2019-20 OSU Bball vs Rutgers

Ohio State built on a 15 point halftime lead with a strong start to the second half but spent the last ten minutes of the game watching a 20 point lead shrink to 3. In the end, the home team prevails as it does so often this season in the Big Ten and the Buckeyes hold on for a 72-66 victory. Kaleb Wesson was the star of this game leading the scoring with 16 points, made possible by going 3-3 from behind the arch and a perfect 3-3 from the line. And brother Andre added 13 points of his own and 10 boards, 

The win raises Ohio State’s record to 16-7 including 6-7 in the conference. Rutgers moves to 16-8, 8-6 in the Big Ten. Both teams still find themselves in the discussion for bracketology lines as the B1G continues to go very deep for post season play.

Rutgers opened the scoring with a Montez Mathis in the first minute of the game but was not able to get their second field goal until just before the second media time out. By then Ohio State had built a comfortable 17-10 lead. A quick basket by Kaleb Wesson and a 3-pointer from Justin Ahrens and the Buckeyes increased their lead to 23-12. Foul trouble forced the Scarlet Knights to hit their bench early (which pays off in the end for them as they actually get 42 point off the bench by games end). Andre Wesson and Duane Washington Jr. kept things going for OSU trading layups to increase the lead to 31-16 with 5:40 to go in the half. It appeared Ohio State was going to coast into the locker room, then Rutgers came to life in the final two minutes. Baskets by Paul Mulcahy and Jacob Young closed the deficit to 39-30. but just as quickly Andre Wesson and Justin Ahrens each buried 3’s to give the Buckeyes a 45-30 halftime lead.

The second half started where the first half ended as the Buckeyes continued to pad their lead. By the 13:05 mark, they had increased their lead to 20 points with a 55-35 score. At this point it looked to me as if the Buckeyes were just going to slow things down and as if they already had this won and they could start thinking about the Boilermakers.  Yet Rutgers was not going to go quietly into that good night.  

In a two minute stretch, Rutgers cut the lead to 10 with 4 minutes to go.The Bucks needed someone to step up and put this away but no one answered the call. All of the sudden everything Ron Harper and Geo Baker fired up was finding the bottom of the net. OSU looked timed and Rutgers made them pay. The Scarlet Knights got within 4 points 67-63 with 41 seconds to go on two fouls shots by Jacob Young.  The refs called Kaleb Wesson for the foul but it sure looked to this eyes that he never touched him. A quick foul by Rutgers and Kaleb sinks both free throws and again it looked like Ohio State would hold on with a 69-63 lead with 37 seconds remaining. But then Gwo Baker shoots up a jumper 7 feet behind the arc and now it wast 69-66 with 27.1 to go. But that was as close as Rutgers could get as the Buckeyes hit their foul shots down the stretch but they can sure take a look at their strategy against the full court press.  Much work is needed on that.

At one time OSU was 11-1, wins over Cincinnati, North Carolina, Villanova, Kentucky, Penn State and looking like a possible #1 seed. Now they are fighting just to makes sure the make it to the dance. This was a huge win, earned in spite of the fact that they did not score a field goal in the final 3:48 of play. The big difference was those two huge threes in the final 41 seconds in the first half, and the 18-21 shooting from the charity strip.

The Buckeyes will next lace it up against Purdue in the Schott at noon on Saturday, 2/15. It will be televised on FOX.

-Gregg Watson  

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