Ohio State cruised to 7-0 with a convincing 90-57 victory against Morgan State at Value City Arena on Nov. 29.
The Bears fought hard but were no match for the unbeaten Buckeyes, who were led by Andre and Kaleb Wesson as well as junior guard C.J. Walker in a game they could have overlooked with North Carolina looming.
“That’s a credit to our leadership,” Ohio State head coach Chris Holtmann said of his team’s focus against lesser opponents. “Our approach throughout this stretch here has been directly attributable to our leadership.”
Andre Wesson led Ohio State in scoring despite not attempting a single two-point shot. The 6-6 senior forward knocked down 4 of 4 three-pointers and 7 of 7 free throws for a game-high 19 points with seven rebounds off the bench. Kaleb Wesson added 13 points and eight boards, while Walker scored 10 points with three assists.
“Hard to be better than he was tonight offensively in particular,” Holtmann said of Andre Wesson. “I just thought he was in a rhythm. We’ve seen him get in those kind of rhythms in the preseason. He’s really worked on his shooting, really worked at it, and that’s why I was so happy to see him knock a couple down because he’s really worked at it.
“I think he’s improved his shooting. It wasn’t like he was bad last year, but I think he’s improved enough where I’d love to him being shooting anywhere between 37-39 percent from three. He’s got to take good ones. But I loved seeing that from him tonight.”
Morgan State scored the first four points of the game but a 6-5 advantage was the last lead the Bears would have all night. Ohio State went on a 25-4 run from that point and never looked back.
Since the Buckeyes controlled a large lead for most of the game, Kaleb Wesson only played 18 minutes and Andre Wesson and Walker saw the floor for just 20 minutes apiece.
The Scarlet and Gray took a 45-18 edge into halftime, outshooting Morgan State 48.3 percent to 25.9 percent from the field. The Buckeyes knocked down 5 of 13 three-pointers (38.5 percent) and 12 of 14 foul shots (85.7 percent), while the Bears went 0 for 4 from deep and 4 of 8 on free throws in the first frame.
Visiting Morgan State showed toughness coming out of the halftime break, outscoring Ohio State 13-10 to open the final frame.
“We were not as sharp or as solid as I hoped we would have been in the second half,” Holtmann said.
The Buckeyes answered with a 7-0 run on four points from Kaleb Wesson and a three-pointer by Andre Wesson, pushing their lead to 62-31.
Ohio State held off Morgan State in the second half, rotating in reserve players while keeping a high level of defensive intensity. Freshman forwards Alonzo Gaffney and E.J. Liddell came together for one of the plays of the game. Liddell displayed excellent vision, finding Gaffney for a ferocious alley-oop slam with 6:29 left in the contest.
Liddell added nine points and three boards and sophomore guard Duane Washington contributed nine points.
The Buckeyes outrebounded the Bears 43-31 and physically controlled the game from the opening tipoff.
Overall, Ohio State shot 47.6 percent from the floor and 36 percent from beyond the arc, while holding Morgan State to 37.5 percent and 18.2 percent. The Buckeyes outshot the Bears considerably at the free-throw line 80.8 percent to 65 percent.
Tenth-ranked Ohio State will travel to take on the sixth-ranked Tar Heels in Chapel Hill, N.C. on Dec. 4 and then face a red-hot Penn State team at home on Dec. 7.
“We’re heading into a stretch here that’s the most challenging December I’ve ever been a part of. I think that we all will welcome that, but I’m interested to see what questions are answered coming out of this month. There are a lot of questions that you have that really don’t get fully answered until you play on the road, until you consistently play against the kind of competition that we’re going to play.
“It tests your togetherness, your toughness across the board. It certainly tests how you respond to getting exposed from one game to the next. And I’m anxious to see how we answer some of those questions as a group, players and coaches.”
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