COLUMBUS — Kaleb Wesson scored 17 points, Keyshawn Woods added 14 and No. 23 Ohio State shook off a sluggish first half to beat scrappy Samford 68-50 on Tuesday night for its fifth straight victory to begin the season.
Ohio State seemed out of sync from the opening tip, as coach Chris Holtmann benched four starters for being late to “game-day preparation,” according to the school. The Buckeyes shot just 37.5 percent from the field in the first half while Samford shot 50 percent and led 32-29.
Momentum shifted with 16:27 remaining when C.J. Jackson dove into the stands to save a ball headed out of bounds, starting a relay from Luther Muhammad to Woods that ended with Andre Wesson hitting a 3-pointer.
The play seemed to spark Ohio State, which went on a 21-3 run that sealed the win. The Buckeyes shot 50 percent from the field in the second half to 24 percent for Samford (5-1).
Junior guard Myron Gordon led the way for the Bulldogs, shooting 6 for 8 in the first half and finishing with 18 points. Samford’s 7-foot center, Ruben Guerrero, who was averaging 17 points per game, was hindered by foul trouble and held to a single basket.
Ohio State came in ranked for the first time this season but had to fight hard for the win. Samford is rebuilding after losing 10 players, including all five starters, from last season’s 10-22 team. But the Bulldogs showed they have the talent to keep pace for a half with a nationally ranked Big Ten opponent.
Samford: Makes the last stop on a three-game road trip Friday night at Fort Wayne.
Ohio State: Looks to extend its season-opening win streak to six games at sold-out St. John Arena on Friday night against Cleveland State, which lost at home to Samford by 13 points on Sunday.