Ohio State’s lead was already in double figures when Keita Bates-Diop poked a ball loose from Northeastern’s Derrick Cook near midcourt. Bates-Diop laid out and nabbed the ball but was tied up by several converging Huskies, who popped it loose again.
Somehow, Bates-Diop still snatched the ball from the air and flung it back upcourt to teammate Andrew Dakich. The guard then dribbled to the right wing and hesitated for a second, which was all Bates-Diop needed to sprint toward the rim, snare Dakich’s pass and throw down a two-handed dunk. Heading back to play defense, the usually cool Bates-Diop waved both arms in the air to encourage the crowd at Value City Arena.
“I worked hard for that ball so I expected to get it back, and AD gave it to me,” Bates-Diop said with a smile. “It was just fun out there. Everyone’s playing hard, you go on a big run that kind of capped it off and it was just an exciting moment.”
There were plenty more to come. The dunk with 11:13 to play in the first half gave the Buckeyes (4-0) a 21-7 lead on the way to a surprisingly lopsided 80-55 win Sunday against the Huskies.
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Jae'Sean Tate scored 11 of Ohio State’s first 13 points, finished with a career-high 24 points and was perfect from the field on 10 attempts, giving him the best single-game shooting percentage in arena history for a player attempting at least 10 shots. Bates-Diop added 19 points and seven rebounds.
“Players win games,” coach Chris Holtmann said of Bates-Diop and Tate. “They’re guys that have ability and yet their approach has matched in a lot of ways their ability.”
Hailing from Boston, Northeastern (2-2) had played at Stanford on Friday night and certainly looked worse for it. The Huskies missed 17 of their first 20 shots and, at halftime, were 6 for 28 from the field (21.4 percent). The Buckeyes allowed only two offensive rebounds, and a 47-17 halftime lead was only that close because Northeastern switched to zone late in the half and slowed the Buckeyes.
The 30-point halftime lead was Ohio State’s first of its kind since a 53-18 lead against Missouri-Kansas City on Nov. 23, 2012.
Freshman center Kaleb Wesson returned from a one-game suspension and came off the bench for the Buckeyes. He responded with 12 points and five rebounds and might be called upon to do even more next game.
Sophomore center Micah Potter, one of only two true big men on Ohio State’s roster and the starter so far this year, went out with what Holtmann said was a left ankle sprain with 7:44 to go.
“It’s … a day-to-day kind of thing,” Holtmann said. “At this point I don’t know yet about practice or moving forward what his availability will be, but we’ve got a couple days before we play.”
Ohio State plays defending national runner-up Gonzaga on Thanksgiving night in Portland, Oregon, as part of the PK80 Invitational.