Ohio State basketball started the game strong and holds off a late surge from Rutgers to pull off the 79-68 upset on the road. The Buckeyes finished the first half on a 22-4 run, which proved to be too much for Rutgers to overcome. Duane Washington Jr. lead the buckeyes with 17 points along with a strong performance from E.J. Liddell who finished with 15 points
1) No CJ Walker, No problem
Ohio State was without C J Walker (right hand injury) and proved they had no problem filling his production. Kyle Young and Justice Sueing stepped up big for the buckeyes as they combined for 25 points and 15 rebounds. They also played a pivotal role on the defensive side as well holding Rutgers frontcourt to 8 points. Young and Sueing have to keep the production going for however long CJ Walker is going to be out. Jimmy Sotos started for the injured Walker and started off the game with two threes. Sotos transferred from Bucknell and had not made a basket in the buckeyes last five games. Ohio State will have to continue filling the production loss of Walker if they want to contend for the B1G title.
2) How does Rutgers Recover?
After starting B1G play off hot winning 3 out of their first 4 game and looking like a potentially threat to win the B1G regular season title, Rutgers has now lost 3 straight games. The Scarlet Knights were very impressive in a close loss to Iowa, but have lost by double digits to Michigan State and Ohio State. The key for Rutgers to rebound from this losing streak is getting Ron Harper Jr. confidence back. He is averaging 21.1 points this season, but has failed to score more than 13 points in each of their three losses. Harper jr. along with Jacob Young have to get the offense rolling. Rutgers has another tough opponent next week against Wisconsin.
3) Can the Buckeyes continue to win on the road?
Ohio State has a couple of impressive wins on their resume, including wins against UCLA and Rutgers twice. The buckeyes have lacked the ability to win on the road and have taken tough losses to Minnesota, Purdue and Northwestern. Today proved the buckeyes can win big time games on the road, but the narrative won’t go away until they can consistently get it done. Fortunately for Ohio State, they will have the chance to continue adding to their resume as they play at Illinois and at Wisconsin in their next three games. The Buckeyes must continue to win on the road if they want to compete for the B1G title and a higher seed in the NCAA tournament.
Ohio State’s next game is against Northwestern on Wednesday January 13th. Rutgers’ next game is against Wisconsin on Friday January 15th.
photo via Twitter @OhioStateHoops