(Photo courtesy Ohio State Athletic Department. Game information courtesy OhioStateBuckeyes.com, ESPN.com)

Pretty much the story – too many Zag defenders.

Ohio State is in Portland, OR for a three game set to help Phil Knight’s (Nike honcho) celebrate his 80th birthday by playing in the PK80 Invitational.

The Buckeyes (4-1) opened against #17 Gonzaga (4-0) Friday morning (Eastern time) and got outplayed 86-59. This was their first game of the season away from the friendly environs of the VCA and there first game against a really good opponent.  It was an eye-opener.

The Buckeyes were led by Jae’Sean Tate (12 points, 4 rebounds), C.J. Jackson (12, 3, 3 asst) and Kaleb Wesson (10, 4). Kieta Bates-Diop (7, 10) led Ohio State in rebounding. Ohio State played without forward Micah Potter, who was nursing an ankle injury.

Gonzaga was led by Jonathan Williams (21, 5), Josh Perkins (20, 2, 4 asst) and Corey Krispert (10, 2). Killian Tillie led Gonzaga, and both teams with 11 rebounds.

Ohio State shot a dismal 34.5% from the field (19-55),  30% (6-20) from 3-point range and a so-so 68% from the foul line (15-22).

Gonzaga shot 58.5% from the field (31-53), 48% from 3-point range (12-25) and a meh 67% (12-18) from the foul line.

Hopefully, the 86 points allowed and 59 scored set the upper and lower limits on what we’ll see this season.

What Went Right

The Buckeyes slugged it out with a better team for half of the first half, trailing only 27-25 at the 10:00 mark. For the most part, their ball movement was fairly brisk and they rebounded well.

Although out-rebounded 35-31, they held up well against a taller, quicker Gonzaga team. Ohio State’s 12 offensive rebounds were an encouraging sign that they intend to be assertive and extend offensive possessions.

Jae’Sean Tate and Kaleb Wesson played whistle-to-whistle, banging around inside and generally providing a high level of effort. Granted, Kaleb fouled out and Jae’Sean was called for four fouls, but I loved their effort.

Due to Micah Potter’s absence, there was extended playing time for freshmen Caleb Wesson and Kyle Young. As mentioned above, Kaleb had a good game and Kyle was active with 3 offensive rebounds a point and a steal in his 12 minutes.

What Didn’t

Kieta Bates-Diop was completely taken out of the game by Gonzaga. Entering the game, KBD was averaging 13 shots and 19 points per game. Against the Zags, he took 7 shots and scored 7 points. And he took some bad shots, especially at the end of the 1st half, doing so.

The OSU defense was a step slow and maybe two steps out of place. They struggled to cover the ‘roll’ man on the pick & roll and their spacing provided some gaps in their zone defense that the Zags exploited.

Good god the offense, abetted by a quick Gonzaga defense, was awful. How awful?

  • In the first half, a C.J. Jackson FG at the 9:06 mark was OSU’s last field goal of the half. The Buckeyes didn’t score their next FG until almost two minutes had elapsed in the second half, an 11 minute span.
  • At the 7:48 mark in the first half, two Kaleb Wesson free throws pulled Ohio State to within two points, 33-31. That was the high water mark for the Buckeyes for the remainder of the game.
  • After KW’s free throws, Ohio State’s next 14 possessions were 6 turnovers and 8 missed field goals. Gonzaga was on an 11-0 run to end the half with a 44-31 lead.


Thoughts and opinions…

  • I think a large part of Ohio State’s defensive issues were lack of/poor communication. I think that was driven by new players on the court not meshing with one another yet. Last year, Loving/Lyle/Thompson combined for 86 minutes per game. That’s a lot of court time to be made up with freshmen Kaleb Wesson, Musa Jallow and senior transfer Andrew Dakich.
  • Ohio State’s lack of depth at guard was clearly evident against Gonzaga. Ohio State started freshman Musa Jallow (27 minutes)and point guard C.J. Jackson logged 28 minutes. Last season, C.J. averaged 19 minutes per game, so he is being leaned on quite a bit this season.
  • Lack of depth at frontcourt was apparent as well. Micah’s game was missed, although it did give Kyle Young plenty of minutes. However, Gonzaga was too big, too quick in the frontcourt.

Up Next

The Buckeyes stay in Portland to play Stanford (3-3) as the next opponent in the PK80 Invitational. On Thursday night, the Cardinal lost to #7 Florida 108 – 87.  Stanford is averaging 77 points per game while allowing 79 ppg. For comparison, the Buckeyes are scoring 85 and allowing 64. In this young season, Gonzaga has four players that average double figures scoring per game, led by Travis Reid’s 21 ppg. Ohio State has four players (Kieta Bates-Diop, Jae’Sean Tate, Kaleb Wesson and C.J. Jackson)

The game is scheduled Thursday/Friday (depending upon your time zone. Tip-off is scheduled for 9:00 pm ET Friday. So, technically, from Eastern Time perspective, this is their second game in the same day. The game can be seen on ESPN2. and/or you can listen to it on 97.1.