Men's Basketball

Buckeye Basketball Notebook: ‘He’s just got to handle it better’

Ohio State Basketball Shootaround

 

Happy, But Not Happy

Ohio State came away with a 71-56 win over Indiana Tuesday night, shooting 55.8% from the field for the game in a fairly impressive shooting performance.

The Buckeyes had 13 assists on their 29 made field goals, but the passing could have been much crisper. Indiana deflected a number of passes during the game, disrupting what could have been an even more productive offense.

After the game, OSU head coach Chris Holtmann was appreciative to get the win, but not happy with how the Buckeyes went about doing it.

“There are definitely some things we can learn from this that we need to before Sunday’s game versus Illinois,” he said. “I did not like our ball handling, passing and decision making at times. We are playing a team on Sunday that turns you over like no one else in the country, so hopefully we can correct that in the coming days. Illinois is going to come at our throats from the opening tip and we just have to be able to come back.”

Deep Impact

For just the third time this season, the Buckeyes had two players score more points in a game than forward Keita Bates-Diop. Bates-Diop leads the Big Ten in scoring, averaging 19.6 points per game. He doesn’t always lead Ohio State in scoring, but he’s almost always the first or second-leading scorer in a game.

Tuesday night against Indiana, however, he only scored 13 points, while Jae’Sean Tate led the team with 16 points and Kaleb Wesson chipped in 14 points. Bates-Diop struggled from the field, shooting just 5-of-13 and 0-3 from three-point territory.

He still found other ways to put his mark on the game, however.

“He really impacts the game in a lot of ways,” Holtmann said. “People continue to be really physical with him and he’s struggled with that at times. He’s just got to handle it better, but he still had a major impact on the game with his ability. He had five assists, four blocks and 13 rebounds, and that’s what good players do. They find other ways to impact the game.”

Mr. Perfect

Freshman center Kaleb Wesson scored 14 points on 7-of-7 shooting against Indiana, and has now made 11-of-11 field goal attempts over the Buckeyes’ last two games. Over the last four games, he has made 21-of-25 (.840) field goal attempts.

So how did he manage perfection against the Hoosiers.

“My coaches and teammates did a great job of putting me in the right spots, just giving me looks I’ve been working on every day,” he said after the game.

For the season, Wesson is shooting .584 from the field, which is sixth in the Big Ten, and is averaging 11.3 points per game. Not bad at all for a freshman. How has Chris Holtmann gotten this out of him in year one?

“We beat the living crap out of him every day in practice,” he said. “He has made strides and I have been very pleased with him. It is really good to see him finish a little bit better through contact than maybe what he did four, five games ago.”

Championship Thoughts

Ohio State (19-5, 10-1) trails Purdue (21-2, 10-0) by one game in the loss column in the Big Ten standings. The Buckeyes will get an opportunity to eliminate that loss and to get a leg up on the Boilermakers one week from tonight in West Lafayette.

To think that this was a possibility two months ago when Ohio State was in the midst of losing three games in a four-game stretch would have been laughable.

Now, however, there is a possibility of a Big Ten regular season championship. It’s understandable if the Buckeyes sometimes find themselves thinking about it.

“The opportunity is hard not to think about, but like we’ve been saying all year, we have to take it one game at a time,” said Jae’Sean Tate. “We can’t let a game two weeks from now be our focus. We take it day by day, practice by practice. At the end of the season, if we played hard for 40 minutes, then good things will happen.”