Stetson entered the heavy underdog against Ohio State and didn’t outperform expectations.
No. 10 Ohio State (4-0) sprinted away from the Hatters (2-2) 86-51 Monday in the Schottenstein Center, using three large first half runs to gain an advantage it held throughout the contest.
“I thought our guys came out with good life, good energy,” Ohio State head coach Chris Holtmann said. “That first group set the tone with how we wanted to play the whole night, and they deserve a lot of credit for that.”
Junior forward Kaleb Wesson toyed with Stetson big men like a cat batting a ball of yarn, blocking three shots with nine points and three rebounds in just nine minutes of first half action en route to a 13-point, eight-board performance.
Junior forward Kyle Young scored a team-high 15 points with 10 rebounds for a double-double, while senior forward Andre Wesson returned from injury and knocked down two 3-pointers.
Stetson head coach Donnie Jones compared Young to NBA forward Joakim Noah, whom he coached at Florida.
“Those guys, they show up on the stat sheet sometimes with their rebounds, not always for points,” Jones said. “But he brings a different toughness, he knows his role, he knows who he is — you know what you’re getting from him every night.”
On the long list of things that catapulted the Buckeyes to victory, their 20-0 first half run was near the top.
Sophomore guards Luther Muhammad and Duane Washington each contributed a 3-point basket during the stretch, but dunks litter the run’s highlight reel.
Young dribbled around a defender in the low post and threw down a two-hand jam, then stuck back a missed dunk by Andre Wesson with a slam of his own. Redshirt junior guard CJ Walker found freshman guard D.J. Carton soaring over the Hatters’ defense for an alley-oop.
Even freshman center Ibrahima Diallo, in his lone first half minutes this season, got in on the action with a layup, his first career points, a play Ohio State’s bench celebrated heartily.
“I feel like [my teammates] love me,” Diallo said. “They know that I’ve been working hard for that.”
The run made Ohio State’s lead 28-3 with 7:35 to play in the first half.
“You’re really trying to stay committed to how you want to play, playing a variety of guys,” Holtmann said. “You’re trying to keep guys accountable for doing the things you expect them to do.”
Stetson’s sloppy offense didn’t help matters. The Hatters opened the game 1-for-24 from the floor, at one point having more than twice as many turnovers as points, with seven and three, respectively.
Three Stetson turnovers in the first two minutes led to five fast-break points as part of an 8-0 run that started the contest for Ohio State.
What little success the Hatters found on offense mostly came from freshman guard Rob Perry, who scored a team-high 17 points.
After another 8-0 run for the Buckeyes, and they led 42-14 at halftime.
Young said Ohio State’s continued success was centered around development and focus.
“We’re working on our defense, our offense, working on stuff we practice every day,” Young said. “Our defensive intensity, we want to keep that up all game.”
The second half was more of the same.
Washington shot two threes within two minutes of each other, the second providing part of another 8-0 Ohio State run.
Stetson got a basket back, then surrendered another 9-0 run that grew Ohio State’s lead to 63-19 with 14:56 to play.
After sophomore forward Justin Ahrens further decimated the Hatters with back-to-back 3-pointers, redshirt senior guard and walk-on Danny Hummer entered the game with 8:19 still to play, as Ohio State led 77-30.
Holtmann said he was rewarding younger players with playing time who were giving their all in practice, pointing to Diallo specifically.
“If you don’t have consistent practice habits and you’re young, I’m sorry. I’m not gonna play you,” Holtmann said.
The win was Ohio State’s largest margin of victory since a 107-61 drubbing of Purdue Fort Wayne Nov. 11, 2018.
The Buckeyes continue the 2019-20 season against that same Purdue Fort Wayne team Friday at 7 p.m. in the Schottenstein Center.