# 5 Ohio State Overcomes Sluggish Start, Blasts SE Missouri State

The 5th ranked Ohio State basketball Buckeyes got back in the winning column overcoming a season high 21 turnovers, finishing the mid major portion of the non-conference by running away from visiting SE Missouri State 80-48. Despite playing a sloppy and rather ‘sleepy’ first 15 plus minutes, Ohio State pulled away from the visiting Redhawks and cruised to their 10th victory in 11 games. Playing without their second leading scorer Duane Washington, Jr. for the second straight game, Ohio State, who had a season high 23 assists, was led by Kaleb Wesson’s 18 points and 10 rebounds, while Andre Wesson added 14.  Kyle Young chipped in 10 points and 9 boards and DJ Carton scored 10 points to go along with 5 rebounds and 5 assists.

A lackluster start for Ohio State despite leading on the scoreboard early.  5 turnovers, and largely unforced on the offensive end, in the first 4 minutes allowed the Redhawks to keep it close, trailing only 7-4 at the first media timeout.  The concern for ball security on the floor for Chris Holtmann’s group and off the floor as Kaleb Wesson fell to the floor with an apparent knee injury just 3 minutes into the game. Fortunately, for the Buckeyes, after a quick trip to the locker room, Wesson returned at the 15-minute mark and his presence was immediately felt.  With Ohio State trailing 9-7, Wesson got the ball on the block and scored with a half hook to tie the game at 9.  The Buckeyes turnover woes would continue however and at the under 12 media timeout, the heavily favored Buckeyes trailed on the scoreboard 11-9, turning it over 9 times in the first 8 minutes. C.J. Walker gave the Buckeyes their first lead in quite a while when he buried a triple from the left point but 5 straight Redhawk points gave SE Missouri State a 16-12 lead.  Back to back threes from Kyle Young and Kaleb Wesson got the Buckeyes back out in front at the under 8 media timeout, clinging to an 18-16 lead. The Buckeyes extended their run to 13-1, turning a 4-point deficit into an 8-point lead, thanks largely to lock down half-court defense. The Redhawks would cut the lead to 5 before C.J. Walker drilled a three from the top of the key and a late free throw from Walker gave the Buckeyes a 35-26 halftime lead. The Buckeyes led despite turning it over 13 times and holding SE Missouri State to 28.6% shooting.  The Buckeyes shot it at a 63.6% clip but the turnovers and general sloppy play kept the Redhawks in the basketball game at the break. Kaleb Wesson led all scorers with 13 points and 7 rebounds in the first 20 minutes and C.J. Walker added 7.

The Buckeyes got on the board first in the second half following a Redhawk turnover, Andre Wesson found a cutting Kyle Young down the lane for the layup and Ohio State had their largest lead to that point in the game of 11. Luther Muhammad hit a deep corner followed by a dribble drive lay in by Kyle Young while being fouled and Young buried the free throw completing the old-fashioned 3-point play, and suddenly Ohio State led by 15. Andre Wesson completed an old-fashioned three-point play followed by a Kaleb Wesson 3 from the short corner and a pair of 3’s on back-to-back possessions from D.J. Carton forced the Redhawks to call timeout at the 12:03 mark.  Ohio State’s scoring run sat at 20-2, including 12 straight with the Buckeyes firmly in control, up on the scoreboard 57-30. The Buckeye run would go to 14-0 before a Redhawk three ended their scoring drought but the Buckeyes continued to put the pressure on and when D.J. Carton finished in transition with a powerful dunk, Ohio State had their largest lead of 30 and seemingly on cruise control. The Buckeyes kept pouring it on and 3 Andre Wesson triples in a matter of a minute gave Ohio State their largest lead at 78-40 at the under 4 timeout.  The Redhawks outscored Ohio State 8-2 down the stretch as Chris Holtmann emptied his bench after the final timeout, but the outcome was not in doubt.

 After a poor start, the second half was all Buckeyes, taking a 9 point game to 30 almost as fast as you can say Southeast Missouri State. This game was a certainly a tale of two halves.  While Ohio State continued to play outstanding defense, holding the Redhawks to just 16 of 60 from the floor, the sloppy play for much of the first half allowed SE Missouri State to hang around.  Once Ohio State was able to secure the basketball, their offense in the half court and in transition turned the game in a flash.  The Buckeyes, coming off a short turnaround coming home after the road loss to Minnesota on Sunday, looked out of sync for the majority of the first half.  They shot the ball very well for the game, hitting 58.8% from the field including 13 of 27 from behind the arc but the turnovers were the issue early.  Fortunately, they put it together and did a much better job of valuing the basketball in the second 20 minutes and it added up to their 10th win.  They will have to do a much better job going forward of securing the basketball if they want to achieve the success that this team is clearly capable of.

Ohio State will head to Las Vegas to participate in the 6th season of the CBS Sports Classic, squaring off against #6 Kentucky on Saturday at 5:15 on CBS.

-Jason Harris

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