A whole lot of youth. A key veteran newcomer. And not much size.
Ohio State’s got hardwood warts.
But the Buckeyes also have great effort and optimal coaching.
Oh, and they’ve got an unblemished start to their season courtesy of their 64-56 upset-win at Cincinnati in the two programs’ first on-campus meeting in the Queen City since 1920.
Ohio State placed four players in double figures, engineered suffocating defense and also showed impressive poise to score its season-opening road victory.
Here’s the Lettermen Row Three-Point Drill on a big win for the Buckeyes:
1. Kyle Young was a giant
A year ago as a true freshman, Kyle Young averaged less than a bucket per game and also not even two rebounds per outing in a reserve, bench role.
Fast-forward to Wednesday’s season lid-lifter, and Young surely is the opening-night glue-man. All the 6-foot-8 forward from Canton did against the Bearcats was play like the grittiest, toughest and arguably headiest player on the floor — for either squad.
Young had 10 points, eight boards and some monumental hustle plays. Moreover, a season after shooting 46 percent from the charity stripe, Young connected on a Buckeyes-best six of seven free-throw attempts.
2. Chris Holtmann again getting great effort
Ohio State didn’t have any sort of size advantage whatsoever; in fact, the Bearcats were considerably longer than the Buckeyes.
And, yet, somehow Ohio State mostly stood toe-to-toe on the first-half glass and absolutely suffocated the Bearcats on the defensive end.
Out-rebounded only 22-18 at the break, Ohio State allowed only four first-half field goals — two triples, two deuces — as it commanded a 27-18 halftime bulge.
3. C.J. Jackson, Kaleb Wesson set the tone
Most observers, at least outside the Ohio State program, wondered where the Buckeyes might get a steady veteran hand and clutch late-game moments. Enter senior guard C.J. Jackson.
The Charlotte, N.C., native pumped in 13 key points, including a pair of 3-pointers, and hit five of six free throws in a whopping 33 minutes on the hardwood.
Also, Kaleb Wesson was the quiet MVP for the Buckeyes — if 15 points can be considered a quiet night. Wesson hit a magnificent three late in the game for a 58-47 lead, and he earlier had dunked home a bucket that lifted OSU to a game-high tying 16-point edge.
BONUS: Missed calls don’t bother Buckeyes
With less than two minutes to play, Ohio State — despite leading almost wire-to-wire — had been whistled for 22 fouls while the Bearcats only had been called for 16. Undeniably in this game, the officials missed a first-half goaltending call that should’ve been two more points for the Buckeyes and also missed an out-of-bounds call that should have been Ohio State’s possession. Instead, Cincinnati hit a free throw. And then a call late in the second half for an offensive foul against Ohio State that Dan Dakich, the former Indiana University coach who was on the call for ESPN, described as thusly:
“THAT’S A TOTAL FLOP. I THINK IT’S A THOUSAND PERCENT A FLOP. THAT’S BAD OFFICIATING.”
No matter. The Buckeyes came back to the interstate to Columbus with a win.