(Image courtesy nbc4i.com, game information courtesy ohiostatebuckeyes.com, ESPN.com)
The Buckeyes (6-3, 1-0) opened the Big Ten season in fine form with an 83-58 demolition of the Badgers (5-2, 0-1) at my namesake Center. This was the worst beating a Wisconsin team has ever taken at the Kohl Center. Coach Chris Holtmann juggled the lineup a bit and started senior Kam Williams in place of C.J. Jackson. It seemed to have made a difference – for one night.
One story line of this game was OSU’s alert, aggressive and opportunistic play. The other story line, which I’ll touch on below was their uncanny shooting. In previous outings, Ohio State has had double digit leads and squandered them. Against Wisconsin, with 5 minutes remaining in the half, they held a 15 point lead, 39-24. By the end of the first half, the lead was expanded to 23 points, 49-26. With four minutes remaining in the game, the Buckeyes still had a 30 point lead, 79-49. At that point, the teams cruised to the finish lie with the Buckeyes salting away the 25 point win.
Within four and a half minutes in the second half, the Buckeyes had upped their lead to 35 points.
The Buckeyes were led by Kieta Bates-Diop’s double-double (17 points, 11 rebounds), Kaleb Wesson (19, 4), Jae’Sean Tate (16, 3) and C.J. Jackson (10, 3). In Kam Williams’ first start of the season he had 9 points and 1 rebound.
The Badgers was led by Kelan Martin (24 pts, 6 rebounds), Kamar Baldwin (14, 2, 4 asst) and Paul Jorgensen (10, 6).
Ohio State shot 66% from the field (31-47), 54% (7-13) from 3-point range and 74% from the foul line (14-19).
Wisconsin shot a pretty anemic 39% from the field (19-49), 37% from 3-point range (10-27) and a terrific 83% (10-12) from the foul line.
What Went Right
Pretty much everything. If you watched this game, you’d wonder “where in the hell were you for the last few games?”.
On offense, the Buckeyes were crisp with their passing looking and finding an open team mate. They positioned themselves well and managed to find openings in the Badger defense for open shots. When drives were cut off, their perimeter spacing allowed them open 3-pt shots.They set and came off screens effectively, leading to several open and made jump shots. This was the best I’ve seen the Ohio State offense flow in a long time.
On defense, Ohio State had “active” hands. Wisconsin passes often were deflected to throw their offense out of rhythm or were intercepted by Ohio State. They were often pressuring the ball via double-team and yet had good enough rotation to the off-side they rarely got burned by weak side Wisconsin scoring.
There are probably a few other things, but we don’t have all day, so let’s move on.
I really don’t have much here. Kaleb and Jae’Sean got into some foul trouble and turned the ball over a few times. Look, it’s Big Ten basketball; frontcourt players are always going to get called for fouls and Jae’Sean has never been the best ball handler. Anything else is just picking nits about a 25 point win over a rival on their court.
I’m sure there will be other games where I have legitimate gripes – just not this game.
- Maybe Coach Holtmann was sending a message to C.J. Jackson by not starting him. In his previous two games, C.J. had totaled 12 turnovers. That’s “play-making” for the wrong team. In 26 minutes against Wisconsin, C.J. still managed 10 points but turned the ball over only once.
- Ohio State, averaging 14 turnovers per game, still gave it up 13 times against the Badgers. This time the forwards were the culprits with Tate, Bates-Diop and Wesson (Kaleb) combining for 8 turnovers. Wisconsin wasn’t squeaky clean either, committing 13 turnovers.
- However, Ohio State took advantage of opponent turnovers and Wisconsin didn’t. Although the turnover total was a wash, Ohio State scored 17 points off turnovers to Wisconsin’s 9.
- I think the brisk OSU ball movement was a huge advantage. Ohio State outscored Wisconsin 36-12 in Points-in-Paint. Ohio State had only 5 offensive rebounds, so that wasn’t an advantage. What was?
- I think the spacing of the Ohio State players made a big difference. Drives to the basket resulted in layups or dump-offs to open team-mates.
- Kaleb Wesson had a career high scoring game with 19 points. He played only 17 minutes. So, let’s ee; if I divide 19 by 17 I get 1.12, times 40 (minutes) and that gives me ~ 44 points. That’s pretty efficient court time.
- I do want to mention that I thought that Kyle Young had a decent enough game. In 19 minutes, a season high, he had 4 points, 2 rebounds and 1 steal. Not an eye-popping number, but nice game time to pick up some of the slack from Kaleb’s foul trouble (4 fouls) and Micah Potter’s ankle rehabbing.
The Buckeyes host Michigan (7-2, 1-0) on Monday evening. The tip-off is scheduled for 6:30 pm ET. The game can be seen on FS1 and/or you can listen to it on 97.1.
The Wolverines average 77 points per game while allowing 62 ppg. They average 33 rebounds and 9 turnovers per game. For comparison, the Buckeyes are scoring 77 and allowing 68. Ohio State averages 39 rebounds and 15 turnovers per game. Not much to choose from here.
In this young season, Michigan has three layers that average double figures scoring per game. They are Moritz Wagner (15.6), Charles Matthews (15.2) and Duncan Robinson (11.1). Wagner also leads Michigan in rebounding with 8.4 per game. Ohio State has four players averaging double figures; Kieta Bates-Diop (17.3), Jae’Sean Tate (13.2), C.J. Jackson (12.8) and Kaleb Wesson (12.1). KBD also leads the Buckeyes in rebounds with 10.0 per game.