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Men’s Basketball: No. 15 Ohio State handles Youngstown State 75-56 despite cold start

Ohio State Chris Holtmann talks to his team during the Syracuse game on Nov. 28 at the Schottenstein Center. Ohio State lost to Syracuse 72-62. Credit: Amal Saeed | Assistant Photo Editor

Facing the second-worst team on Ohio State’s schedule in a Schottenstein Center that was nowhere near capacity, it appeared everyone was looking over the Buckeyes’ matchup against Youngstown State.

Apparently, so was Ohio State.

After falling behind 14-2 to start the game, the Buckeyes failed to get anything going for the first 20 minutes, trailing the Penguins 25-22 after a first half that saw Ohio State shoot 24.1 percent from the field and not make a 3 until the end of the first half.

It took a comeback in the second half against the No. 322 team in the country, according to KenPom, for the Buckeyes to defeat the Penguins 75-56 to get Ohio State’s 10th win of the season.

After its lowest scoring half of the season, Ohio State came out and scored 53 points in the second half, outscoring the Penguins by 22 to take the win by a comfortable margin.

The Buckeyes ended up shooting 46.4 percent on the night, making 70.4 percent of their shots in the second half including 4-of-8 from 3.

Ohio State started its comeback effort with a 10-0 run to give the Buckeyes their first lead of the game with 17:02 to go in the second half. The first seven points of the run came from sophomore forward Kaleb Wesson, who finished an and-one play to tie the game at 27.

Wesson finished the game with a team-high 31 points on 10-of-14 shooting, 26 of which came in the second half, and 7 rebounds. His 31 points set a new career high, which he previously set in the Buckeyes’ past game against Bucknell.

Wesson was a perfect 8-of-8 shooting, and 10-for-11 from the free-throw line in the second half.

Youngstown State started the game with a 12-point lead after the Buckeyes missed their first seven shots from the field. But Ohio State quickly came back with an 11-2 run to cut the deficit to 16-13, seemingly ending the Penguins hopes at the major upset.

But Youngstown State didn’t waver, holding the lead for the rest of the first half and out dueling Ohio State in the battle of poor shooting after both teams shot below 40 percent in the first half.

Penguins freshman guard Darius Quisenberry led all scorers with eight points in the opening half, connecting on 4-of-7 shots from the field.

The Buckeyes missed 13 of their final 16 attempts to end the half down three. Youngstown State did not take full advantage of Ohio State’s lackluster shooting, missing 16 of their 20 attempts down the stretch to close the first half with a one-score lead.

Ohio State ended the opening half on a high note after senior guard C.J. Jackson hit the team’s first 3 of the night with nine seconds remaining. The shot was the first of 11 to drop from behind the arc for the Buckeyes in the game, and Jackson’s first made bucket of the night.

Jackson ended the game with 11 points, seven rebounds and a team-leading seven assists.

With the Buckeyes up 16, Youngstown State began to make some shots to put some pressure on the lead. But freshman guard Luther Muhammad stopped any progress made by the Penguins, scoring eight consecutive points for Ohio State to put the team up 61-45.

Muhammad ended with 11 points on the night, tied for second-most on the team, all but one of which came in the second half.

On the game, Ohio State made five of 19 from 3-point range, the team’s worst performance from deep on the season since Nov. 20 against Samford when the Buckeyes made three 3-point shots in 20 attempts.

No. 15 Ohio State heads to Chicago to face UCLA in the United Center at 3 p.m. on Saturday.

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