Coming off of a loss to unranked Purdue and the suspension of sophomore forward Marc Loving, the Ohio State men’s basketball team needed a boost.
Enter freshmen forwards Keita Bates-Diop, Jae’Sean Tate and, as usual, freshman guard D’Angelo Russell.
But as Russell became the first freshman in Buckeye history to record a triple double, the performances of Bates-Diop and Tate were partially overshadowed Sunday night as OSU (18-6, 7-4) ran away with a 79-60 victory over Rutgers (10-15, 2-9).
It was the first triple-double by an OSU player since Evan Turner did it Nov. 28, 2009, and the first against a Big Ten opponent.
The reigning Big Ten Freshman of the Week, Russell poured in 17 points, six rebounds and seven assists in the first half alone.
He finished with 23 points to go along with 11 assists and collected his tenth rebound with 4:17 remaining in the game. He added an eleventh rebound to close out his day.
Bates-Diop and Tate filled in for OSU’s second leading scorer, and both exceeded Loving’s season average for points finishing with 14 and 20 points, respectively. Bates-Diop scored 10 points in the first half alone.
Bates-Diop was given his first crack at Rutgers less than two minutes into the game after Tate was sent to the bench with what appeared to be a minor injury.
The Normal, Ill., native connected on his first attempt less than 30 seconds after entering the game, burying a 3-point shot off a screen.
Bates-Diop’s early production contributed to a 44-26 halftime lead for the Buckeyes.
He added nine rebounds for the Buckeyes in the win.
Tate returned to the game shortly after leaving early in the first half and tallied five rebounds to add to his big night.
By halftime, OSU freshmen had scored 39 of the Buckeyes’ 44 points and finished with 61 of the Scarlet and Gray’s 79 points.
Rutgers redshirt-junior guard Bishop Daniels led the way for the Scarlet Knights with 17 points.
The Buckeyes are set to return home to Columbus on Wednesday against Penn State. Tip is set for 7 p.m at the Schottenstein Center.