There have been talks about senior guard C.J. Jackson all throughout the summer.
Jackson, who was No. 2 on Ohio State in points per game a season ago, has been seen as a leader for a team attempting to move on from the likes of Keita Bates-Diop and Jae’Sean Tate.
On Sunday, Jackson proved his potential to be that guy.
In the 107-61 victory against Purdue-Fort Wayne, Jackson had team highs with 25 points and five assists, while also finishing second on the team with six rebounds.
The 25 points was also Jackson’s career high.
Jackson said it was his teammates around him that allowed him to have the breakout performance.
“My teammates just found me in the right spots tonight, and credit to them, just finding me and looking for me as I kind of got rolling a little bit,” Jackson said. “Once you see it finally go in, the confidence level goes up.”
Though the Buckeyes ended up winning by 45, they only led by seven after the first half.
The lead remained seven two minutes into the second half. That’s when Jackson took over.
Already leading the team with 12 first-half points, the senior guard hit three three pointers within 66 seconds, all in succession for Ohio State, putting the team up 52-38 on his self-created 9-2 run.
The Buckeyes outscored Purdue-Fort Wayne 55-23 from that point forward.
Ohio State head coach Chris Holtmann said Jackson just took what the defense was giving him.
“C.J. can get more happy with the three probably at times than I want him to, but they were going under a lot of ball screens today, and he’s worked on that part of his game,” Holtmann said.
Jackson shot 72.2 percent on the day and made 4-of-7 from behind the arc. In the 2017-18 season, Jackson hit on 41.6 percent of his shots, and 37.9 percent of his three pointers.
“The coaches stayed on me all summer, and that’s kind of where it started, right after the season ended we got straight to work,” Jackson said. “Once you get to this moment, it’s kind of like you’ve already been through it, so you just perform what you did all summer and all preseason.”
Through two games, Ohio State has proven nothing about its style of play.
The Buckeyes smothered Cincinnati defensively, holding them to less than 30 percent shooting and earning the low-scoring victory. On Saturday, they put up more than 100 points in the rout of the Mastodons.
But in both games, it was Jackson who came up big when the team needed it.
Though he only shot 3-for-10 against the Bearcats, one of those three baskets was a layup with 29 seconds remaining to put Ohio State up six. He then hit the last two free throws to officially seal the win.
Against Purdue-Fort Wayne, Jackson played a complete game, looking like the best player on the court and finishing with the No. 2 plus-minus on the team.
Holtmann said he liked what Jackson did on the defensive side as well, but that his team still has places to improve.
Jackson said his performance only matters if it comes in an Ohio State victory.
“As far as the win, that’s pretty much the only thing,” Jackson said. “We know we have to win to be successful, especially with the tough schedule that we have, so that’s kind of the only thing that I’m concerned with at this point.”