Buckeyes Pull Away From Kent State to Move to 6-0

Buckeyes Pull Away From Kent State to Move to 6-0

Ohio State, challenged for much of the game, utilized a 23-4 run in the last 10:30 of the game, to defeat visiting Kent State 71-54 in St. John Arena.  The Buckeyes looked as if they would put the game away early in the second half, leading by 17 just 2 minutes into the second half, but an athletic and pesky Kent State team battled back to get even before the Buckeyes ratcheted up the intensity on the defensive that led to the decisive run that put the game away. Ohio State put four in double figures, led by Kaleb Wesson’s 17 and 6 boards.  Duane Washington, Jr. added 16 and 7 rebounds and Luther Muhammad and D.J. Carton chipped in 13 and 11 respectively.  Ohio State held Kent State to just 37% from the floor, including just 24% from beyond the arc.  The Buckeyes didn’t have one of their best shooting nights, hitting just 44%.  Ohio State went to the line 30 times, hitting on 22 of them, while Kent State went to the line just 7 times as the Buckeyes were clearly the aggressor all night long. The Buckeyes also dominated on the glass, outrebounding the Flashes 41-27 on the night.  Add it all up and it’s a win for the Buckeyes and a 6-0 start to the season.

The game began with 3 separate jump ball attempts due to errant tosses, but it didn’t deter the Golden Flashes as a possession opening triple got Kent State on the board first.  After a Buckeye turnover, Kent State scored again taking an early 5-0 lead.  Kaleb Wesson drilled a three from the left wing to get the Buckeyes on the board and cut the lead to 2.  Duane Washington, Jr. gave Ohio State their first lead with a three from the right wing and Ohio State led 8-7 with just under 16 minutes to play in the first half. The Buckeyes struggled early taking care of the basketball to the tune of 5 early turnovers and the Golden Flashes took advantage, leading 11-10 before D.J. Carton got out in transition and scored with a circus lay up in traffic as he was fouled giving Ohio State a 12-11 advantage heading into the under 12 media timeout. A four-minute scoreless drought from the Golden Flashes enabled Ohio State to take a 4-point lead after Luther Muhammad drilled a triple from the left wing. An 11-2 Buckeye run that included a transition 3 from Washington gave Ohio State a 24-15 lead forcing Kent State to call timeout with 6:31 to go in the half. The Buckeye defense went to work, contesting nearly every Kent State shot attempt, as the Flashes missed 6 of 7 shots during one stretch. While Kent was struggling to score, the Buckeyes were not, extending the lead to 33-19 when D.J. Carton buried a three from the left wing and led 35-23 as the first half horn sounded.  Ohio State was led by 10 first half points from Washington and Kaleb Wesson added 9 and Carton scored 7.  The Buckeyes held Kent State to just 40% shooting, including just 1 of 8 from beyond the arc, while the Buckeyes hit 5 of their 9 3 point attempts. The Buckeyes were sloppy with the basketball in the first half, turning it over 10 times while also turning Kent State over 10 times in a half that lacked rhythm at times but had the Buckeyes comfortably ahead on the scoreboard thanks to their solid half-court defense. 

The Buckeyes quickly increased the lead out of the half.  A Kaleb Wesson put back dunk and a Luther Muhammad 3 forced Kent State to call a timeout less than 2 minutes in with Ohio State leading 40-23 and the game on the verge of getting out of control on the Flashes. Kent State, to their credit, would not go away and a quick 9-2 run cut the Buckeye lead to 10.  Andre Wesson’s three kept the Golden Flashes at an arm’s length with Ohio State leading 45-32 at the under 16 media timeout. Kent State started finding the stroke from long range and a 12-3 Golden Flash run, cut the Buckeye advantage to just four at the under 12 minute media timeout.  More importantly, Kaleb Wesson picked up his fourth foul on the offensive end sending him to the bench at a critical juncture of the basketball game. A Kent State triple out of the break, followed by a free throw on the next possession tied the score at 48 with 10 and a half remaining.  A pair of Muhammad free throws broke the tie and on the next possession, Muhammad was fouled attempting a three as the shot clock was expiring and he promptly buried all three giving Ohio State a 5 point lead. The Buckeyes would proceed to score the next 12 points, as part of a 17-0 run, holding Kent State scoreless for 7 minutes to take control and effectively seal the game, leading 65-48 with just over 3:30 to go in the game.

It wasn’t the prettiest effort you’ll ever see from Ohio State but they were very good once again on the defensive end, holding Kent State scoreless for long stretches in both halves.  They weren’t able to completely take advantage due to some carelessness with the basketball, turning it over 15 times for the game, that allowed Kent State to stay within striking distance.  There will be games like this in a long season and it’s how you handle a little adversity that enables a basketball team to get better and grow.  Ohio State showed poise and toughness when they were tested and challenged midway through the second half and ultimately it led to a hard fought, tough victory.

The Buckeyes will take the floor again on Friday night when they welcome Morgan State to the Schott.  Tip time for that game is scheduled for 9 pm airing on BTN.

-Jason Harris

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