Big X was missing one of three former Ohio State players on its roster Friday night, but it ultimately made little difference in the opening round of The Basketball Tournament.
Under the leadership of coach Andrew Dakich, behind the play of C.J. Jackson and Keyshawn Woods and without Jae’Sean Tate, Big X fended off a pair of challenges to open each half from West Virginia and won 83-76 at Capital University.Join the conversation at Facebook.com/BuckeyeXtra and connect with us on Twitter @BuckeyeXtra
Playing with the “Elam Ending,” which turns the clock off and sets a target score of eight points better than the leading team at the first timeout after the four-minute mark of the fourth quarter, Big X was ahead 75-69 and clinched the win on a Justin Sears free throw.
The game lost a little bit of luster shortly before tip when Big X took the court. Tate, the Ohio State alumnus fresh off an appearance with the Denver Nuggets in the NBA Summer League, was projected to be a starter but was spotted watching warmups from the baseline in street clothes.
Instead of playing in TBT, Tate has received an invitation to participate in a summer camp for the Oklahoma City Thunder. He leaves Saturday and will miss the tournament. Without him, Jackson started and Woods came off the bench. Jackson finished with 22 points and Woods had 17.
If it had an impact on this game, it came at the start as West Virginia bolted out to a 15-2 lead before Big X tightened its defense and got things rolling offensively. By the end of the first quarter, it had trimmed the deficit to 22-21, and it took the lead with 7:14 left in the second on a Jackson three-pointer that made it 26-24.
When Woods capped a personal eight-point scoring run with a three-pointer with 4:57 left in the second, it was a 36-26 Big X lead after a 29-9 run during which he had 11 points and Jackson five, helping build a 10-point halftime lead.
It quickly evaporated, though, as West Virginia made its first seven third-quarter shots and opened with a 21-7 run before a 13-4 Big X run to close the quarter helped it take a 67-62 lead into the fourth. The go-ahead basket in the drive came from Jackson on a layup with 2:23 to play, and Big X never trailed again.
It will take on the winner of a game later Friday between top-seeded Carmen’s Crew, made up primarily of Ohio State alumni, and Illinois BC.
Tate watched the game alongside fellow former Buckeyes Keita Bates-Diop and Trevor Thompson in addition to Ohio coach Jeff Boals, a former Ohio State assistant.