Ohio State Wins Big Ten Opener in Rout of Penn State
There might not be room right now on the radar screens of Ohio State's fan base for anything beyond the top-ranked Buckeyes' pursuit of a College Football Playoff championship.
If so, we're going to need a bigger radar screen.
Quietly—because everything done in every sport at Ohio State is quiet compared to the noise of an unbeaten football team—the basketball Buckeyes are proving themselves worthy of their own No. 1 aspirations.
Saturday, for the second time this week, and for the third time this season, OSU made a very good team look very pedestrian in a 106-74 humbling of Penn State.
The Nittany Lions aren't thought of as basketball royalty, but North Carolina certainly is, and Ohio State throttled the No. 7 Tar Heels, 74-49, on Wednesday to go with a 76-51 throttling of No. 10 Villanova.
"When you sign up here, in my position, you realize that's the position you're in and I'm completely comfortable with that," OSU coach Chris Holtmann said of basketball's secondary stature compared to football. "I hope over time people appreciate how we play, who our kids are and the way we go about it.
"Listen, we've gotten of to a really special start. I'm not trying to diminish winning nine games and some of our performances. I just think it's a long season."
The Buckeyes have a deep roster that features balanced scoring, great defense and the unbridled hubris of being unfazed by their lack of extensive experience.
The veterans they do have—juniors Kaleb Wesson and C.J. Walker, along with senior Andre Wesson—were the fulcrums on which OSU turned the momentum against Penn State, which had previously beaten Syracuse and Wake Forest.
"As I've said numerous times, players win games," Holtmann said. "I thought we just had some incredible performances today that made it really difficult for them to guard us."
Kaleb Wesson scored 28 points and his brother, Andre, added 15 to lead a rout that elevated Ohio State to 9-0 and fed off 12-of-18 three-point shooting in the second half.
"Ohio State played great." Penn State coach Patrick Chambers said. "They obviously shot the ball really well in the second half. They have a lot of firepower. They're very explosive."
It's the first time OSU has scored 100 or more points in a Big Ten game in 28 years, dating to a 1991 game against Northwestern in the Jim Jackson era.
Penn State was within 60-50 with 13:26 remaining when Lamar Stevens, its leading scorer, gained his fourth personal foul. Stephens protested the call and received a technical foul, which counted as his fifth personal because it traced to contact on the court.
OSU greeted Stevens' exit with a sustained rally grew off a trio of three-pointers from Kaleb Wesson, a pair from Duane Washington and another from Andre Wesson.
"Give the big fella credit,' Chambers said. "He was making around one and one-half threes a game. We wanted to see if he could make one or two before we had to adjust. He was feeling pretty good out there."
Wesson made the Lions pay for that strategy, as he hopes to do to Minnesota when OSU resumes Big Ten play at 6:30 p.m. Sunday at Minneapolis.
"I thought he looked like who he is today, which is one of best players in country and one of the toughest matchups," Holtmann said.
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