Rutgers did its best late in Wednesday's game to hang around. But that's all Steve Pikiell's group managed to do.
The Scarlet Knights chopped a 20-point second-half lead down to just three points with 27.1 seconds remaining but couldn't get over the final hump. Ohio State, holding them off late, finished with a 72-66 victory in Wednesday night's game at the Schottenstein Center.
Bouncing back from a road loss to Wisconsin, the Buckeyes improved their overall record to 16-8 and rose to 6-7 in the Big Ten.
Ohio State led by as many as 20 points with 13:05 remaining when E.J. Liddell hit a layup. A 31-14 Rutgers run, featuring 11 points from Jacob Young, closed the advantage to three points. But by hitting enough late free throws, the Buckeyes managed to stave off the Scarlet Knights just enough down the stretch.
Four Ohio State players scored in double figures against a Rutgers team that entered the evening with the nation's 10th-best adjusted defensive efficiency.
|22-51 (43.1%)||FGM-FGA (PCT.)||22-48 (45.8%)|
|10-26 (38.5%)||3PM-3PA (PCT.)||9-21 (42.9%)|
|18-21 (85.7%)||FTM-FTA (PCT.)||13-18 (72.2%)|
Kaleb Wesson scored 16 points, going 3-for-3 from 3-point range. His older brother, senior forward Andre Wesson, went for 13 points and added 10 rebounds for a double-double.
Duane Washington Jr. had 10 points, with eight of them coming on four layups, including an and-1 opportunity. His ability to get to the rim gave Ohio State's offense an aspect it has lacked throughout this season.
Luther Muhammad added 10 points, hitting 3-of-4 shots. He has now hit at least three shots from the field in consecutive games for the first time since the second and third games of the season.
Ohio State jumped out to a quick lead from the outset of Wednesday's game, with Kaleb Wesson hitting a pair of 3-pointers for his team's first points to give a lead the Buckeyes never relinquished. Before the 10-minute mark of the first half, they pulled out to a double-digit lead that they stretched to 15 points when Justin Ahrens drained a corner 3-pointer off a pass from CJ Walker with four seconds remaining before halftime.
Ahrens had nine points, hitting three 3-pointers.
The Buckeyes shot 51.7 percent in the first half and 31.8 percent in the second half. Conversely, Rutgers hit 48.1 percent of its shots in the second half compared to 42.9 of its shots in the first half.
Next up: Ohio State stays in Columbus to take on Purdue on Saturday. The game will tip off at noon and will be shown on FOX.
- Chris Holtmann didn't deviate from his recent starting five: CJ Walker, Luther Muhammad, Andre Wesson, Kyle Young and Kaleb Wesson.
- Ohio State football head coach Ryan Day was spotted in attendance. He was sitting in athletic director Gene Smith's booth during the game.
- A pair of 2022 hoops targets – Dayton Belmont center Shawn Phillips and Gahanna point guard Sean Jones – were on visits for Ohio State-Rutgers. Phillips, a four-star big man, is the No. 48 overall prospect in his class. He holds an offer. Jones doesn't have an Ohio State offer yet.
- Rutgers still only has one win on the road in the Big Ten portion of its schedule.
- The Buckeyes improved to 4-2 at home during conference play.
- Former Ohio State safety Tyvis Powell was at Wednesday's game and was introduced on the big screen during a timeout.