C.J. Jackson has never been known as a three-point shooter.
The senior guard averaged just under two makes per game on five attempts, making 37.9 percent of attempts from deep in the 2017-18 season.
But he had the hot hand against Purdue Fort Wayne. After connecting on one of four three-point attempts in the first half, Jackson connected on his next three attempts in the second half, leading Ohio State to a 107-59 victory over the Mastodons on Sunday.
Jackson recorded a career high 25 points, making eight of 11 attempts from the field, including four of seven from three-point range.
Jackson helped Ohio State score 66 points in the second half, shooting 64.3 percent from the field and making 11 of 18 from deep.
The senior guard said there was a difference in approach for Ohio State after coming out sluggish in the first half.
“We just weren’t making smart decisions defensively and that kind of led to bad offense. We got a couple of silly turnovers like myself in the first half and that kind of slowed us down a little bit, we weren’t making as many shots,” Jackson said. “Then we started being a little bit smarter with the ball, knocking down those same shots that we were taking earlier.”
But Duane Washington Jr. began the transition into the Buckeyes’ offensive outburst late in the first half.
With Ohio State leading 34-31 with 1:36 to go in the half, the freshman guard came in, hit a three, giving the offense some late life. The Mastodons got the ball back and immediately turned the ball over after a traveling call.
Washington got the ball back. With a hot hand the freshman, from the top of the key, sunk another three, immediately turning around, shooting an imaginary bow and arrow into the stands after helping Ohio State to a 41-34 halftime lead.
“Without Duane’s two threes there late in the first half, it’s a tie game, probably, or right there, it’s a one-possession game,” Holtmann said. “His two threes were really critical for us in that stretch. Just kind of broke open, gave us a little bit of life.”
Washington finished the game with 20 points, making six of nine shots from three.
In the first half, the Buckeyes shot 57.1 percent from the field, making four of 10 from deep and five of eight from the free throw line.
With the offensive success, the primary focus for head coach Chris Holtmann’s team stayed the same. The Buckeyes limited Purdue Fort Wayne to shoot 37.2 percent from the field in the first half, making six of 17 attempts from three.
Size brought the Mastodons to within striking distance at the end of the first half. Purdue Fort Wayne out-rebounded Ohio State 20-18, but recorded seven offensive boards compared to the Buckeyes’ one, scoring seven second chance points in the first half.
Overall, the Buckeyes recorded 39 rebounds to Purdue Fort Wayne’s 30, but Holtmann still said, with the amount of opportunities missed in the paint, it needs to be viewed as a priority.
“I thought we got beat to a lot of loose balls, a lot of long rebounds and, again, I have to obviously do a better job of making that a priority for us because we got beat too many times, we really did,” Holtmann said.
The defense that Ohio State showed against Cincinnati came back in a big way against the Mastodons in the second half, as Purdue Fort Wayne recorded 27 points, shooting 30 percent from the field
Ohio State freshman guard Luther Muhammad took advantage of the lack of success from the Mastodons, hitting a three and igniting a 19-2 run for the Buckeyes, extending their lead to 30 with 8:22 left in the game.
The Buckeyes made 15 of 28 three-point attempts against the Mastodons on Sunday. Holtmann said 28 attempts is a very high number, but said he knows his team will shoot more than it did last year.
Jackson said this was a showcase of what the Ohio State offense could be in future games this year.
“We know we can shoot,” Jackson said. “We shot the ball very well, especially in the second half and so we just have to look to build off of that and prepare for Creighton Thursday.”
Spreading the ball around was a focus for the Buckeyes, recording the same amount of assists 14 minutes into the game than the seven assists recorded against Cincinnati in the season opener. Ohio State recorded 21 assists, with Jackson leading the team with five.
In his first collegiate minutes, freshman forward Jaedon LeDee scored 16 points, making 12 of 14 attempts from the free throw line.
After the game, Purdue Fort Wayne head coach Jon Coffman was very impressed with the play of the Ohio State defense, sensing a cohesion within the unit that he said will lead to a lot of success.
“Well, you guys are going to enjoy some good basketball this year,” Coffman said “You play that kind of defense, and I know it’s only a couple of games in, you are going to have a lot of success.”
Ohio State travels to Omaha, Nebraska to take on Creighton on Thursday at 7 p.m.