CHAPEL HILL — It doesn’t happen often, but the North Carolina Tar Heels were bamboozled at home by the surging Ohio State Buckeyes last night. The Buckeyes pulled away roughly midway through the second half in a 74-49 victory that also clinched the Big Ten’s victory over the ACC in the yearly challenge the two conferences play.
It was a game of waves, which saw Ohio State look like they were going to run away with it before North Carolina brought it back. Finally, the Buckeyes firepower was too much for the Tar Heels and Ohio State pulled away for good.
Everyone was getting on the scoresheet for the Buckeyes, which proved the depth of the team. Duane Washington Jr. led the way with 18 points, shooting 50% from beyond the arc. E.J. Liddell also put up an impressive game, scoring 12 off the bench. Another ten from both Kaleb Wesson and CJ Walker helped give the Buckeyes the victory.
I almost couldn’t believe it when I realized this was Ohio State’s first road game on the season. But it was. The Buckeyes had defeated Cincinnati at home, before annihilating weaker teams, all in Columbus. The biggest game was also at home, when the Buckeyes walloped #10 Villanova 76-51.
With that said, all of those games were in Columbus, so going to Chapel Hill for a first true road game was set to be a difficult task. Yet the Buckeyes seemed unrattled by the Tar Heel faithful and did wonderful in keeping their composure through most of the game.
Now, with that said, it must be mentioned that the glaring issue was turnovers. This is always a problem for every team, but Ohio State had multiple unforced turnovers throughout the game. They overcame it with their stifling defense and big runs, but the Buckeyes must take better control of the ball down the stretch, especially if the game is close.
First Eight Assessment
Overall, the Buckeyes have been impressive through the first eight games on the season. Two of their three biggest games saw them rout the competition, with the big win over #10 Villanova at home and now this big road win over #7 North Carolina. Couple this with the win over Cincinnati for the second straight year and the Buckeyes have been quality in their biggest three games. They have also handled the lesser competition, without any close calls. Kaleb Wesson continues to look more and more improved from last season, as does Washington and Luther Muhammed. Andre Wesson is still a good leader and the transfer Walker is a good play caller.
Chris Holtmann continues to display himself as a great coach, something I had said back when he was hired. Ohio State has been formidable in his first two seasons and is looking the same so far this season in the early goings.
Many analysts are hyped on the Buckeyes as a team that has a good shot to win the Big Ten and make some noise in the tournament. Some have them as a final four team. Nonetheless, Ohio State is certainly living up to their prestige to begin the season.
It’s the weird interlude of a pair of Big Ten games before shifting back to non-conference. The two games will be good ones, as the Big Ten is absolutely loaded this season.
Penn State comes to Columbus on Saturday for a noon tip-off. The Nittany Lions just destroyed Wake Forest last night and are 7-1 on the season. Their only loss is to a decent Ole Miss squad by a bucket.
The second conference game comes December 15 against Minnesota. The Golden Gophers are not to be slept on, especially since the game is in Minneapolis.
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