(Photo courtesy http://www.toledoblade.com)
West Lafayette, IN – Are you surprised?
Without Kaleb Wesson, the Buckeye’s loss to Purdue was certainly not surprising – but by the amount is what literally has me shaking my head.
In the completely one-sided performance, the Boilermakers’ handed a whoopin’ to Chris Holtmann and the Buckeyes that was, well, rather humiliating; 86-51. Arguably, it looked like an impossible possibility from the tip-off, as Purdue’s offense was on queue from second one. But finalizing a 35-point advantage?
The Boilermakers knocked down eight threes in the first half, and Carsen Edwards put up 19 points. Meanwhile, the Buckeyes only made six shots in the first 20 minutes, appearing to be shell-shocked, or worse yet, afraid to even be there.
The Buckeyes head-coach, Chris Holtmann, found the undesirable task of looking for answers way too early – especially in the second half, electing to start walk-on Joey Lane, who was scoreless in six minutes without a shot attempt. Edwards finished with 25 points and Purdue continued to drive up its lead.
Even with the 35-point whoopin’, The Ohio State University’s Men’s basketball program was not damaged sooo much for the possibility of tournament odds. Their win against the 22nd nationally ranked Iowa should, fingers-crossed, should be enough, that is, if the Buckeyes handle Northwestern Wednesday. The suspension of Kaleb Wesson should be the motivation that he needs, as well as the Buckeyes, to get things right.
The Buckeyes struggled to find any resemblance to an offense, often passing up good shots for questionable. Jaedon LeDee scored a career-high 16 points, but was the only player to score in double figures. It was obvious that the Buckeyes are in “total” need of Kaleb. They have found this out only after being without him.
His 14.6 points and 6.7 rebounds per game isn’t a phenomenal presentation – but his impact goes so much further than the practicalities of statistics. His importance is in the focus defenses pay to him. Justin Ahrens scored a career-high 29 points against the Hawkeyes last week because he was wide open. Wesson’s ability to consistently draw two defenders led to Ahrens’ monstrous evening. Without that presence, Ahrens only took on shot in the time-frame of 20 minutes back on Saturday.
The Buckeyes’ lack of offense outside of Wesson isn’t a new event. The Boilermakers successfully exposed just how important Wesson is to the Buckeyes. The only triumph in the night was that OSU managed to keep turnovers in single digits – nine.
The three-man playmaking group of C.J. Jackson, Luther Muhammad and Keyshawn Woods combined for 13 points while missing 12 of 16 shots – this is growingly becoming the norm – I hate to acknowledge. Andre Wesson scored six points and racked up four fouls. The only solid perimeter player was Duane Washington Jr. with nine points.
Meanwhile, the Boilermakers hit 11 of 21 beyond the arc and seemed at ease in finding the shots they wanted to take. Trevion Williams, who had missed the only two threes he’s taken all season, got one to go.
Ohio State (18-11, 8-10 Big Ten) had to play without the one player other teams “must” prepare for. Purdue took sole possession of the Big Ten lead unconcerned about any other Buckeye. The result tied the most lopsided loss in Chris Holtmann’s career.
Wesson’s suspension doesn’t have an end date right now. The Northwestern game should be competitive even without him, but the “real” fear is it can be lost.
A Buckeye’ lineup without Wesson for the home finale against the Badgers of Wisconsin next weekend isn’t a cheerful possibility to ponder. But – well – its one game at a time. Northwestern MUST be taken seriously first!