When he looked ahead to Ohio State’s exhibition Sunday against the College of Wooster, Jae’Sean Tate offered fans a promise.
“If there’s a loose ball, I feel like at any point in time all five of those guys will be willing to dive into the third row to save the ball,” he said.
On the first defensive possession of the game for the Buckeyes, C.J. Jackson got a deflection and, charging upcourt in pursuit of the ball, couldn’t quite corral it as it bounded out of bounds. A split-second later, he followed, seemingly impaling himself on one of the courtside chairs at Value City Arena.
The effort was there, but the execution was fittingly a little bit off. The Buckeyes would go on to win the first unofficial game of the Chris Holtmann era, 88-63. They officially open the season Friday at home against Robert Morris.
Keita Bates-Diop led the Buckeyes with 17 points and nine rebounds on 6-of-10 shooting and Kaleb Wesson added 16 points and seven rebounds but fouled out in 15 minutes of playing time.
Ohio State opened with its most-experienced players: Jackson, Kam Williams, Jae’Sean Tate, Keita Bates-Diop and Micah Potter. That group scored the first 12 points of the game and led 14-3 when Holtmann made a wholesale line change, inserting sophomore Andrew Wesson and newcomers Andrew Dakich, Kaleb Wesson, Kyle Young and Musa Jallow.
A sizeable contingent of visiting Wooster fans in black and old gold made some noise as the Fighting Scots found some traction against the newcomers, and when Trenton Tipton hit the second of two free throws after an Andre Wesson foul, the Ohio State lead was down to 16-12 with 10:36 to play in the half.
Kaleb Wesson answered with put-backs on the next two possessions and a pair of free throws on the next to push the lead back to 22-16, and the Buckeyes would go into the half with a 39-22 lead. That came in spite of missing all 11 first-half three-pointers, being outrebounded 24-23 and having five assists and nine turnovers. Both Bates-Diop, who scored on the first possession of the game, and Kaleb Wesson had 10 first-half points.
In his first game on the sideline at Ohio State, Holtmann donned a white collared shirt under a suit coat and, like the rest of his assistants, eschewed wearing a tie. As the starters were introduced, he held his clipboard while surveying the crowd and seeming to take it all in.
The game was the first between the two programs since they met during the 1939-40 season, when the Buckeyes won, 64-35.
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