(Image and game information courtesy ohiostatebuckeyes.com, ESPN.com, stats courtesy of teamrankings.com)

Illinois (12-12, 2-9) proved to be  tough “out” for #17 Ohio State Buckeyes as OSU had to grind, shorthanded, through a 75-67 win Sunday afternoon at VCA. The Buckeyes were powered by Kieta Bates-Diop’s (surprise!) career high 35 points and 13 rebounds. Kaleb Wesson also achieved a double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds.

The first half was noted by a series of 4 minute intervals where the teams alternated or expanded scoring runs. The game was evenly enough contested early on with Ohio State holding an 8-7 lead at the 15:00 mark. Things turned quickly for Minnesota as they outscored Ohio State 13-2 over the next four minutes to hold a 20-10 lead at the 11:00 mark. During the next four minutes, Ohio State went on a 13-2 run of their own to regain the lead 23-22. Over the next three minutes, Ohio State extended their lead to 34-22 with an 11-0 run! In the final four minutes of the half, the Gophers outscores the Buckeyes 9-4 to trail 31-38 at the half.

The 2nd half was marked by good defense (maybe) and poor offense (likely). At the midpoint, Ohio State held a 55-40 lead. With Ohio State leading 62-44, a layup by Minnesota’s Amir Coffey at the 2:05 mark was the Gophers’ first field goal in nine and a half minutes! 

The Buckeyes were led by Kieta Bates-Diop (35 points), Jae’Sean Tate (11) and Kaleb Wesson (10). C.J. Jackson provided 9 points and no doubt could have been more, were it not for abysmal 2-11 shooting. Kieta led Ohio State with 13 rebounds and Kaleb had 10.

The Fighting Illini were led by Mark Alstork (19 points) and Trent Frazier (12.). Leron Black and Kipper Nichols chipped in 9 points each. Black also led Illinois in rebounding with 4.

Ohio State shot 46% from the field (23-50, a you’re-wasting-your-time 19% (3-16) from 3-point range and 78% from the foul line (20-27).

Illinois shot 40% from the field (23-57),  32% from 3-point range (9-28) and 71% (8-13) from the foul line.


What Went Right

Tenacity. There was a five minute stretch midway through the first half where Ohio State struggled at both ends of the floor, falling behind 28-13 at the 10:51 mark. Illinois was shooting very well from long range, and in Kam Williams’ absence, Ohio State wasn’t. Down 30-20 with seven minutes remaining in the half, Ohio State stabilized itself, went on a 14-0 run and went into intermission with a 34-30 lead.

Inside play. I think, that without much of an outside shooting threat, Coach Holtmann appeared to go to an inside game and it payed off. Ohio State scored over half its points “in the paint” and really neutralized what had been a pretty decent rebounding Illinois team.

Ball movement worked well for Ohio State; they notched 11 assists. Their inside passing game seems to be improving as the season wears on. Chalk this up to Holtmann’s emphasis on doing fundamentals the right way.

What Didn’t

Ball security was an issue. I think that missing Williams screwed up their rotation enough players typically not handling the ball a lot (Bates-Diop, A. Wesson) were forced to and the mistakes ensued. Ten of their 15 turnovers were in the first half, so clearly adjustments/assignment changes were made, but 10 “cough ups” in a half is way to many.

Three point shooting was, in effect, a turnover. The 3-16 performance was pathetic. Although OSU did manage to rebound 8 of their misses, they could only convert those into 7 points, all free throws. At least that was something.

That’s all I have for now.


  • Kam William’s indefinite suspension due to ‘violation of team rules’ put a bit of a wrinkle in Ohio State’s rotation and assignments. Although Kam is a shooter and not a ball handler, having him at one of the guard positions would have taken some pressure off JC/Jae’Sean/Kieta/Andrew and added a few points to the effort.
  • According to teamrankings.com, the Buckeyes are now projected to finish the regular season 23-8 and 14-4 in B1G play. They rank Ohio State as the 22nd best team and give them a 99% chance to make the NCAA’s. All good news, but based on their Power Rankings, Ohio State has a 12% chance to beat Purdue on Wednesday, so let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves…
  • Ohio State absolutely dominated rebounding and “inside play” in general. Illinois averages 34’ish rebounds per game. Against Ohio State they had 23. Ohio State outscored Illinois 38-16 in points “in the paint”.
  • Kaleb Wesson was productive with 10 rebounds, but perhaps the most significant was an offensive rebound/putback with :48 remaining to give OSU a 5 point cushion.
  • Ohio State’s 14-0 run to close out the half was a nice accomplishment. This team is a lot tougher than last year’s.

Up Next

The Buckeyes travel to West Lafayette for a Wednesday evening game against the #3 Purdue Boilermakers (23-2, 12-0). Tip-off at Mackey Arena is scheduled for 8:00 pm ET.  The game can be seen on BTN and/or you can listen to it on 97.1.

Note: stats are prior to weekend play.

The Boilermakers are averaging 84 points per game while allowing 64 ppg.  They average 36 rebounds and 11 turnovers per game. For comparison, the Buckeyes are scoring 77 and allowing 66. Ohio State averages 37 rebounds and 12 turnovers per game.

Purdue has four players that average double figures scoring per game. They are Carson Edwards (16.7), Vincent Edwards (15.4, Isaac Haas (14.8)  and Dakota Mathias (12.3). Edwards (Vincent) leads Purdue with 7.8 per game.

Purdue’s 6th man, in terms of ‘minutes per game, is 7’3″ RS freshman Matt Haarms. Although his points/rebounds contributions are respectable – (5.8/3.5). he excels in shot blocking. Of Purdue’s 135 blocked shots (OSU has 97) Haarms leads the team with 63 blocks (Bates-Diop has 43).  This partially explains why Purdue’s defense is do good.

Ohio State has four players averaging double figures; Kieta Bates-Diop (19.6), C.J. Jackson (12.9), Jae’Sean Tate (12.9),  and Kaleb Wesson (11.3). KBD also leads the Buckeyes in rebounds with 8.8 per game.