COLUMBUS — Following Ohio State’s 72-66 win over Rutgers Wednesday night, Buckeye head coach Chris Holtmann and players Andre Wesson and Kaleb Wesson spoke with reporters to recap their victory. Also speaking was Scarlet Knights’ head coach Steve Pikiell. Every party spoke of the Rutgers comeback, which saw the Scarlet Knights cut a 20-point lead down to three points in the waning moments.
+ Holtmann began by thanking the fans for braving the snow and weather. He said if the fans keep their ticket stubs from tonight and they see him out and about, he’ll buy them a drink.
+ Credit to a really good Rutgers team. “They do not ever quit. That’s a credit to Steve. They fight and they compete.”
+ Holtmann told the team at halftime that Rutgers was going to be a different team in the second half.
+ It’s too hard to win in this league to be angry about a win. “Nick Saban might, but I’m not going to.”
+ “No question we’ve got to do some things better. I did not love our defensive approach in the second half. I just didn’t. We’ve got to do some things better, but give them credit.” The defensive connectiveness wasn’t great, but the Buckeyes made enough plays. They hit big free throws. “Those are excellent plays.”
+ Holtmann said they got good looks down the stretch against Rutgers, but they just didn’t make them like they didn’t in the first half. There was a stretch in the second half where the shot selection wasn’t great.
+ Duane Washington did some good things. The key is to continue to compete defensively and he has to be consistent in his performances. He is a sophomore now. “I thought his decision making was much better. He delivered the ball better at the right time.” Five assists for him has got to be a career high. “It’s gotta be. No question.”
+ They took a few too many threes tonight. They settled too much in a few situations.
+ They can still be more committed to getting the ball down into Kaleb Wesson. Sometimes the players don’t feel comfortable with the looks they’re getting from the post defense, but Holtmann said they need to remain patient and keep looking.
+ Comfort level at home is usually the reason for the disparity in shooting at home versus on the road.
+ Buckeyes handled the press “just okay.”
+ Justin Ahrens didn’t defend well in the second half so he didn’t play much. He is shooting the ball with great confidence.
+ The Ohio State offense is at its best when Kaleb Wesson’s offense is diversified. That involves moving him around into different spots.
+ Rutgers was scoring too quickly and too easily in the second half, which made Holtmann nervous pretty early on. Watching how an opponent plays when they’re down gives you an idea of whether or not they are capable of making a comeback.
+ Luther Muhammad has played with good confidence the last two games. He’s finding his legs a little bit. He was struggling with fatigue and leg strength.
+ Kyle Young rolled an ankle or something. Holtmann is hoping it wasn’t serious or related to past leg injuries.
+ The threes at the end of the first half was very critical.
+ The message after a game like this depends on the team. You’re always learning from wins and losses. “Every moment is a teachable moment.” “We did a lot of things really well.” It wasn’t a downtrodden locker room and Holtmann didn’t want it to be. But they know they have to play better.
+ It didn’t go the way they wanted it to, but a win is a win.
+ The biggest thing right now is just playing a full 40 minutes. They played a very good 25 minutes.
+ They focused this week on learning from the loss over the weekend. They watched their film and saw their errors and worked on correcting it.
+ How they built the lead was with stops, then OSU stopped hitting shots and Rutgers started hitting everything.
+ “A win’s a win in ‘The Ten.'”
+ Holtmann has taught them that teams will make runs and hit circus shots. You just have to stay focused on winning the next possession.
+ They shoot better at home because they get to practice in the arena for two days before games.
Rutgers Head Coach Steve Pikiell
+ You can’t spot Ohio State a 20-point lead and expect to win.
+ “Thank God” for the bench scoring. He views this team as having nine starters.
+ On the road you have to play a great 40 minutes and they didn’t do that. “Tip of the hat to Ohio State.”
+ “You can’t defend the foul line.”
+ The big threes by Ohio State at the end of the half were back breakers.