Keyshawn Woods Bounces Back From Scoreless Game With 18 Points In Ohio State's Win Against Illinois

By Colin Hass-Hill on December 6, 2018 at 7:35 am
Keyshawn Woods
Courtesy: Ohio State Athletics

Keyshawn Woods didn't score a single point in 29 minutes on Sunday in Ohio State's 79-59 win against Minnesota. He went 0-for-5 from the field, committed three fouls and turned the ball over three times.

Woods wasted no time. The very next game, he bounced back.

With the Buckeyes exiting halftime with a four-point deficit to Illinois on Wednesday, Chris Holtmann wanted to get Kaleb Wesson involved. He scored Ohio State's first four points of the second half, then Woods got cooking. The 6-foot-3 guard converted an and-one opportunity to tie the game at 46 points apiece with 15:22 minutes remaining. He dropped 12 of his 18 points in the second half to help propel the Buckeyes to a 77-67 comeback win.

"It felt good," Woods said. "I know I struggled last game, like you said. But, I mean, the season's long, so you're going to have those ups and downs. You just try not to have two in a row. That was my mentality this game."

Woods, a graduate transfer from Wake Forest, has been a bit of an enigma for Ohio State on the offensive end. 

“He was great. He steadied us. He steadies us so much in these types of situations.”– Keyshawn Woods

He had just 11 points in the first two games of the season, then dropped a season-high 19 points against Creighton. The next game, he didn't score. Woods followed that up with point totals of six, six and zero, before his 18-point outburst Wednesday night.

Partially, that's out of design. Woods is the do-everything veteran who can play multiple positions and do multiple different things well on offense. But, he also needed to be more aggressive, Holtmann said on Sunday after his second scoreless game of the season. Woods responded by putting up his second-most shots of the season.

"He was great," Holtmann said on his post-game interview with 97.1. "He steadied us. He steadies us so much in these types of situations. He just steadies our team. He makes good decisions. He makes the right play at the right time most times."

Ohio State desperately needed Woods as the veteran, steadying presence at the midpoint of Wednesday's tilt at the United Center in Chicago.

Wesson picked up a pair of fouls and barely played in the final nine minutes of the half. Illinois took advantage of the big man's absence and of Ohio State's carelessness with the ball and proceeded to go on a 16-4 run to swing what was an eight-point lead by the Buckeyes into a four-point lead for the Illini.

Woods hit the game-tying shot just five minutes into the second half, and Ohio State pulled out to a double-digit lead 11 minutes into the half. 

"We just came together as a team," Woods said. "We knew we had to stop turning the ball over as much as we did in the first half. We knew we had to get stops, and we knew if we got back and set our defense, it was going to be tough on them to score in the second half."

Holtmann said the Buckeyes "did not play very smart" in the final five minutes of the first half, a stretch that included six of the team's 19 turnovers. He included the technical foul called on him in the not-so-smart category.

"I think our guys came out with a different spirit in the second half," Holtmann said.

Brad Underwood's Illinois team presses and pushes the ball as aggressively as any team in the country. Thus, Holtmann said teams essentially have to "throw your offensive playbook out" when facing it. 

Ohio State and Woods adjusted and had a 43-29 edge in the second half.

"I think once our guys just said, 'Hey, it's a player's game. We have to go make plays,' they did that," Holtmann said.

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