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Keita Bates-Diop leads Ohio State men’s basketball to victory in final nonconference game

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OSU sophomore forward Keita Bates-Diop (33) dribbles the ball during a game against Northern Illinois on Dec. 16 at the Schottenstein Center. Credit: Samantha Hollingshead | Photo Editor

OSU sophomore forward Keita Bates-Diop (33) dribbles the ball during a game against Northern Illinois on Dec. 16 at the Schottenstein Center. Credit: Samantha Hollingshead | Photo Editor

Powered by a career-high 24 points and 10 rebounds from sophomore forward Keita Bates-Diop, the Ohio State men’s basketball team defeated the South Carolina State Bulldogs 73-57 on Sunday night in Columbus.

Bates-Diop scored 17 of his 24 points in the first half, including five 3-pointers, which powered the Buckeyes to a 34-21 halftime lead that they never looked back from.

Bates-Diop said it felt great to see so many of his shots fall in after several rattled out the previous game against Mercer.

“My teammates got me in the right spots, I was really open most of the time and I just knocked down shots,” he said.

OSU coach Thad Matta said although the team earned its fourth win in a row, he wasn’t happy with the number of turnovers in the first half.

“The first half we weren’t very sharp at all, of the eight turnovers, five or six were unforced,” Matta said. “We’re not a very good offensive team when we’re not taking care of the ball.”

Matta commended freshman guard A.J. Harris for getting the ball rolling.

“A.J. really came in and kinda lit the wick for us,” Matta said.

South Carolina State coach Murray Garvin said Harris’ play was the difference in the game.

“He changed the tempo of the game,” Garvin said. “He’s so quick (that) he can turn off the lights and be in the bed before it gets dark.”

Harris accounted for six of OSU’s 19 assists on the night, which were highlighted by five alley-oops. The Dayton native said things are finally starting to click for him in his debut campaign.

“My goal is to just share the ball more,” Harris said. “So that’s all we’ve been practicing, is just sharing the ball more, making the extra pass to our teammates that are open. Just making the extra pass. I was seeing the floor really well and my big man was running, my two and three guards were running, so it really opened up the floor for me.”

The Buckeyes’ next game is scheduled against the Minnesota on Wednesday, the first of the Big Ten season. Bates-Diop said the conference season brings on a whole new mentality, one that the team should be ready for come next Wednesday.

“I think we’re finally hitting our stride,” Bates-Diop said. “Going into the Big Ten, that’s going to be huge for us.”

The Buckeyes saw improved performance from its 3-point shooters, as OSU shot 36 percent from three after shooting just 13.6 percent against Mercer.

Matta said he knows his team has to be more consistent for it to be able to compete in the Big Ten.

“We’ve shown that we can play some really good basketball, and we’ve shown we can play some really bad basketball,” Matta said. “We’re a team that has to be dialed in to everything that we’re doing. The thing that excites me is we’ve seen one through 12, guys can play some really high-level basketball. Finding that consistency is going to be what the next 10 weeks is about.”

Game notes

  • Freshman forward Mickey Mitchell scored his first points as a Buckeye in his second game after being declared eligible by the NCAA.
  • OSU’s largest lead was 24 points.
  • OSU outrebounded South Carolina State 50-32.
  • OSU had nine blocked shots while the Bulldogs failed to register one.

 

Correction 12/28: The score has been updated to reflect the correct final score.

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