I don't think anyone quite saw this coming.
In what was a start-to-finish shellacking of the Wisconsin Badgers, the Ohio State men's basketball team ran roughshod over their opponent in Madison, building off an incredible shooting performance in the first half to cruise to a 83-58 finish and their first win of the Big Ten season.
With Jae'Sean Tate starting at point guard, the Buckeyes shot lights out from three to start the game, going 7/7 and building a 23 point lead at the half. The Badgers conversely were ice cold; they had fewer made field goals in the first half than Ohio State had made threes, beginning the game only 5-17 from the field.
Forward Ethan Happ, Wisconsin's best player, wasn't able to do anything to pull his team back into the game, as he was double and triple teamed every time he approached the paint. Unable to rely on his teammates to keep the Ohio State defense honest, he was frustrated all night and finished with only five points and three turnovers at the half.
Coach Chris Holtmann noted at the half that "[The] biggest thing is that we're making shots. We can't rely on that; we have to be better defensively."
It turns out that wasn't quite true, because as the second half started, the Buckeyes moved away from the three point shot and went on a 12-2 run and built a ridiculous 35 point lead, and this is where by necessity Kaleb Wesson enters the story.
|31-47 (66.0%)||FGM-FGA (PCT.)||19-49 (38.8%)|
|7-13 (53.8%)||3PM-3PA (PCT.)||10-27 (37.0%)|
|14-19 (73.7%)||FTM-FTA (PCT.)||10-12 (83.3%)|
Wesson was fantastic all game; his presence inside was a consistent force, and his 19 points were largely the result of the Badgers being unable to cope with either his size or his shooting. Fouled often, Kaleb kept pushing the game out of reach, even as Wisconsin shooting heated up somewhat near the end of the second half.
The other significant story is how much of the scoring was spread around, as the Ohio State bench was a significant contributor to the victory, coming in at times in which players like Wesson or Tate (16 points, 7/8 FGs) got into foul trouble early.
Overall it was a fantastic game against a Big Ten opponent that hopefully portends great things in the future for Chris Holtmann's squad, especially as they start to enter a more difficult part of their schedule. It's probably unlikely that the team will amass that many assists, steals, and completely out-rebound their opponent the way that they did tonight on a regular basis yet, but that's the operative word here, because the potential for this team is enormous.
Sitting at 6-3, the Buckeyes will next host Michigan on 12/4 in a game that will be televised on FS1.