fort Wayne points got the Mastodons within 13 but an E.J. Liddell fade away on the baseline gave the Buckeyes a 27-12 lead heading into the under 8 timeout.  Five unanswered points from Fort Wayne forced Chris Holtmann to call timeout with Ohio State leading 31-17 and just over 5 minutes remaining as Ohio State was settling for long jumpers and they weren’t falling and Coach Holtmann wanted to discuss it.  After Luther Muhammad split a pair of free throws, E.J. Liddell came up with a steal that led to a Muhammad transition lay in to give Ohio State their biggest lead to that point at 40-19.  After a Fort Wayne bucket, D.J. Carton sliced through the lane for a scoop and score and Ohio State had doubled up the Mastodons, leading 42-21.  Fort Wayne would go on to score the last 4 of the half and the teams went into the locker room with Ohio State on top 42-25.  The Buckeyes really struggled from long range, hitting just 3 of 16, but overall made 48.5% from the floor, while holding Fort Wayne to just 29%.  The Buckeyes also dominated the glass, outrebounding the Mastodons 25-16. Duane Washington led the way for Ohio State in the scoring column with 8, while Kaleb Wesson and E.J. Liddell each had 6. Fort Wayne’s Marcus DeBerry led all scorers in the first 20 minutes with 12.

The Buckeyes came out of the locker room like a house of fire and it started with their disruptive defense, frustrating the Mastodons and not allowing them to get into any of their offensive sets.  On the other end, back to back three’s by Kaleb Wesson, followed by 8 straight C.J. Walker points that included a pair of threes and a two steals, forced Fort Wayne to call timeout less than 4 minutes into the half with Ohio State leading 56-29.  A D.J. Carton triple from the wing forced Ft. Wayne to call timeout with just over 12 minutes to go in the basketball game and Ohio State running away with it, leading 60-32. The Buckeye onslaught continued out of the timeout.  5 more from Carton, followed by a dribble drive baseline dunk by E.J. Liddell had Ohio State cruising, on top 69-32 with 9 and half left.  After the Mastodon’s ended a more than 5 minute scoring drought with a three from the right point, Kaleb Wesson answered that with a three from the left corner to give Ohio State a 72-35 lead and Coach Holtmann emptying his bench.  The Buckeyes continued to stretch the lead thanks to some hot shooting.  A three by walk on Danny Hummer and three triples from sharpshooter Justin Ahrens gave the Buckeyes an 84-38 bulge at the final media timeout of the game.  The Mastodons would go on to score 8 of the final 9 points of the game to complete the game’s final margin.

Ohio State continues to impress with their sheer depth and athleticism but what’s maybe more impressive is their connectivity on the defensive end.  No matter the opponent, whether it be Cincinnati, Villanova or Fort Wayne, the Buckeyes play intense, suffocating half-court defense taking their opponent out of any rhythm offensively.  If they continue to play that kind of defense, which has been a staple of Chris Holtmann teams in his short Ohio State tenure, this team has a chance to compete against anyone in the country. They have a couple more games upcoming against mid majors before the big one in Chapel Hill against North Carolina, which will be another big test for this young basketball team.

Ohio State will have a bit of a short turnaround, taking the floor again Monday evening in historic St. John Arena, hosting Kent State.  Tip time for that game is scheduled for 6:30 PM, airing on BTN.

-Jason Harris

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