Early on against Jackson State, the Ohio State men’s basketball team looked to be hitting a bit of a slump. After jumping out to an early lead, OSU found itself trailing after back-to-back 3-pointers from the Tigers. The six-point lead by Jackson State would be its largest lead of the contest, as the Buckeyes came roaring back with a pair of 3-pointers from redshirt junior guard Kam Williams and freshman forward Andre Wesson.
From there, the Buckeyes seemingly cruised to a 78-47 victory over Jackson State. It wasn’t quite the 85-41 drubbing OSU gave to the Tigers last time the two teams met in 2011, but it sent fans home happy. Led by Williams in the first half with 12 points, and a healthy dose of assists from sophomore guard JaQuan Lyle, OSU improved to 5-0 this season, with four of those five wins at home.
The win came without the help of junior forward Keita Bates-Diop, who sat out for the second straight week with a sprained ankle.
For the third week in a row, Lyle was instrumental to the team’s win, finishing with a team best 11 assists, and even adding 10 points. It’s the first time this season he has picked up a double-double.
“Basketball isn’t always scoring the ball,” he said.
In the first half, Lyle played the role of distributor, racking up eight assists. Two of his first half assists came by way of thunderous alley-oops to redshirt junior center Trevor Thompson. Lyle hit Thompson on back-to-back possessions in midair, while the 7-foot center jammed home the finish both times.
Jackson State struggled in the first half, going just 1-for-10 to close out the initial period. The Buckeyes, on the other hand, picked up five makes on their last six attempts. Overall, the Tigers’ finished the night shooting just 29.5 percent, while OSU set a 55.3 percent mark.
The Tigers’ were led by redshirt junior guard Paris Collins. The Texas native finished the game with 19 points and 11 rebounds, all topping his season averages.
OSU’s top-scorer, senior forward Marc Loving, poured in three 3-point shots. After picking up just six points against Western Carolina in OSU’s last game, Loving was able to find a groove and find the basket on multiple occasions for 19 points.
“Here’s the thing, Marc is — I know 19 points, but he’s doing a real good job defending,” said OSU coach Thad Matta. “We got to keep building on that. But it was good to see a couple shots go down for him. I thought he had good leg drive on the shots and even the ones he missed were good shots, so hopefully we can continue to build on that. We need him playing well, there’s no question.”
It was a season-high for Loving, who had been struggling with his shot in the team’s first few games. Clearly in a good mood following the win, he and Lyle were joking with the media. When asked what was different in tonight’s performance, Loving smiled and cracked a joke.
“The ball went in. That’s pretty much it,” he said.
The second half was far from perfect for OSU, as the Buckeyes shot under 30 percent in the first 10 minutes of the second period. However, defensive pressure helped keep the lead in favor of the Scarlet and Gray. OSU forced 20 turnovers, and allowed just nine assists by Jackson State.
Jackson State falls to 1-4 this season and will return home to face Western Carolina on Saturday. OSU remains at home and will face Marshall on Friday. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m.