BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — It was in fifth grade that Andre Wesson’s younger brother, Kaleb, was officially bigger than him. Since then, the older-yet-smaller Wesson brother has lived somewhat in the shadows as the world paid more attention to Kaleb.
Sunday afternoon at Assembly Hall, Indiana became the latest and greatest to pay the price. Tied at 52 with 34.8 seconds left, Ohio State called timeout and drew up a play designed to take advantage of a Hoosiers defense expecting Kaleb Wesson to get the ball. Instead, senior guard C.J. Jackson fed Andre Wesson with a textbook pass along the right wing that the junior forward threw down for the go-ahead dunk with 20 seconds remaining in a 55-52 win.
“It’s fun,” Andre said of slamming home the dunk. “That’s something you dream of when you’re little.”Join the conversation at Facebook.com/BuckeyeXtra and connect with us on Twitter @BuckeyeXtra
It was the first time this season the Buckeyes (16-7, 6-6 Big Ten) had used that play. Coach Chris Holtmann said it’s been in the arsenal all season for a situation like the one Indiana (13-11, 4-9) presented. Just as importantly, Jackson and Wesson executed it perfectly.
“That’s about a 10 out of 10 and it rarely happens for you as coaches, honestly, where you get exactly late what you’re trying to get,” Holtmann said. “Been very few in my coaching career.”
Indiana’s Romeo Langford missed a go-ahead three-point try at the other end, Luther Muhammad hit one of two free throws with 8.8 seconds left and Devonte Green’s last-second three came up empty to set the final score.
It was a thrilling finish to a close but often ugly game. Ohio State led for the entire game despite four significant scoring droughts of 4:50, 4:20, 3:18 and 2:49, accounting for 38.2 percent of the game, until Indiana took its only lead when Green hit a step-back three-pointer over Keyshawn Woods for a 52-49 lead with 1:46 remaining.
With the crowd roaring, Jackson hit a tying three with 1:11 to play. Trying to answer, Juwan Morgan threw an ill-advised pass toward Langford in the paint that was poked by Musa Jallow — a Bloomington native who never received a scholarship offer from Indiana — and stolen by Andre Wesson. The Buckeyes called time out and drew up the winning play.
“I saw the shot clock winding down, and based on how the flow of the game was and we were down three, we kind of needed something so I stepped right into it and shot it,” Jackson said.
As the final buzzer sounded, Assembly Hall went nearly silent as the Buckeyes celebrated. Moments later, the strains of the Buckeyes singing the “Buckeye Battle Cry” inside a victorious locker room echoed down the hallway.
“It feels like we’re kind of getting our stride back that we had earlier in the season,” Jackson said. “A lot of teams won’t come in here and pull out wins because of the team they are and the environment they have, so this one definitely feels good for us, especially for having a young team.”