Keyshawn Woods has put together an interesting body of work through the first four games of his Ohio State career. The graduate transfer, formerly of Wake Forest, has said recently that he sees his role as being both a distributor and scorer in order for the Buckeyes to be the best version of themselves.
Sunday afternoon’s game against South Carolina State seemed odd as it unfolded. Thursday, at Creighton, Woods put up 19 points to power a big win for the Buckeyes after having combined for only 11 in the first two games. You can read a feature on him out of that game by clicking here. By virtue of having interviewed him both before and after that game, I’ve written plenty about the 22-year-old guard in recent days.
But then today against the Bulldogs, Woods didn’t score. He didn’t even seem to really be trying to score, finishing with only two shot attempts in only 14:28. After the game, coach Chris Holtmann had plenty of good things to say about Woods, and with good reason: he was sick.
“Keyshawn got a little ill before the game today and we weren’t sure if it was a flu bug or something he ate,” he said.
Two days before the Creighton game, Woods missed practice with what Holtmann said was the flu. During the game, sophomore center Kaleb Wesson was limited and in obvious distress throughout while dealing with a similar bug.
Against the Bulldogs, Wesson was aggressive early and came one point short of tying his career high. He finished with 18 points and only had to play 21:03 while also drawing 12 fouls, and the coaches for both teams lauded his performance.
Holtmann said that Woods was a key part of the win even if he was confined to the bench.
“Keyshawn was having a little bit of a stomach bug today, but look at the way he was this game,” Holtmann said. “He had such a tremendous game last game and in this game he didn’t play a whole lot. Part of that was the stomach bug and part of that was just other guys. His approach and his leadership on the bench was phenomenal. That was a good example for our younger guys.”
Freshman Justin Ahrens didn’t play in either of Ohio State’s road games and made his season debut in the home opener against Purdue Fort Wayne, but he didn’t get in the scorebook until today.
After checking in with 11:10 to play in the game and the Buckeyes ahead 62-38, Ahrens canned his first career three-pointer with 8:50 to play to give the Buckeyes a 67-40 lead. Later in the game, Ahrens added to that with a backcourt deflection and steal that led to a runout dunk at the other end with 49 seconds to play.
For the game, he finished with his first career point, rebound and steal while playing a season-high 10:30. Holtmann didn’t address him specifically but was asked about the play of his four-man freshman class.
“It certainly helps to be able to play multiple guys and different lineups and new guys,” he said. “To be able to do that is really important early in the year. We’ve seen some good things.”
Senior guard C.J. Jackson continues to knock on the door but hasn’t yet reached the century mark for Ohio State sharpshooters. He entered today’s game three shy of 100 for his career and went 1 for 4, giving him 98 now for his career.
In two-plus seasons with the Buckeyes, Jackson has shot 36.0 percent (98 for 272) from deep.
Wesson has been playing with a brace on his right knee. After the season opener at Cincinnati, Wesson said it was a precautionary measure owing to something that happened in practice.
Holtmann reemphasized that when asked about it after Sunday’s win.
“He’s had a brace since he did it right before the Cincinnati game,” he said. “Two practices before the Cincinnati game he had to sit out. It’s precautionary, although he did injure his brother on the bench when his brother banged knees. I think Dre is day to day right now.”
He was joking.
South Carolina State coach Murray Garvin was full of quips and observations about the Buckeyes. He likened Wesson’s performance to Shaquille O’Neal, humorously pointed out that the Bulldogs don’t need to beat the likes of Ohio State to reach the NCAA Tournament (“Thank God,” he said) and said the team’s biggest player wasn’t available because he’s actually a starting offensive lineman for the football team.
But then at the end, he offered a few words from the heart. Earlier in the week, Garvin lost a friend of 30-plus years, Steve Bailey, to a heart condition, and he wanted to say something on the topic in his memory.
“Don’t take 24 hours for granted,” he said. “Don’t take relationships for granted. Make sure people know you care about them.”