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17-18 Season
Next Game:  March 17, 2018
vs. Gonzaga    ?:00 pm   ???
Buckeyes Dominate Knights
February 20, 2018

On a night when Buckeye fans said goodbye to four incredible graduates, the Buckeyes ran away from Rutgers, clinching a double-bye in the Big Ten tournament, winning in dominant fashion, 79-52 to move to 23-7 and 14-3 in the Big Ten. The Buckeyes said goodbye one last time in the Schottenstein Center to seniors, Andrew DakichKam WilliamsJae’Sean Tate and Keita Bates-Diop and they sent them off in style. The Buckeyes ended their two game slide keeping their hopes alive for a Big Ten title. They will need a win in Bloomington and a Wisconsin win over Michigan State on Sunday to accomplish that goal. 

The Buckeyes started the game with a senior laden lineup with Kam Williams and Andrew Dakich getting the start and early it was all Buckeyes. Williams was the man with the hot hand early, drilling 3 triples as Ohio State utilized an 11-0 run to jump out to a 30-11 lead with just 6 minutes remaining in the half and looked as if they would coast in the home finale. Rutgers, meanwhile was struggling to find any offense, hitting on just 5 of their first 20 shot attempts. The Knights, to their credit, cranked up the D and it led to offense as Rutgers finished the half on a 16-2 run to trim the lead to just 5 at the half, hitting 7 of their last 8 shot attempts leaving the big crowd in the Schottenstein Center stunned at the break. Williams led the Buckeyes with 11 first half points and Kaleb Wesson, who left the game and went to the locker room with an apparent injury just before the big Rutgers run, added 7.  

The Buckeyes came out of the locker room in the second half roaring and after a Kaleb Wesson ‘and 1’ three point play and a C.J. Jackson triple, the Buckeyes expanded the lead to 11 in a flash, forcing Rutgers to call a timeout less than 2 minutes in. Rutgers would go on an extended scoring drought and the Buckeyes made them pay building the lead to 17 with 13 minutes remaining. When Jackson hit a floater in the lane, the Buckeyes led by 21 by virtue of an 18-2 run to open the half, with 11 coming from Jackson. The Buckeyes would build the lead to as many as 28 and eventually closed out the 2017-2018 home slate with the 27-point victory. In a game dedicated to the seniors, it was the underclassmen that led the way. Jackson led the Buckeyes with 18 and Kaleb Wesson added 14. Kam Williams scored 13 in his last home game and Jae’Sean Tate added 9 points and 10 rebounds. In a rare off night for the presumptive Big Ten player of the year Keita Bates-Diop, his teammates picked up the slack and led the Buckeyes to victory.  

One game to go and a chance to win the Big Ten championship. Let that sink in for a minute. Whether that goal is accomplished or not will never diminish what this team has done this season. All of Buckeye nation should be extremely proud of this team and especially the seniors who have seen the program at its lowest point but have worked their tails off and have stayed the course and are finally able to see that hard work rewarded. Hopefully they can get the win in Bloomington and get some help from the Badgers so another banner can be hung in the Schott. It comes down to this, a win and the Buckeyes clinch at least the 2 seed in New York. With a win and a Spartan loss, they sit as the 1. Either way, they can finish no worse than 3rd which is an incredible feat. 

The Buckeyes close out the regular season with a road tilt at Indiana on Friday night. Tip time for that game is set for 8 pm on FS1.

 - Jason Harris​​ 
Jackson Triple Caps Double Overtime Win Over Indiana
February 23, 2018

The Buckeyes needed a victory in Bloomington to stay in the hunt for a conference title. It took two overtimes, but a C.J Jackson three with 1.7 seconds secured the 80-78 victory for Ohio State. Previously this year the only other overtime game for OSU was a loss to Butler. You could not have asked for a closer game as it was tied at the half, at the end of regulation, the end of the first OT, and it took a last second bucket to separate the two teams in the second extra period. Indiana ends the regular season with a record of 16-14, and 9-9 in the Big Ten, it will take a B1G tournament crown to get them in the big dance.  Ohio State sits at 24-7 overall, 15-3 in conference play and should be no worse than a 4 seed on your March Madness brackets.  

It did not look like this would be such a close game part way through the first half. The team teams battled back and forth for the first few minutes of the game but Ohio State enjoyed a stretch where they scored 9 unanswered points and took a 26-14. A Cam Williams lay-up forced Indiana coach Archie Miller to call a time out. But the stoppage must have worked as the rest of the half, the Hoosiers outscored the Bucks 19-7 to lock things up 33-33 at the half.​

Ohio State tried to separate themselves to start the half and managed to have a 7 point lead after a Jae'Sean Tate basket at the 16:05 mark but that was the biggest lead they would enjoy the rest of the game. Indiana bounced back to tie it 48-48 and it was very tight the rest of the way. With the score tied 63-63 with 22 seconds remaining, Indiana had the ball for a final shot opportunity. But Robert Johnson missed a shot with 3 seconds remaining which sent to the game into the first overtime. Kaleb Wesson had 5 of OSU's 7 points in the first OT, but he Indiana had 7 points as well which set up the dramatic second overtime.

In the second overtime, Indiana did not seem as sharp, they may have been feeling the fatigue of the moment rather than the adrenaline. Keita Bates-Diop, who lead all scoring with 24, and Tate took over for the Buckeyes and had them positioned to win with a 77-76 lead and the ball with under a minute to play. Andrew Dakich lost the ball with 16 second breathing some life for the Hoosiers. Their star Juwan Morgan had one more big play in him scoring under the bucket with 0:07 left on the clock, giving the home team a 78-77 lead. Without any time-outs, C.J. Jackson took the ball across mid court and without hesitation fired a long three, even by NBA standards, which found the bottom of the net with :01.7 showing on the clock. Indiana had no response and the game came to a close.

The win was great, but the one glaring separation for these two teams tonight was Ohio State only managed 4 points off the bench while the Hoosiers enjoyed 32 points from their subs. Perhaps it was not part of Holtmann's game plan but we do need to get more production from Andre Wesson, Micah Potter and Andrew Dakich.

While I enjoy the win, it is hard for me to watch the game and not comment on the officiating. Once again, it appeared there was a lot of ticky-tack fouls called on the Buckeyes and their opponents were getting away with a lot of aggressive contact without penalty. This match-up included several fouls on Ohio State away from the ball.  Even Len Elmore, made note of it on several occasions. OSU had the Wesson brothers foul out and Jae'Sean Tate played most of the second half and overtime periods in foul trouble. Maybe it is nothing and I am looking through scarlet tinted glasses but Buckeyes were called for 21 fouls compared to only 13 for Indiana. 13 fouls in 50 minutes of play?  Really? It did not cost them this game but I look forward to seeing their games in the tournament with non-Big Ten officials.

The Buckeyes will now wait to see how the rest of the Big Ten finishes but they do have until next Friday to rest as they have secured a bye for the first two rounds. If Wisconsin can upset Michigan State in Madison, OSU will get a share of the conference crown and secure the #1 seed for the Big Ten tournament. If the Spartans win, Ohio State will settle for the #2 seed and face the winner of the 7/10 match-up. Four teams are still in play for those slots but one of them is Penn State.  Wouldn't it be nice to get to see the Lions one more time this season with a chance redeem the two losses during the regular season?

 - Gregg Watson​​ 
Holtmann,  Bates-Diop, Mitchell Receive Honors
February 26, 2018

What a difference a year makes. Last year the Buckeyes lost to the bottom seed in the Big Ten tournament. This year they will be the #2 seed going into Madison Square Garden. Much of that had to do with the new coach, and a healthy senior. Today the success of the team was rewarded as the conference announced the conference post season awards.  Leading the way was first year Coach Holtmann who was named Coach of the Year and Keita Bates-Diop earned Player of the Year.

In addition, three players were included in the Al-Big Ten selections. Bates-Diop was unanimous choice on First Team, Jae'Sean Tate was selected 2nd Team and Kaleb Wesson earned a spot on the All-Freshman team, and Andrew Dakich was included on the list of Sportsmanship honorees.

It was complete sweep for the Buckeyes as Kelsey Mitchell was named Player of the Year for the women's team.
Ohio State Basketball – Regular Season in Review
February 27, 2018

The Ohio State men’s basketball team is coming off one of the more surprise season’s in recent memory, finishing the regular season 24-7 and 15-3 in the Big Ten conference, good for a runner up finish. Led by the conference’s player of the year in Keita Bates-Diop and the conference’s coach of the year, Chris Holtmann, the Buckeyes exceeded by leaps and bounds any of the so-called experts preseason expectations. While I felt they were a bit better than what most of the national media predicted them to be, my 10-8 conference prediction was still not giving them enough credit. The Buckeyes had all the elements that make teams successful through the long grind of a regular season. First, they had a veteran team, led by the grinder, Jae’Sean Tate. They had a big body in the middle in freshman, Kaleb Wesson and they had shooters and capable defenders on the perimeter. Where they severely lacked was in the point guard position and a combination of Tate, C.J. Jackson and the overwhelmingly surprising Andrew Dakich filled that role admirably. The return of the long, rangy and athletic Bates-Diop was the ribbon around the package of a team about to make history. On top of all of that, they had an unwavering chemistry about them. They seemed to all really like each other and the newly hired leader, Chris Holtmann and his staff recognized that quickly after his hire in June.  

So how did this all come together? To understand that we need to take a stroll back memory lane to where the program was. The date was March 8th, 2017, the 11th seed Buckeyes were walking off the floor at the Big Ten Tournament in Washington D.C., falling on the tournament’s first day to lowly 14 seed Rutgers in what many considered the low point of the legendary Coach Thad Matta’s illustrious Buckeye career. Just a few days later, the NIT passed on the Buckeyes, leaving them without any postseason and sending the Buckeyes home staring at their 17-15 record wondering where the program stood and where it was going. It didn’t get much better in the spring when prized recruit, Darius Bazely from Cincinnati decided he would de-commit from the Buckeyes citing his desire to have a “bigger stage”. It was a harsh reality that the program had to face due to its lack of recent success. Then, it was found out that point guard JaQuan Lyle left the team long before his arrest in Illinois for public intoxication in May. It was becoming clear that the program was in a state of disarray and that there wasn’t any light at the end of the tunnel. 

Fast forward to June 5th when Athletic Director Gene Smith announced that Ohio State and the winningest coach in program history, Thad Matta, would part ways. It was a tough decision and one that wasn’t come to easily but Gene Smith strongly felt it was the right thing for the program. So the Buckeyes coaching search began and just four days later, they had their man. Chris Holtmann was hired as the 14th head basketball coach in Ohio State history, leaving Butler to take the helm in Columbus. Despite being assured by Smith and the powers that be that the leash would be long, he immediately reached out to his veteran leaders, Tate, Bates-Diop and Kam Williams and assured them that this would not be a throw away year and that he wanted to make their final year in Columbus a memorable one but he needed their leadership and buy in to make it happen. And boy did they buy in and in a big way. It had been a tumultuous career of ups and downs for the seniors with just one tournament appearance and no better than a 6th place finish in the Big Ten and that was back in 2014-15. The motivation was there and the buy in was there but there were still questions on the court.

Shortly after Holtmann’s hire, highly recruited point guard Braxton Beverly decided he wanted to play elsewhere and Holtmann also had to remove redshirt freshman Derek Funderburk from the roster for failing to live up to his obligations as a student athlete. Those departures left the Buckeyes scrambling for scholarship players. Enter Andrew Dakich, a graduate transfer from of all places, Michigan, where he was a little used walk on and was planning to play his final year at Quinnipiac. Coach Holtmann also went to work on the recruiting trail, flipping a once Butler commit, Kyle Young from Massillon to Ohio State and gaining a commit from Bloomington, Indiana native Musa Jallow, who would subsequently re-classify to the 2017 class, making him eligible to contribute immediately. But how would it all come together? The Buckeyes now had a roster with some talent, but unproven talent and veterans who hadn’t tasted much success at the college level.

The season started well enough and as expected with four straight wins against less than stellar competition. Then, Ohio State would head west to the PK 80 Invitational on Thanksgiving night where a little dose of reality hit, playing a talented Gonzaga team who handed it to the Buckeyes as most expected. A hard fought win in game two of the tournament over Stanford set up a matchup against Holtmann’s former team, the Butler Bulldogs. Surprisingly the Buckeyes jumped all over the Bulldogs and led by 15 with 5 minutes remaining and looked to coast to the finish line with a very successful 2-1 trip to Oregon. The Bulldogs had other ideas and cranked up the pressure and exposed the Buckeyes’ lack of ball handlers, roaring back to send it to overtime and ultimately the win. The Buckeyes would limp back to Columbus and on a short turnaround would host Clemson in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge. It was yet another opportunity to for the Buckeyes to get a good preseason win. The game went the Buckeyes way for the first half and early in the second as Ohio State built a double digit lead. Unfortunately they Buckeyes lost their legs in the second half and Clemson was able to get the road victory, sending Ohio State to their 3rd loss in 4 games and a 5-3 mark to start the season. This wasn’t an entirely unexpected result for a team not expecting much this year by most outside the program. This wasn’t acceptable to those within the 4 walls of the locker room. They were an eyelash from 7-1 and to a man, felt their best basketball was ahead of them.  

Due to the compressed Big Ten schedule this season, the Buckeyes and other Big Ten schools were forced to play a pair of early conference games and Ohio State’s opener would be the always difficult trip to Madison, Wisconsin. The Buckeyes would go into Madison and hand the Badgers their worst ever defeat in the Kohl Center, 83-58, and Ohio State was feeling pretty good about themselves, but knew their rival, Michigan was coming to town with a very talented team just two days later. The Wolverines exploded out to a 20 point lead late in the first half, before the Buckeyes finished the half on a 7-0 run to cut the deficit to 13. The second half, the Buckeyes roared out to a 19-3 run taking control of the game and pulling away late to start the conference season 2-0. 

Another 3 games against mid major opponents allowed them to gain a little momentum before heading to New Orleans for a matchup against the defending National Champion North Carolina Tarheels in the CBS Sports classic. The Tarheels took control in the first half while Keita Bates-Diop was on the bench after picking up 2 quick fouls. The Buckeyes would claw back and made it game but the Tarheels would be just a bit too much, pulling away late for the 14 point win. Although it was a loss, the Buckeyes saw something in themselves that gave them the confidence that they could play with one of the better teams in college basketball encouragement moving forward. They finished off non-conference play with a lackluster performance against Miami University, but nonetheless a victory and the Buckeyes sat 11-4 and 2-0 in conference play but knowing what was ahead in the New Year tempered most observer’s enthusiasm.

The New Year started well with a win at a struggling Iowa team but then the win nobody expected. The #1 ranked Michigan State Spartans came to Columbus boasting player of the year candidates and McDonalds All Americans but the Buckeyes would not waver, putting the proverbial smack down on the Spartans, for a 16 point win, led by the ever emerging Bates-Diop’s career high 32 points and established the Buckeyes as a true contender in the Big Ten conference. The wins kept coming for the Buckeyes and before they knew it, they were sitting at 9-0in the Big Ten Conference and the nation was beginning to take notice, ranking the Buckeyes as high as 8th in the AP poll. That’s when the compressed schedule may have started taking its toll on Ohio State. With Penn State coming to town on January 25th, it would be the 4th game in 8 days for the first place Buckeyes. Penn State’s athleticism got the best of Ohio State for much of the game as the Buckeyes looked a step slow. However a furious rally late, capped by a Bates-Diop triple with just seconds remaining tied the game and it looked as if Ohio State had found a second life. The Lions would scramble to ball up the floor and Tony Carr released from 30 feet and banked in a long 3 to dash Ohio State’s hopes of moving to 10-0.  

The loss, while devastating, did not deter this veteran laden club who had now established leadership from the always hard working Tate and Bates-Diop who led by example but the most unlikely spot in grad transfer Andrew Dakich who was playing 22 minutes a game, running the point and providing a spark defensively that this team needed. A pair of home wins would follow before the big one in West Lafayette against what looked like an unstoppable 3rd ranked Purdue team who was in control of the Big Ten conference, riding a 19 game winning streak and hadn’t lost a home game for over a year. For much of the game, we got what we expected and the Boilers led by 14 with just 10 minutes remaining. But the tough minded Buckeyes would not go away and kept chipping at the lead in front of a frantic crowd at Mackey Arena. Then, the unthinkable happened as Bates-Diop who’s performance may have cemented himself as the conference’s player of the year, scored the game winner with under 3 seconds remaining and the Buckeyes now sat in first place in the Big Ten and controlled their destiny to a conference crown. 

A dominant win over Iowa on February 10thset up the home stretch of basketball and to the amazement of everyone, including their head coach, the Buckeyes were a full game up on the rest of the conference with 5 games remaining. The final stretch was probably their most challenging of the conference season with road tilts at Penn State and Michigan and a season ender at the always difficult Indiana Hoosiers in Bloomington. The stretch didn’t start well with the Buckeyes getting their hat handed to them in State College from start to finish but they still clung to their Big Ten hopes, now tied with Michigan State with 3 games remaining. A trip to Ann Arbor on national TV was played to a sold out crowd in what was termed at Michigan as a “Maize Out”, made for a difficult environment and one the Buckeyes could not escape despite a valiant effort. They had not only lost to their arch rival, they now needed to win out and get a little help to gain the conference crown. They came back home on senior night and in dominant fashion, dispatched Rutgers, sending off Tate, Williams, Dakich and potentially Bates-Diop in resounding fashion. That set up the finale at Assembly Hall in Bloomington. The game went back and forth with the Buckeyes clinging to the lead for the majority of the evening. The Hoosiers were determined on their own senior night and battled the game to double overtime. Indiana scored a late bucket in the second overtime to take a 1 point lead with just seconds remaining and both teams out of timeouts. That’s when the cardiac kids went to work. C.J. Jackson raced up the floor and with Bates-Diop on his left, took it upon himself to end the season in style. Jackson pulled up from well beyond the arc and drilled the triple with under 2 seconds remaining, stunning the Hoosier faithful and spurring a wild celebration of Buckeyes on the floor. It was a dramatic and fitting finish to an improbable season. One in which they would ultimately finish in 2nd place in the Big Ten conference and a potential top 5 seed in the upcoming NCAA tournament.  

With that kind of success, naturally comes the post-season awards and the Buckeyes were not lacking in that department. As mentioned previously, Chris Holtmann, to nobody’s surprise was named the Big Ten Coach of the year, while Keita Bates-Diop became the first Buckeye since Evan Turner in 2010 to win the conference player of the year. Bates-Diop also was a unanimous choice to the conference first team, while Jae’Sean Tate appeared on the coaches’ second team. Kaleb Wesson was also named to the Big Ten All-Freshman team. So, team 119, as they refer to themselves, will forever go down in history as one of the most surprising stories in Ohio State and college basketball history. The effort and determination of a group of guys who seemed to genuinely care about one another, who bought into a new head coach, who played as a team as evidenced by the way they shared the basketball, and played the game the right way is something to be admired. They aren’t always the more talented team on the floor, but they played with a level of toughness and grit that more talented teams don’t always bring on a game by game basis. They may lose, but they won’t get out worked. That was their mantra from day 1 and it paid off and then some. There is still more basketball to be played and no one knows how the season will ultimately end, but regardless of what happens next, this team will be forever remembered by how they played and the character of the guys who took the floor each time out. For now, the focus is Madison Square Garden in New York City for the Big Ten tournament, where the Buckeyes will tip on Friday as the 2 seed and the double-bye, the first double-bye this program has had since the Big Ten expanded to 14. They will get much needed rest this week before taking the floor against either Northwestern or a potential revenge game against Penn State. It’s the win or go home time of year and here’s to hoping these guys can play awhile longer because they have been a lot of fun to watch. After the Big Ten tournament, they will await their fate for the NCAA tournament where they will make an appearance for the first time since 2015. So no matter what happens going forward, a big and hearty thank you to Jae’Sean Tate, Kam Williams, Keita Bates-Diop, and Andrew Dakich and their teammates for a job well done. Thanks for the memories fellas and here’s to hoping you can create a few more.

 - Jason Harris​​ 
Buckeyes Fall Late, Bow out of Big Ten Tournament
March 2, 2018

Ohio State fell in their first game for the second straight season, this time with a little help from the men in stripes, losing a late lead and falling for the third time this season to Penn State, 69-68.  Keita Bates-Diop led Ohio State with 25, while Kam Williams and Jae’Sean Tate added 10 each.

The Buckeyes jumped out to a quick 4-point lead early but Penn State took control. The Lions would score the next 12 points to lead by 8 before the Buckeyes answered. Ohio State would utilize a 20-6 run to get a 6-point lead after a turnover and lay in from Andrew Dakich, forcing Nittany Lion coach Pat Chambers to call timeout at the 6:29 mark. The Lions would respond, tying the game at 28 apiece heading into the last media timeout and although Ohio State had an opportunity to take a lead to the locker room on the last possession, Keita Bates-Diop’s jumper from the left baseline fell off the mark and the Lions led by a point after 20 minutes. The key to the first half lead for Penn State was a huge 14-3 advantage in second chance points. Penn State, playing without starting center, Mike Watkins, was the surprising aggressor on the offensive glass and in 50/50 balls in the first half, which was the major factor they held the slim margin at the half. The Buckeyes were led by Bates-Diop’s 8 and Jae’Sean Tate’s 7, while all 8 Buckeyes that played scored. The Lions were essentially a two-man show, with Tony Carr leading all scorers with 14 and Lamar Stephens added 12 in the first half of basketball. 

Ohio State got a lead out of the gate in the second half after Tate completed an old-fashioned 3-point play, but a quick 7-0 Penn State run gave the Lions a 5-point cushion.  C.J. Jackson answered that mini spurt with a pair of FT’s to cut the lead back to 3, but Penn State would bounce back out to another 5-0 spurt and the Buckeyes faced their largest deficit of the night at 8. The Buckeyes would fight back to tie it with 10:30 to go and the teams heading to the benches for the media timeout. The teams would go back and forth for much of the next several minutes before an Andre Wesson lay in gave the Buckeyes a 2-point cushion heading into the final media timeout and Bates-Diop heading to the stripe. A miss of the front end of the 1 and 1 was followed by a stop at the other end and when Bates-Diop hit a jumper from the right wing, Ohio State led by 4. A bucket each way and the Buckeyes led by 2 possessions with under 2 minutes remaining. Penn State’s Tony Carr drew a phantom foul from Bates-Diop and split the pair of FT’s and the Buckeyes still led by 3. Penn State would get a stop defensively and on the other end, what looked like a charge was ruled a block on Dakich and the Lions bagged both free throws to cut the lead to 1. Ohio State called timeout with just under 41.5 seconds remaining, but coming out of the timeout; Bates-Diop dribbled at the top of the key and lost the handle giving Penn State a chance. On the ensuing possession, Carr found Julian more wide open in the lane and with 3 seconds remaining, he threw it down, giving Penn State the lead. After each team called a timeout, Jackson raced it up the floor, but there would be no heroics as his deep fader fell well off the mark and the Buckeyes were left stunned.

So, the Buckeyes head into the NCAA tournament with the opposite of momentum. They will now sit and wait nearly 2 full weeks before taking the floor again and will need to regroup. Since the big win at Purdue, this team has faded and faded fast. To be fair, this game was taken away a touch with some of the officiating but that can’t be an excuse. Good teams find a way to win this type of game and they did not. Have we seen the best of Ohio State? Quite possibly. They will get a chance to continue playing in the NCAA tournament, but for how long is on them. This has certainly been a surprise season but success breeds new expectations and a quarterfinal loss to Penn State in the Big Ten tournament falls well short of those expectations. The new season begins in two weeks. Until then we wait.

Ohio State will next take the floor in the NCAA tournament on either March 15th or 16th, opponent, location and time to be determined.  

 - Jason Harris​​ 

Buckeyes Advance to Round of 32, Top Jackrabbits
March 15, 2018

Ohio State got all it could handle from the pesky South Dakota State Jackrabbits, but ultimately prevailed by a final score of 81-73. In a tie game with just under 2 minutes remaining, Kam Williams drilled a triple from the right wing while being fouled and calmly buried the free throw to give the Buckeyes a 4-point lead and South Dakota State could not get any closer as Ohio State advances to the round of 32. The win also gives them an opportunity at a rematch against a Gonzaga team that beat Ohio State way back on late Thanksgiving night in Portland, Oregon, for a trip to the sweet 16.  

The first half was hotly contested early as the Jackrabbits got out to an early 4 point lead but Ohio State would answer with an 8-0 run and went into the under 12 media timeout with a 4 point lead of their own. Utilizing length and athleticism on both ends of floor, and 3 straight forced turnovers by Andrew Dakich, the Buckeyes were able to extend the lead to 9 after a three by Keita Bates-Diop off a steal by Dakich, forcing South Dakota State to call a timeout with just under 5 minutes to go in the first half. Back to back 3’s from the Jackrabbits cut the Buckeye lead to just 3 out of the timeout forcing Chris Holtmann to call a timeout to calm his team down. The teams would ultimately go into the break deadlocked at 43 with the main men on both sides leading the way. Bates-Diop led Ohio State with 17 and Mike Daum led South Dakota State with 17 as well. The Jackrabbits hit 9 of 16 from deep in the first 20 minutes but the story was the Buckeyes, who attempted 24 3’s in the first half, hitting 9. The 24 attempts exceeded their total attempts in 28 games this season.  

The game went back and forth early in the 2nd half and a key moment early as Jae’Sean Tate picked up his 4th personal foul just 4 minutes into the half and had to go to the bench. With the Buckeyes utilizing a small lineup for the majority of the game, they would have to count on Andre Wesson to pick up the slack defensively and he answered the bell. Led by C.J. Jackson and Kam Williams, the Buckeyes went on a 16-0 run midway through the half, gaining a 13 point lead and seemingly had control of the game. A triple from the Jackrabbits would end the run and cut the advantage to 10 and South Dakota State would not go away. A banked in three from the top and a Daum triple in transition was part of a 14-4 run that had the Jackrabbits believing with the Buckeye lead cut to just 2. Not long after, Tate picked up his 5th personal and South Dakota State had all of the momentum. After a pair of free throws tied the game with just under 2 minutes remaining, the play of the game took place with the big 4 point play from Kam Williams. After a Jackrabbit missed 3, Williams rose from the top of the key and was fouled. He calmly nailed all 3 free throws to give the Buckeyes a 7 point lead and it was all but over. Bates-Diop led the Buckeyes with 24 points and 12 boards, while C.J. Jackson added 20 points, 9 rebounds and 5 assists. Kam Williams also came up big, scoring 22 points and pulling down 5 rebounds of his own. The Buckeyes took a season high 40 3’s, hitting 12 and outscoring South Dakota State 18-2 on fast break points.

The game plan in this one forced Ohio State to play small for much of the game which limited Kaleb Wesson’s minutes, and the quickness bothered South Dakota State and kept them out of sync for much of the game. The small lineup forced 13 turnovers, many of which turned into fast break opportunities for the Buckeyes and they took advantage. The Jackrabbits forced Ohio State to the perimeter where they struggled to get much of any rhythm in the half court but they made enough plays when they needed to in order to survive and advance. Look for a different game plan against Gonzaga, who struggled to survive an upset bid by UNC-Greensboro prior to the Buckeye game. If they can take care of the basketball and execute in the half court, they have a chance to get to the sweet 16. In order to do so, they need Tate to stay on the floor and not commit silly fouls. We’ve said it before, but who would’ve thought this year’s Buckeye team would be on the doorstep of the sweet 16? Only the defending National runner-up stands in their way. A tall task indeed, but these guys have surprised us all year, who’s to say they can’t do it again.

Ohio State will face Gonzaga on Saturday in Boise for the right to go to the sweet 16. Tip time TBD.

 - Jason Harris​​