Having lost a rare tipoff, Kaleb Wesson ambled to the defensive end of the court Saturday for the first possession of the game. Positioned near the basket at Value City Arena, the Ohio State sophomore center saw Rutgers guard Geo Baker driving toward the right block and put his body in position for the contact.
What followed came in quick succession: Collision. Whistle. Charge. Relief. Instead of picking up an early foul, as he has often done recently, Wesson had forced the first turnover of the game. Then, at the other end, he deftly swished a left-handed hook shot for the first points of a 76-62 win over the Scarlet Knights.
Wesson said he never hesitated in taking the early contact.Join the conversation at Facebook.com/BuckeyeXtra and connect with us on Twitter @BuckeyeXtra
“I try to play as hard as I can every time I step on the floor, so I felt like that was the right play at the time,” the Westerville South graduate said. “I come from a high school where we take charges the whole game. It doesn’t matter if it’s the first possession or the last possession. I just was playing basketball.”
Wesson finished with two fouls, his fewest since he had two against Bucknell on Dec. 15, and played a career-high 37:27 while putting up 27 points on 10-of-12 shooting from the field. He also had five assists. After a January in which he averaged 4.1 fouls per game while shooting 43.1 percent (28 of 65) from the field, Wesson was back to having fun again on the court.
Coach Chris Holtmann said Wesson was better at being decisive with his first move and credited him for playing with more composure. Rutgers coach Steve Pikiell lamented the fact that Wesson hit three three-pointers on four attempts.
Wesson’s feelings after the game: “Just relief, but you know we have to get back to the next game. We still have a lot of season left and a lot of things to accomplish.”