Kaleb Wesson has played an important role for Ohio State through the first 11 games of the season.
The sophomore forward is averaging 16.5 points per game, scoring a career-high 31 points against Youngstown State on Tuesday. He is averaging 6.6 rebounds per game, recording 10 boards on Dec. 15, his first career double-double.
For opponents like UCLA, Wesson is someone to plan the team’s defense around, which the Bruins did, showing a 2-3 zone for the majority of its contest against the Buckeyes, something Ohio State struggled with against Syracuse, its only loss of the season on Nov. 28.
After struggling with the zone in the first half, shooting 36.1 percent from the field, Ohio State showed a faster pace in the second half, scoring 47 points and shooting 48.4 percent from the field to secure, a 80-66 win against UCLA, the Buckeyes’ 11th win in 12 games.
Wesson had something extra to focus on: 7-foot-1 freshman center Moses Brown, who averages 9.4 rebounds per game, recording three games of at least 10 rebounds in the first 11 games of his collegiate career.
Wesson won the matchup down low, recording six rebounds, including four offensive boards, in the first half, outrebounding Brown, who had one in the first half. Wesson finished with a career-high 12 boards, recording eight offensive rebounds while Brown had two rebounds.
The sophomore forward also had 15 points, shooting 45.4 percent from the field in 27 minutes after fouling out late in the second half, giving Wesson his second double-double of his career and second in the past three games.
With Wesson focused on Brown, the rest of the Ohio State defense stepped up, forcing 12 turnovers in the first half, recording nine points off turnovers despite allowing the Bruins to shoot 48.3 percent from the field.
But the Bruins struggled from deep in the second half, connecting on two of nine from 3, giving Ohio State the 14-point victory.
Offensively, Ohio State struggled to find a consistency from the floor early, making only five of its first 24 shot attempts.
Ohio State connected on six of their final 12 attempts from the field, ending the half with a 33-30 lead after freshman guard Luther Muhammad connected on a jumper with 29 seconds left.
Much like the Ohio State offense as a whole, senior guard C.J. Jackson struggled in the first half, making only one of his five attempts from the field with two points.
And like the Ohio State offense in the second half, Jackson heated up, making 6-of-11 attempts from the field, ending the day as the Buckeyes’ leading scorer with 20 points.
Jackson also finished with seven rebounds and six assists.
The Buckeye offense found some holes in the Bruins’ zone early in the second half, running a quick offense and finding open layups for both sophomore forward Kyle Young and redshirt senior guard Keyshawn Woods, who earned his third start of the year while Young came off the bench.
Junior forward Andre Wesson stepped to his right after a UCLA defender outran him on an attempt to defend the fastbreak Ohio State offense, hitting an open 3 to give the Buckeyes a nine-point lead.
With 6:12 left in the game, Woods lobbed the ball up to Young from behind the half-court line, finishing with the dunk and giving Ohio State a double-digit lead, a lead that would remain for the rest of the game.
While Jackson heated up, UCLA sophomore guard Kris Wilkes, who had 13 points in the first half, scored five points in the second, connecting on 7-of-18 attempts overall from the field.
Ohio State will return to Columbus on Dec. 29 to take on High Point at 12 p.m.