(Image courtesy ohiostatebuckeyes.com, game information courtesy ohiostatebuckeyes.com, ESPN.com, stats courtesy of teamrankings.com)

If you stuck around to watch the second half of Ohio State’s (11-1, 2-0) 80-66 win over UCLA (7-5, 0-0), more credit to you. It was 20 minutes of basketball more likely to be seen at the Thursday night rec league at your local YMCA. Neither team shot well, UCLA was decidedly indifferent to transition defense (luckily for OSU) and UCLA had nearly as many turnovers (12) as field goals (14).  It was a gruesome watch. Despite shooting only 36% for the half, Ohio State outscored UCLA 7-4 in the final 3:19 of the first half to take a 33-30 lead at intermission. In a text exchange, my friend Joe (@BuckeyeRadio) Dexter bemoaned that Ohio State didn’t have a consistent perimeter shooter. They were 3-10 for the half, so he is not wrong. However, they did appear to have a plan to attack the UCLA 2-3 zone by flashing a player into the middle of the zone to, in effect, run the offense from the foul line. Too bad their poor first half shooting sabotaged the solid game plan.

In the second half, Ohio State seemed to find their offensive spacing, rhythm and their shooting eye. They tightened their defense from the first half, holding UCLA to 39% shooting in the half.  Although UCLA scored more points (36) in the second half than they did the first (30), I think OSU’s defense was better. The point differential is because UCLA made way more free throw’s in the second half than the first; 12-0.

The Buckeyes had three players in double figures. They were C.J. Jackson (22), the aforementioned Kaleb Wesson (15) and Kyle Young (11).  Kaleb also had a game high 12 rebounds while Keyshawn Woods had a game high 10 assists.

There was nice “2nd tier” scoring with Kyle Young, Luther Mohammad and Duane Washington, Jr each scoring 8 points. Although Andre Wesson had almost as many broken teeth (3) as points (4), he did pull down 9 rebounds..

The Bruins were led by Kris Wilkes (18), Jaylen Hands (13) and Cody Riley (10). Wilkes had 7 rebounds and Hands had 9 assists. 

Ohio State shot 42% from the field (28-67), 35% (8-23) from 3-point range and 72% (13-18) from the foul line. 

UCLA shot 44% from the field (25-57), 22% (4-18) from 3-point range and 70% (16-23) from the foul line. 

What Went Right

Ohio State’s offensive sets worked a lot better in the second half. The Buckeyes shot nearly 50% in the half (15-31) and all 15 field goals were assisted. 

Continuing, Ohio State averages 15 assists per game; against UCLA they had 26. That’s impressive.

Against  fairly tall UCLA team, Ohio State absolutely worked the boards, out-rebounding UCLA, 41-34. Of OSU’s 41 rebounds, 15 were offensive rebounds. This contributed to Ohio State taking 10 more shots than UCLA.

Ohio State was aware of and exploited UCLA’s indifference to transition defense. Kyle Young was the beneficiary of several “alley oop” dunks, one that spanned half court.

What Didn’t

Oddly enough, despite scoring 80 points, Ohio State’s shooting, particularly in the first half was not too good. They got away with it Saturday because UCLA is a so-so team, Against better team, the inability to keep up (scoring) will be a problem.

Ball security; woof. Again, most of their 11 turnovers, 7 to be exact, came in the first half. Again, first half lack of focus. Aaagh!

Still a good bit of work to be done.

Other…

  • Since coming back from their Finals sabbatical, Ohio State has struggled; as in, not looking very good at times. They barely beat Bucknell, pulled away late from Youngstown State, and let’s face it, this UCLA team will never be mistaken for a John Wooden team. If they ‘slow-roll’ in the first half against Michigan State, Ohio State will get their asses handed to them.
  •  Along the same lines, I think this team is really entertaining to watch, but don’t get your expectations up. This is a very narrow based, almost inverted pyramid team. When OSU gets into Conference play, if Kaleb Wesson becomes unavailable, the chances of Ohio State winning drop dramatically.
  • Enjoy the season for what it is. This is a fun team to watch and they play hard for Coach Holtmann.
  • According to teamrankings.com, the Buckeyes are projected to finish the regular season 22-9 and 12-8 in B1G play. They rank Ohio State as the 21st best team in the country and #6 in the B1G. Their chance to make the NCAA’s is 79%. 

 

Up Next

The Buckeyes host High Point University Saturday, December 29th. The game is set to tip-off at 12:00 pm ET. You can watch the game on BTN or listen to it on 97.1 The Fan. Or both.

The Panthers (6-5, 0-0) are averaging 69 points per game while allowing 69 ppg.  They average 36 rebounds and 13 turnovers per game. For comparison, the Buckeyes are scoring 77 and allowing 61 points per game. Ohio State averages 37 rebounds and 13 turnovers per game.

High Point has two players that average double figures scoring per game. They are 6’3″ G Jahaad Proctor (22.2) and  6’5″ G Brandonn Kamga (16.8). Ricky Madison , 6’7″ F,  averages 7.6 rebounds per game and Proctor averages 3.6 assists per game. Clearly, the Panther offense runs through their Guards, particularly Jahaad Proctor. 

High Point is coached by alum Tubby Smith (class of 1973), he of Kentucky, Minnesota, Memphis, etc. The other roster note: Columbus, OH (St. Francis DeSales) graduate Caden Sanchez, a 6’8″ F will be visiting his home town.

The Buckeyes then have a week off before Big Ten play picks up in earnest. By “earnest”, I mean their first game back on January 5th is against Michigan State.