There were no onion rings and there was certainly no mystery about the Buckeyes’ fate Wednesday night as No. 16 Ohio State (12-3, 2-2) went into Piscataway, New Jersey and came away with a 64-61 loss at the hands of the Rutgers Scarlet Knights (8-6, 1-3).
Waste management was an issue for the Buckeyes as they turned the ball over down the stretch and were never able to get this game under control. Ohio State’s limitations were put on display for much of this game, and most of the usual answers were busy practicing omertà.
When he wasn’t sitting due to foul trouble, Buckeye sophomore center Kaleb Wesson was enjoying some nice gabbagool in the paint. He led all scorers with 18 points, but they came in just 27 minutes of action. When he was on the court, the Buckeyes outscored Rutgers by four points. Unfortunately for the Buckeyes, he wasn’t on the court as much as they needed him to be.
Ohio State scored the first four points of the game, but were then outscored 30-15 over the next 12 minutes. Rutgers led it 30-19 with 4:54 remaining in the first half, but the Buckeyes closed on an 11-1 run, capped by a toe-on-the-line two-pointer from Duane Washington at the end of the half.
Washington scored just five points on the night as his shooting stroke continues to hit the freshman wall.
Kaleb Wesson played just 10 minutes in the first half, scoring just two points due to foul trouble. Wesson opened the second half on fire, outscoring the Scarlet Knights 10-7, giving the Buckeyes a 40-38 lead.
That lead would be short-lived as Rutgers answered with a 10-0 run thanks mostly to in-the-paint dominance from Montez Mathis and Shaq Carter, who scored four points each during the run. The lead went up to 10 points at 55-45 with nine minutes to play.
The Buckeyes began chipping away, thanks to some second chance buckets and a three from Keyshawn Woods. It was a layup by Luther Muhammad following an offensive rebound that gave the Buckeyes a 59-58 lead with 3:07 to play. CJ Jackson added a fast-break layup and things seemed to be falling into place for the Buckeyes.
A pair of driving layups by Mathis in the final two minutes gave Rutgers a 1-point lead. Sandwiched in between those was an unforced pass out of bounds by Andre Wesson with OSU up by one point. A jumper with 13 seconds to play by Geo Baker gave Rutgers a 3-point lead.
Buckeye head coach Chris Holtmann drew up a play to free up CJ Jackson for a three, which worked perfectly, but Jackson’s shot grazed off of the front rim in the final seconds.
Jackson scored 10 points, but hit just 2-of-9 from three.
Rutgers sophomore Geo Baker scored 15 points on 5-of-11 shooting, including the capper at the end to force the Buckeyes to go for three to tie the game. He played a game-high 38 minutes, which included 1-minute breaks in each half. He scored 13 of his points in the first half, but waited until the perfect time to score his first bucket of the second half.
+ Everything that could go wrong for the Buckeyes did go wrong, and they still found a way to stay in this game. Go ahead and credit both teams for that. This won’t be the last time you see this Ohio State team play as poorly as they did tonight. They are limited by their talent and when most of that talent has an off night and Kaleb Wesson is in foul trouble, they can lose to almost anybody.
+ Freshman guard — and New Jersey native — Luther Muhammad was happy to be back home, scoring 13 points and giving the Buckeyes their only perimeter shooter of the night. It was good to see Muhammad’s shot falling, which should help his confidence. It would be nice for Ohio State if fellow freshman Duane Washington could get his shot to start falling again, but at least his slump has not impacted his confidence.
+ Sophomore guard Musa Jallow has now gone six games without scoring a point.
The Box Score