Kaleb Wesson’s return to the floor after serving a three-game suspension was incredibly important as Ohio State posted a 79-75 win over Indiana on Thursday, but Chris Holtmann said it was the play of the seniors that propelled the Buckeyes to a win.
Keyshawn Woods scored 18 points and C.J. Jackson added 17 — including two huge free throws to clinch the victory at the end of the game — to help the Buckeyes survive a furious late-game surge from Indiana.
“Our seniors played like seniors, and that’s why we won,” Holtmann said.
Wesson, who was playing in his first game in two weeks, scored 17 points and grabbed 13 rebounds. There was no question that his return was huge for the Buckeyes, but Holtmann also said he saw something he had been looking for over the last few weeks from his team.
“In light of obviously not having Kaleb, we have kind of been trying, we’ve wanted to see that more, kind of that look in their eye. And I thought they had it against Wisconsin,” Holtmann said, according to Eleven Warriors. “They had it, particularly the last 15 minutes. There’s a look that you get, and it’s like, ‘Hey, I want to keep playing for a while.’ Keyshawn has not played in a lot of NCAA tournaments, and neither has C.J. for that matter.”
Ohio State built a 20-point lead in the second half against Indiana, only see the Hoosiers pull as close as two at 77-75 with five seconds left in the game. But during that furious run, Jackson and Woods came up huge.
Jackson and Woods accounted for 11 of the team’s final 16 points in the game, giving the Buckeyes just enough to advance to the next round. Now, they’ll try to bolster their resumé a little bit more, taking on top seeded Michigan State in the quarterfinal round on Friday.
If Wesson and the seniors give the same effort as they gave on Thursday, Ohio State will at least have a chance to pull off the upset.