(Image courtesy ohiostatebuckeyes.com, game information courtesy ohiostatebuckeyes.com)
The Buckeyes did a soft open to their 2018-2019 season on Thursday in an exhibition contest with an 81-63 win over UNC-Pembroke. Quickly, UNC-P is a D-II university that plays in the Peach Belt Conference. Last season’s record was 27-6 (19-3), so the Braves can play some seriously good basketball. Not surprising, since their coach is Ben Miller. Ben’s father, who also serves as a volunteer assistant coach is hometown hero (my hometown) and former Buckeye coach, Eldon Miller.
I really don’t have much to say, since this was Ohio State’s opening domestic game. I guess that Ohio State was expected to dominate play (you schedule exhibition opponents for a reason, after all) and they did. In the first half, the Buckeyes ran off to a substantial 18 point lead, 42-24, at the half. I think at that point, both Coach Holtmann and Coach Miller used the final twenty minutes to work on in-game execution for their players.
In the second half, Ohio State predominantly played freshmen, and other “new” faces. The New Kids on The Block ‘O’ accounted for 68 of the 100 game time minutes. With the sizable halftime lead, Coach Holtmann used the opportunity to a) expose his younger players to true game conditions and b) tinker a bit with how different player combinations worked together.
Ohio State shot 44% from the field (27-61), 20% (5-25) from 3-point range and 69% from the foul line (22-32).
UNC-Pembroke shot 33% from the field (22-67), 35% from 3-point range (7-20) and 60% (12-20) from the foul line.
The Buckeyes were led in scoring by Micah Potter (13 points) and Kaleb Wesson (12). Kyle Young, Luther Mohammed, and Jaedon LeDee added 9 points each. Kaleb pulled in 10 rebounds for a double-double and Luther had 3 of OSU’s 16 assists.
The Braves were led by James Murray-Boyles (18) and David Strother (11). Spencer Levi (9), Akia Pruitt (8) and Carson Pounce (8) also had significant contributions. Tyrell Kirk led the Braves in rebounding with 8. Kirk and Micah Kinsey each had 4 assists.
This is really going to be an interesting year for Ohio State. It appears to be a talented but very young/inexperienced team. Keep in mind they lost a lot of “contributions” since last season. Departed players; Kieta Bates-Diop, Jae’Sean Tate, Kam Williams and Andrew Dakich contributed 50% of minutes played, 58% of points and 50% of rebounds. With the new faces (Muhammad, Washington, Ahrens, Woods, LeDee) and players in expanded roles (Young, Potter)… this is now C.J. Jackson’s team.
Despite both teams being of comparable height, Ohio State dominated the rebounding, 56-35. In the tone-setting first half, Ohio State had a 28-13 advantage.
Ohio State’s 3-point shooting (20%) was a bit anemic, considering this was at a venue where they should have a feel for the basket.
Ohio State got away with some poor 1st half free throw shooting (62%). Regardless of opponent, this really needs to get cleaned up.
The Buckeyes begin their regular season in earnest, or at least the non-conference portion on Wednesday November 7th when they play the Cincinnati Bearcats in Cincinnati. Tip off is scheduled for 6:00 pm ET. The game will be aired on ESPN2 and/or you can listen on 97.1.