Buckeyes polish dunks after slow start in romp
It wasn’t against a Division I opponent, and it won’t be recorded in the Ohio State official annals.
But during the second half of an exhibition game Wednesday night against Division II Cedarville, two expected offensive focal points for the Buckeyes showed what this season could portend. Ahead by 15 points and firmly in control, Ohio State junior center Kaleb Wesson threw down a two-handed dunk roughly eight minutes into the half.
Twenty-six seconds later, freshman guard D.J. Carton knifed upcourt, blew through the left side of the lane and slammed home a left-handed dunk that got the crowd roaring. It marked the first two of seven straight baskets by the duo, helping power the Buckeyes to a 95-52 win over the Yellow Jackets at Value City Arena in their final tuneup before the start of the regular season.
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Carton had three dunks during the sequence, and the final one was his favorite because it came from classmate E.J. Liddell on an alley-oop.
“I told him to throw it up, and I don’t even think he saw me, but it’s such a close group he knows how I play,” Carton said. “It was a good connection there, a good pass from my boy, so I’d say the lob (was my favorite).”
Wesson scored 23 points on 9-of-11 shooting, making 3 of 4 three-point attempts, and Carton scored 11 of his 15 points during the second half and all during his run alongside Wesson.
Every scholarship player made at least one basket for the Buckeyes.
“It was good in a lot of ways because as we expected we might, we got exposed in some areas, but a lot of good moments,” Ohio State coach Chris Holtmann said. “We obviously need to get better at a rapid pace here before Wednesday (against Cincinnati).”
The well-traveled Cedarville crowd reached an early crescendo when Hilliard Bradley graduate Isaiah Speelman tossed in a deep three-pointer with 8:24 left in the first half to give Cedarville a 23-22 lead. Holtmann made two substitutions, bringing in Luther Muhammad and Kyle Young for Justin Ahrens and Carton, and Young quickly reclaimed the lead with a spin from the left block.
The Buckeyes scored on five straight possessions, with three of the field goals coming from Wesson, who hit a pair of three-pointers and added a putback off an offensive rebound. By the break, Ohio State led 41-27, as it held Cedarville without a field goal for the final 6:52 and closed with a 19-4 run.
Holtmann started a veteran lineup of CJ Walker, Young, Muhammad, and Kaleb and Andre Wesson. With the lead at 10-8 five minutes into the game, his first substitutions off the bench were sophomore Duane Washington Jr. and freshmen Liddell and Carton. Sophomore Ahrens was next, followed by freshman Alonzo Gaffney. Freshman Ibrahima Diallo made his debut during the second half.