Less than a minute into the game, Rutgers sophomore guard Montez Mathis hit a 3-pointer with a defender in his face.
It would be the only lead the Scarlet Knights (17-8, 8-6 Big Ten) held, and they trailed Ohio State men’s basketball (16-8, 6-7) by at least seven points for 30 minutes before the Buckeyes held off a late push for a 72-66 victory.
Ohio State senior forward Andre Wesson and junior forward Kaleb Wesson contributed brotherly guidance to the victory, the former scoring 13 points and the latter piling up 16. Andre Wesson pulled in a game-high 10 rebounds.
Rutgers junior guard Jacob Young led the way for the Scarlet Knights with 17 points.
The Buckeyes held a double-digit lead the entire second half until 3:17 remained.
Rutgers rattled off five straight makes, the last a 3-pointer by sophomore forward Ron Harper that set the score at 67-61 with 2:09 left.
Ninety seconds of fruitless offense followed, before two free throws by Young cut the lead to four.
Kaleb Wesson hit a pair of free throws, and Rutgers junior guard Geo Baker sank another 3 to cut the lead to 69-66.
After Rutgers missed two more triples, three free throws sealed the game for Ohio State.
Following back-to-back games at or below 61 points, the Buckeye offense awoke to score 45 in the first half. As a team, Ohio State shot 43 percent from the field.
The Scarlet Knights stumbled out of the starting gate in Columbus.
They could only muster four points in the opening 5:53 against the Buckeyes. After hitting its first shot of the game, Rutgers missed its next seven en route to a stretch of 7:31 without a field goal.
Kaleb Wesson took advantage with a pair of 3s, the latter stretching Ohio State’s early lead to 15-6.
Once Young finally took the proverbial lid off the Scarlet Knights’ hoop, Wednesday’s basketball game turned into a boxing match for several minutes. For nine straight baskets, Rutgers and Ohio State alternated scores, the Buckeye lead holding firm between seven and 11 points.
The Buckeyes came out the back end with a 6-0 run, including four points from Andre Wesson, to extend their lead to 31-16 with 5:40 to play in the first half.
Rutgers tried a variety of methods to pull itself back into the game. Starting at the 10-minute mark of the contest, it would occasionally roll out a full-court press.
Ohio State didn’t turn the ball over against the press until 5:56 remained to play and it was already up 63-48.
Outside Harper’s late 3, several Rutgers triples ate into the Buckeyes’ lead at various points in the game.
Baker cut the Ohio State advantage down to 12 twice in the second half with shots from behind the line.
With 3:17 remaining, Young hit a 3 of his own to slice the edge back under single digits for the first time since the first half at 65-56.
Ohio State’s own shooters kept pace. The Wesson brothers combined to knock down five triples, while sophomore forward Justin Ahrens continued to stretch the floor off the bench, securing his fourth game with three or more 3s this season in a 3-for-4 effort.
Ahrens’ final triple came with four seconds remaining in the opening half, setting the intermission score at 45-30.
One other significant advantage for the Buckeyes came in the passing department, as it out-assisted Rutgers 13-8.
A layup by Ohio State freshman forward E.J. Liddell off a feed from midcourt by sophomore guard Duane Washington pushed the Buckeye lead to 20 with 13:05 remaining.
The Buckeyes continue their season at home with a match-up against Purdue Saturday at noon.