On a Senior Night when the Buckeyes honored four players, that quartet all played roles in ensuring that they went out as winners.
Kam Williams finally looked like he was fully back for the first time since returning from a suspension, draining early back-to-back 3-pointers en route to a 13-point evening.
Jae’Sean Tate put up nine points and a game-high 10 rebounds.
Fourth-year junior Keita Bates-Diop was one of the players honored on Senior Day, and while he continued to struggle from the field, he added six points and eight rebounds.
Graduate transfer Andrew Dakich made his first career start, hit the Buckeyes’ first basket of the game, and played 22 minutes.
It all added up to an easy 79-52 win over last-place Rutgers.
The Buckeyes jumped out to a 30-11 lead and looked like they were going to spent the last 25 minutes of the game on cruise control, but Rutgers showed a momentary flash of competence, closing the half on a 16-2 run. OSU entered the locker room with a lead of just 32-27.
After the half, the Buckeyes quickly regained control. C.J. Jackson hit six of his first seven shots from the field following the break, as OSU ripped off a 22-4 run to extend their lead to 23.
From there, they finally did cruise to the finish line. The blowout allowed Chris Holtmann to pull his seniors off the floor one at a time to receive one last home ovation from Buckeye fans.
Those fans have had a lot to cheer about this season, as Ohio State finished the year with a 16-2 record at home.
One of the loudest cheers came in the game’s final minute when fan favorite Joey Lane came off the bench and drained a 3-pointer.
Lane was one of 11 different Buckeyes to score on the evening. Jackson led the way with 18, and Kaleb Wesson added 14, despite appearing to suffer an ankle injury late in the first half. He limped to the locker room, but later returned to the lineup after halftime.
The Buckeyes will conclude their regular season schedule Friday night at 8:00 at Indiana. With a win and a loss by Michigan State at Wisconsin on Sunday, OSU could clinch a share of the Big Ten regular season championship and the top seed in the conference tournament.
[Header photo courtesy OhioStateBuckeyes.com]