Ohio State (8-3, 2-0 Big Ten) kept it close with William and Mary (6-3) for about seven minutes before bursting out on a run to end the first half. The Buckeyes never took their feet off the pedal again and drove away to a dominating 97-62 victory at the Schottenstein Center Saturday afternoon.
One of the top shooting teams in the nation, William and Mary shot just 52 percent from the field and only 31 percent from 3-point range. It was held to its fewest 3-point shot attempts on the season at just 16, and Ohio State head coach Chris Holtmann said that was a key heading into a matchup against the No. 2 3-point shooting team in the nation.
“I had this conversation with Ken Pomeroy at some point in the last three or four years about teams that shoot this volume [and then with this efficiency]. What’s really key is limiting their attempts,” Holtmann said after the game. “Now that extends you, that opens you up to slips and drives and that affects your 2-point field goal percentage a little bit, but I’ve seen those guys shoot through eight games and if we were going to allow them to shoot 28-30 3s, they’re going to make 14 or 15 of those and we’re in trouble.”
Ohio State had its best shooting day of the year, hitting a 65 percent of its shots from the field and 52 percent from 3-point range en route to its highest point total of the year. Junior forward Keita Bates-Diop led the charge for Ohio State with a career-high 27 points and five rebounds. Freshman center Kaleb Wesson also posted strong numbers in his seventh start, finishing the game with 17 points and seven rebounds.
Guard David Cohn led the Tribe in points with 15, while forward Nathan Knight and guard Connor Burchfield also registered double-digit point totals with 13 and 12, respectively.
Down by one with 12:28 remaining in the first half, Ohio State went on an 20-2 run, led by Bates-Diop’s eight points, to jump out to a commanding 39-22 lead. The Tribe had made 8-of-10 shots from the field — including 2-of-3 from 3-point range, but once leading 20-19, shots refused to fall down as it shot just 5-for-16 the rest of the half, going only 2-for-7 from beyond the arc.
William and Mary finished the half strong, however, going on an 8-2 run to bring the score to 48-32.
Holtmann said he was disappointed in the early defensive effort by his team and said that every team goes through a bit of a lull at some point in the game. But he was impressed by the way his team stayed strong defensively outside of those first eight minutes.
“I just didn’t think we were playing quite hard enough and we’ve had pockets in the game where we don’t always have the kind of effort we need to have defensively,” Holtmann said. “I’m sure most teams can say that, but we certainly and when that happens, we get really exposed. Outside of the first few minutes when we were kind of just trading baskets with them, I was pleased with that.”
Ohio State came out firing in the second half, making its first 10 field goal tries with Bates-Diop accounting for five of those makes. And while the Tribe attempted to keep the game from getting out of hand, holding Ohio State to only a 28-20 advantage in the first eight minutes of the second half, the Buckeyes went on a 14-0 run to put the game well out of reach.
Redshirt senior guard Kam Williams compared the second half of this game to the second of Ohio State’s 20-point comeback win against Michigan, another strong shooting team, in how the team improved defensively to shut down the opposing offense.
“We were always on our toes because we know they’re capable of putting a lot of points up. With their 3s,” Williams said. “We just had to make an adjustment like we did in the previous game. Put more pressure on them, clog up the lanes. Just made them feel us and it worked out for us.”
The Buckeyes have a week off before hosting Appalachian State at 6 p.m. Saturday in the Schottenstein Center.