Led by double-digit scoring from five different Buckeyes, No. 17 Ohio State cruised to an easy 89-58 win over Bowling Green (1-2) Monday night at Value City Arena. EJ Liddell and Meechie Johnson led all scorers with 13 points, while Eugene Brown and Zed Key added 12 and Justin Ahrens scored 11. Kyle Young and Malaki Branham also each added eight points.
This was never a close game. The Buckeyes opened on an 11-0 run thanks to two three-pointers from Jamari Wheeler, one from Liddell, and a pair of free throws via Ahrens. The Buckeyes’ largest lead in the first half was 28 points at 41-13 with one minute to play.
Ohio State had five three pointers and four dunks in the first half. In the second half they added seven more threes and three more dunks. The Buckeye lead actually hit 42 points with a Brown three with 6:10 remaining in the game.
Ohio State handed out 27 assists on their 36 field goals. The ball moved very well against Bowling Green’s zone defense. They held the Falcons to 24-of-61 shooting (.393) and 7-of-21 shooting (.333) from three-point range.
Wheelers, Dealers, and Stealers
Jamari Wheeler’s offense has always been a work in progress, as it seemed in the past he didn’t have much interest in scoring. While nobody is asking him to drop 15 points a night, he continues to have moments of aggression for the Buckeyes. He hit a pair of threes in the game’s first couple of minutes and also drove the lane a number of times looking for offense both for himself and for others. He may not have scored after those first two threes, but he did have a line of 6 points, 5 rebounds, and 5 assists. Freshman Meechie Johnson also had a nice night with the ball. He hit 3-of-8 three-pointers, but also had some nice passes that led to 3 assists. And while everybody talks about Wheeler’s defense, it was Johnson who came away with 4 steals on the night.
Freshman Night For Malaki Branham
Malaki Branham had his ups and downs in this game, which is generally how it goes for a freshman. He scored 8 points on 3-of-8 shooting but missed all three of his three-point attempts. He also had a pair of turnovers. But it was far from all bad. Watching Branham play is entertaining because you can see flashes of high promise, but even when things don’t quite work for him you can see what his intentions were. You can see his feel and understanding for the game — on both offense and defense. It is similar to watching former Buckeyes like Derek Anderson and Evan Turner as freshmen. The understanding was there, but oftentimes the handles or shot weren’t. Like watching a young deer taking its first steps over the course of a couple of months. Pretty soon, however, Branham will go from a fawn to a young Buck.
May We Approach The Bench
The Ohio State bench scored 39 of Ohio State’s 89 points on Monday, which would be a welcome number every single night. The backup backcourt of Meechie Johnson and Eugene Brown combined for 25 points in 47 minutes of action. The sophomore Brown came into this game having scored just two points in the Buckeyes’ first two games, so having him shoot with some confidence tonight could lead to more of that in bigger games this season. And if his shot is falling and his defense is up for it, then that would go a long way toward providing head coach Chris Holtmann with the confidence required to play him more than a few minutes on most nights. Senior Kyle Young played just 14 minutes as he continues to work his way back. Still, in his 14 minutes he scored 8 points on 4-of-5 shooting and looked confident and decisive on the offensive end. Point guard Jimmy Sotos also got some good minutes thanks in part to the absence of Justice Sueing.
Justice Sueing Was Unavailable
Justice Sueing missed this game due to an ongoing lower-body issue. He was up in Cleveland to see a specialist in hopes of getting things rectified to a point that he can get back on the court. Chris Holtmann didn’t have a timeframe for his return and didn’t go so far as to call it season-ending, but said it was a significant injury and tough loss because he can do so many different things for the team. The Buckeyes have already been scrambling a bit to replace the lost points from Duane Washington’s departure, but they don’t really have anybody who can play the point or the four like Sueing can. It’s disappointing not having him right now, but the sooner they get Sueing situated, the sooner they can get him back.
The Box Score
[Eugene Brown header photo courtesy of the Ohio State Dept. of Athletics.]