Chris Holtmann and the Ohio State Buckeyes (13-4, 4-0) got their first signature win together with an emphatic 80-64 rout of the top-ranked Michigan State Spartans (15-2, 3-1).
The Buckeyes came into Saturday’s game with an 0-2 record against ranked teams , with losses to No. 17 Gonzaga and No. 5 North Carolina.
Keita Bates-Diop paced the Buckeyes with a career high 32 points and seven rebounds. C.J. Jackson (14), Jae’Sean Tate (13), and Kam Williams (10) also scored in double digits.
The win was Ohio State’s first against a top-ranked opponent since February 25th, 2007 when the Buckeyes beat Wisconsin 49-48. It is also Ohio State’s eighth win over a top-ranked team as an unranked team, the most among all teams in the AP polling era.
Michigan State came out strong early, jumping to an 11-4 lead just four minutes in. But Ohio State would answer with an 11-0 run to take a 15-11 lead, with Bates-Diop scoring nine of the Buckeyes’ first fifteen points.
The two teams would stay neck-and-neck with each other, neither able to take a firm hold on the game until the last 74 seconds of the first half. The Buckeyes closed out the first half on a 12-0 run in that time span, capped off by a 25-foot three-point bucket by Andrew Dakich as the half ended.
Kam Williams kept the Ohio State momentum going with a one-handed dunk only eleven seconds into the second half.
On the next Buckeyes possession, Kam Williams would again score, this time a three-point bucket, after which a Michigan State foul kept the ball in Ohio State’s hands. Bates-Diop took advantage, scoring on a layup and a free throw after being fouled, giving the Buckeyes six points in one possession and extending the Ohio State lead to 49-31.
The Ohio State lead would grow to as big as 25 points before the Spartans went on a 13-2 run to cut the lead to just 14, with the Buckeyes leading 69-55 with 6:28 remaining in the game.
The Buckeyes have had their share of late game collapses. The team held a late double-digit lead against Butler before losing in overtime and a double-digit lead against Clemson before losing by fourteen.
However, they would not squander their lead tonight, a sign of the team’s growth as the season has progressed and Chris Holtmann’s impact on this team in his first season as head coach. The Buckeyes quickly regained control and extended the lead to 75-57 just before the final media timeout and cruised to a 16-point victory.
The Buckeyes return to action at the Value City Arena on Thursday against Maryland at 7pm.