2nd Ranked Ohio State Upset by #22 West Virginia in Cleveland

The 2nd ranked Ohio State Buckeyes coming off a long Christmas break, struggled in sloppy affair in Cleveland, turning it over 20 times, falling to #22 West Virginia 67-59 in Cleveland’s Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse. With the loss, Ohio State finishes in the non-conference portion of their schedule 10-1 and will head into the New Year 11-2 overall. Kaleb Wesson paced Ohio State with 17 points and 9 rebounds, while Duane Washington added 12 and C.J. Walker and Luther Muhammad chipped in 10 apiece.

The Buckeyes started a little flat after being off for more than a week, turning it over 3 of their first four possessions as West Virginia got the scoring started with a jumper from the right wing.  The Buckeyes finally got on the board as Luther Muhammad found Kyle Young along the baseline for a short banker and after a Mountaineer turnover, C.J. Walker drilled a crossover jumper from just above the free throw line gave Ohio State their first lead 3 minutes into the game.  The Buckeyes turned it over another two times before the first media timeout, but thanks to their defense, still led 5-2.  After a WVU bucket out of the timeout, D.J. Carton drove into the paint and kicked it out to the right wing for Walker, who drilled a 3 to give Ohio State an 8-4 lead.  WVU came right back with a desperation triple of their own as the shot clock was expiring to trim the Buckeye lead back to 1. Another Walker three was answered by a West Virginia 3 but Ohio State still led by a point as the game was becoming a 3 point contest.  A Kaleb Wesson fade in the lane put the Buckeyes back up by 3 and after a Mountaineer bucket, Kaleb Wesson found Duane Washington in the corner for yet another Buckeye three.  At the under 12 minute timeout, the Buckeyes clung to a 3 point lead, but 7 turnovers had to be a concern for the Buckeye coaching staff.  The turnover bug continued as Ohio State had amassed 9 turnovers in just over 12 minutes of play. After a Mountaineer three gave WVU a 20-18 lead, Chris Holtmann called timeout with 7:25 to play in the first half attempting to settle down the troops.  The Buckeyes had made just 6 field goals in the first 12 plus minutes to go along with those aforementioned 9 turnovers allowing the Mountaineers to grab the lead. Four straight free throws enabled Ohio State to regain the lead at 22-20.  After a WVU bucket, Walker knocked down a 15-foot jumper from the right elbow breaking a 0-6 streak from the field. Ohio State maintained a slight lead before a 8-1 run, capped by a Washington three from the left corner gave the Buckeyes their largest lead at 7, leading 32-25 at the under 4 minute media timeout. A WVU triple ended the run and cut the Ohio State lead to 4 but with Ohio State leading by 6 and the shot clock expiring, Luther Muhammad knocked down a three from the left wing to give Ohio State their largest lead, 37-28 with under a minute to play.  The Mountaineers answered with a late three to keep it close and Ohio State went into the locker room with a 37-31 lead in a first half that had no flow thanks to 14 Mountaineer fouls and a combined 18 turnovers, 10 by Ohio State. C.J. Walker led Ohio State with 10 and Luther Muhammad had 9 and Kaleb Wesson and Duane Washington each scored 8.

Luther Muhammad came up with a strip steal early in the second half and was fouled going coast to coast. He split a pair of free throws to get the second half scoring underway but a Mountaineer three trimmed the Buckeye lead to 4. The lead went back to 6 when Muhammad knifed through the lane and found Kaleb Wesson along the baseline for a dunk and Ohio State led 40-34. The lead unfortunately evaporated in a hurry as a 7-0 West Virginia run, keyed by 5 straight Ohio State turnovers gave the Mountaineers a 1 point lead with 12:34 remaining.  D.J. Carton ended the run and a 5 plus minute Ohio State scoring drought, knocking down a three from the right wing to give Ohio State a 2 point lead with 11:49 to go in the game. The lead would be short lived as a 9-2 West Virginia run gave the Mountaineers their largest lead of the game at 52-47 at the under 8 minute timeout as the Buckeyes were struggling to find any offense. Since starting the game 6 of 8 from the field, the Buckeyes had gone 6 of 30 since contributing to the 5 point deficit and the game teetering in the balance. The Buckeyes would creep closer and they would do it from the stripe as 4 straight Kaleb Wesson free throws trimmed the deficit to just 1 with 5:11 on the clock. After West Virginia split a pair of free throws, Andre Wesson buried a three, his first points of the game, to give Ohio State a 1-point lead.  The Mountaineers made a short jumper on their end to regain the lead and after a West Virginia foul, the teams hit the bench for the final media timeout with WVU leading Ohio State 55-54 but with Kaleb Wesson heading to the stripe to attempt to tilt the scoreboard back in the Buckeye’s favor. Wesson missed the front end of the one and one but following a West Virginia offensive foul, Chris Holtmann sensing the importance of the current possession, called a 30 second timeout. Out of the timeout, Andre Wesson got a look from long range but, it clanged off target and after West Virginia secured the rebound, Bob Huggins called timeout, also sensing the importance of the current Mountaineer possession. After a Kaleb Wesson foul, WVU buried both free throws to lead by 3 with just over 2 minutes to go. On the ensuing possession, an offensive foul called on C.J. Walker, the 20th turnover of the day for Ohio State gave the ball back to West Virginia and Ohio State in desperate need of a stop. A Mountaineer bucket followed by another Ohio State turnover had the Buckeyes looking up at a 5 point deficit and the clock not on their side. Two more WVU free throws built a near insurmountable lead for the Mountaineers, but Kaleb Wesson drilled a triple from the top of the key to cut the lead to 4 but with just 51 seconds to go. An Ohio State steal gave them an opportunity but Duane Washington missed a wide open look for three and after an offensive rebound, Kaleb Wesson drove hard to the rim and was hammered but unfortunately got no call and the Mountaineers had all but secured the victory, making their free throws in the final moments to secure the upset.

There’s not much to say about this one.  Ohio State was sloppy from the jump and ultimately succumbed to the sloppy and rag tag style employed by the less talented Mountaineers.  The loss is ultimately of little importance in the long run, but the turnover numbers of late have to be extremely concerning for Chris Holtmann and his staff as they head into Big Ten play.  Sloppy play from his guards, most especially D.J. Carton, has to be cleaned up for Ohio State to achieve what they are capable of achieving this season.  They will get back to work before getting into the heart of Big Ten play starting Friday.

Ohio State will get back at it Friday night, hosting Wisconsin in the Schott.  Tip time for that game is scheduled for 7 pm airing on FS1.

-Jason Harris


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