Ohio State Rolls Robert Morris in Season Opener
Not since Ohio State fell to Villanova in the Round of 32 in the NCAA tournament, 231 days ago, has the Buckeyes played in a meaningful game. They did so for the first time this season in front of a Chris Holtmann era low attendance of 9,141 on Monday night and with many new faces, they did not disappoint, cruising past visiting Robert Morris in the season opener at the Schott, 91-53. Ohio State took control late in the first half and never looked back, piling on visiting Robert Morris in the second half to begin the season with a win for the 19th consecutive year. Justice Sueing made his triumphant return to the Buckeye lineup and he did so with authority, scoring a game high 20 on 8-14 shooting, including 2-3 from beyond the arc. Zed Key added a double-double, scoring 13 and pulling down 10 rebounds. Bryce Sensabaugh scored 17 to go along with 9 rebounds, while Tanner Holden added 12. Ice Likekele was a stat sheet stuffer on this night, scoring 9 points, pulling down 9 rebounds and dishing out 6 assists. The Buckeyes hit 56% of their shot attempts, holding the Colonials to just 32%. The Buckeyes made a point of emphasis in their rebounding and on this night, it paid off, out rebounding the Colonials 48-27 in a dominating effort on both ends.
The 2022-23 season scoring opened with a Zed Key triple from the right point off an Ice Likekele penetration and feed. Robert Morris answered with a bucket, but after Justice Sueing missed a pair of free throws, he got back to the stripe on the following possession off dribble drive penetration and promptly bagged both this time. On the Colonials ensuing possession, Likekele came up with a steal on the wing and took it the length of the floor for a dunk, dodging the mop guy along the way, who was late getting off the floor. After a RMU bucket, Sueing got in the paint once again and tipped in his own miss giving the Buckeyes a 9-4 lead. The Colonials scored the next three, cutting into the lead, but a second chance opportunity led to a Likekele bucket putting the Bucks back up 4. On the Colonials next possession, Key picked up his second personal foul, sending him to the bench and RMU hit both, trimming the lead back to two. Another second chance opportunity led Bryce Sensabaugh finding Tanner Holden cutting to the rim for a lay-in and the Buckeyes were back up 4. Five straight RMU points gave the Colonials their first lead and at the under 12 media timeout, Robert Morris led Ohio State 14-13 as the Buckeyes had turned it over on back to back possessions. The run continued for Robert Morris out of the break, splitting a pair of free throws before Key found the bottom for three from the top, stopping a nearly three minute scoring drought, putting the Buckeyes back in front. Roddy Gayle nailed a three from the deep left corner and the Buckeyes were getting things going offensively. A RMU bucket was followed by a Likekele hoop at the rim and after an RMU turnover, Sueing got to the rim for another two and Ohio State led 21-17. A perfectly executed pick and roll led to a Colonial deuce, but Sueing scored on consecutive possessions, the latter being a triple from the right wing to put the Buckeyes up 8. RMU got a ball to drop to cut into the lead at the under 8 minute break and with just under 7 to go, Ohio State led 26-21. More Buckeyes out of the timeout as Sueing buried another three from the right point and off baseline penetration, Sueing found Felix Okpara for a dunk forcing Robert Morris to call a timeout with Ohio State suddenly on top 10. A Robert Morris three after a couple empty Buckeye possessions led to the under 4 media timeout with Ohio State leading by 7 and Sensabaugh due to head to the line. Out of the timeout, Sensabaugh split the pair of free throws, stopping a 2 minute scoring drought and after an empty RMU trip, Sensabaugh scored on a rebound and put back to put Ohio State back up 10. A pair of Colonial free throws cut the lead back to single digits, but Gayle found Sensabaugh at the rim to answer. A pair of RMU free throws after an inexplicable foul call on the wing after the Colonial player lost a shoe, cut the lead back to 8. Ohio State answered again off Inside, outside ball movement as Likekele found Bruce Thornton on the right wing for three and against an RMU zone, Sean McNeil drilled a three from the left point to complete the first half scoring, and at the half, the Buckeyes led the Colonials 42-28. Justice Sueing led the Buckeyes in the first 20 minutes, scoring a game high 12, while Ice Likekele and Zed Key each added 6 points and 5 rebounds. Ohio State shot 51.6% from the field, including 7 of 13 from deep, assisting on 11 of 16 made field goals. The Buckeyes held RMU to just 32% shooting including an abysmal 2 of 15 from beyond the arc. Ohio State also dominated the glass in the first half, out rebounding the Colonials 22-15, including 8 of the offensive variety.
Key opened the second half scoring as he did the first, this time a mid-paint half hook put Ohio State ahead 16. Robert Morris answered with an old-fashioned three point play to cut into the lead, but a pair of Key free throws extended the Buckeye advantage. The lead grew after Thornton penetrated the defense and found McNeil for a wide open triple on the right wing. Following a Colonial miss, the Buckeyes got out in transition and a loose ball under the bucket was corralled by Key who scored at the rim forcing Robert Morris to call timeout with the Buckeyes leading 51-31 with 17 minutes to go in the game. The teams traded a pair of buckets each, the Buckeyes pair both coming from Sueing, the first in transition following a RMU miss and the second from the right block and at the under 16 media timeout, Ohio State led 55-35. Ohio State increased the lead when Likekele took the ball at the top and put it on the deck along the right of the paint and got to the rim and scored off the window. Robert Morris answered, scoring on a back door cut to the rim, but Sensabaugh drilled a triple from the left wing to increase the Buckeye lead to 23. Five straight Colonial points cut the lead to 18, but Gayle put the ball on the floor along the baseline and a bounce pass to a cutting Holden for two increased the lead back to 20. Thornton got in the lane on penetration and found Holden for another two, who scored while being fouled sending the teams to the benches for the under 12 timeout with Ohio State on top 64-42. Holden completed the three point play out of the timeout to put Ohio State ahead 23. RMU got back on the board with a two, but Gayle, with baseline penetration, finished with a reverse lay-in. Sueing scored on back to back possessions, the first at the right block, forcing his way around his defender and followed that up with a steal and dunk in transition. A miss on the RMU end and once again the Buckeyes pushed the basketball up the floor, finding Key at the rim and he was fouled going up to finish sending the teams to the benches at the under 8 with Ohio State leading 71-44. Key split the freebies out of the timeout, and the Buckeyes extended the lead when Gayle scored mid-paint out of a baseline in bounds play. After a RMU two, Likekele put it on the floor, got in the lane and found Holden in the left corner for three and Ohio State led by 31. A 5-0 Colonial run was stopped when Holden gilded through the lane for a score and Likekele split a pair of free throws increasing Ohio State’s lead to 80-51. Sensabaugh, fouled attempting a three, made two of his three attempts extending the lead as RS freshman Kalen Etzler entered for the first time. The lead extended to a game high 33 as Gayle found Okpara at the rim for a dunk and after a Gayle foul on the other end, the final media timeout of the game sent the team’s to the benches as the Buckeyes enjoyed a 84-51 lead. Out of the timeout, Coach Chris Holtman began emptying his bench as RMU missed both free throw opportunities. On the other end, Sensabaugh buried a 15 foot jumper as he was fouled and subsequently buried the free throw to complete the old fashioned three point play. Off a Colonial miss, the Buckeyes got out in transition and Gayle lobbed to Sensabaugh streaking down the left side for a dunk and the Buckeyes were up 38. Two more Sensabaugh free throws followed by a RMU bucket completed the scoring and the Ohio State win.
A successful start to the 22-23 season as the Buckeyes used a suffocating defensive effort and their superior athleticism to completely overwhelm the Colonials. The Buckeyes depth and versatility was on full display in this ballgame. They do a great job of pushing the basketball in transition and have a number of players who can put the ball on the floor and get to the rim or find shooters on the perimeter which collapses the defense leaving shooters with open looks. This team plays very unselfishly and does a great job sharing the basketball as evident by the 18 assists on 34 made field goals. It was great to see Justice Sueing, who played 24 minutes after missing nearly a full year with injury and was an impact on both ends of the floor, creating offense for himself and others as well as hitting the defensive glass and using his length to affect opposing guards. Playing a primarily 9 man rotation, the highly regarded recruiting class made up of 4 impact freshmen played as well as to be expected in their first game with the lights on and certainly there is a high ceiling with this group. There will be some growing pains as they play better competition but they will keep improving and it will be exciting to see the development.
The Buckeyes hit the hardwood again on Thursday night, hosting Charleston Southern in the Schott. Gametime is scheduled for 6:30 PM, airing on BTN.
Great to have the Bucks out on the hardwood again, and was great to have Sueing out there again. Go Bucks