Kaleb Wesson was listed as ESPN’s No. 6 best player in college basketball ahead of the 2019-20 season.
The junior forward was the No. 1 player on the court in No. 18 Ohio State’s 95-52 exhibition win over Cedarville Wednesday, pouring in 23 points and seven rebounds.
“He was terrific in a lot of ways,” Ohio State head coach Chris Holtmann said. “He’s worked on his body to the point to where he can really move and create difficult situations for the defense.”
Cedarville was competitive early, as its sizable and noisy contingent cheered the Yellow Jackets to a 23-22 lead midway into the first half behind two 3-pointers from sophomore forward Isaiah Speelman.
That momentum was quickly rooted out by Wesson, who scored back-to-back buckets, including his second 3 to kickstart a 19-4 run that put the Buckeyes up 41-27 at half.
Cedarville didn’t sniff a lead for the rest of the game.
Wesson hit his last five shots to end the first half, and his three 3-pointers tied his career game-high. He led all scorers with 13 points in the opening 20 minutes, and shot 9-of-11 on the night.
When Cedarville caught a brief second-half wind, climbing back to a 12-point deficit, it was Wesson to the rescue once again, hitting an outside jumper before dunking it a few plays later on an assist from freshman guard DJ Carton to extend the lead again.
“It’s really tough because he’s able to pop out now, he’s a really good passer, he can dribble so he makes the game a little easier for me and definitely spaces the floor out for us this year,” Carton said.
The Yellow Jackets responded to a game opening 6-0 run from the Buckeyes with a 20-14 stretch of their own, tying the Buckeyes thanks to hot shooting from their backcourt.
Sophomore guards Quinton Green and Branden Maughmer combined for 21 points on 8-of-13 shooting in the first half, and an early Maughmer dunk brought the Yellow Jacket faithful to a thundering roar.
“They made some shots, but I thought our poor attention to detail defensively allowed them to get some things,” Holtmann said.
All four freshmen played and scored, combining for 36 points, but Carton saw the most time of Ohio State’s first-year players, with 19 minutes.
Carton scored two buckets and dished two assists in his 13 first half minutes — five more than the Buckeyes’ other primary point guard, redshirt junior CJ Walker — but he looked even more comfortable in the second half.
Carton got loose for three transition dunks in a three-minute span, two left-handed breakaway slams and a two-handed power finish on an alley oop from freshman forward E.J. Liddell. Ohio State’s top recruit of the 2019 class finished with a Buckeye second-best 15 points.
Junior forward Kyle Young turned in an impressive performance of his own, dominating the glass early with a game-high eight first-half rebounds. He finished with nine boards and added 10 points with strong play in the low post.
The Buckeyes pushed the lead to a game-high 43 points in the second half, despite being outscored 24-18 from the 3-point line in the game.
Ohio State made up by dominating the smaller Yellow Jacket team inside, scoring 16 dunks to Cedarville’s two, and outscoring it 46-16 in the paint.
Despite the blowout victory, Holtmann said Ohio State has a lot to learn before it begins its regular season next week with an 8:30 p.m. tipoff against Cincinnati Nov. 6.
“We’re not where we need to be defensively or offensively right now in the half court,” Holtmann said. “I don’t know what team is right now, but we’re certainly not.”