COLUMBUS, Ohio — With Texas Southern leading a second-half comeback, Ohio State had to hold off the surging Tigers who chopped their deficit from 18 points to two. But Ohio State had more than enough to stave off Texas Southern.
Keita Bates-Diop, Jae’Sean Tate and Micah Potter scored 17 points apiece to help Ohio State defeat Texas Southern 82-64 Thursday night.
“You learn from your mistakes, right? Over the past couple years, we very may well have lost that game,” Potter said. “There’s always going to be times of adversity, especially with a brand-new team and a brand-new staff like we have, and it’s up to us to lock down and go through that adversity.”
After Texas Southern trimmed its deficit to 59-57, Potter punctuated a 13-0 run with two free throws to give the Buckeyes a 72-57 lead with 3:41 remaining.
“They did a great job of recovering,” Texas Southern coach Mike Davis said. “It’s all about the recovery. They had a let-down, we made our run, cut it to two. Then they recovered back and next thing you know, we’re down 13.”
Ohio State led by 18 points with 17:12 to go, but Texas Southern used a 24-8 run to pull within two points with 6:58 left. Donte Clark scored eight points during the stretch. He finished with 17 points, hitting 8-of-9 free throws.
Bates-Diop grabbed 12 rebounds. Musa Jallow had 13 points and four steals in his first career start and C.J. Jackson scored eight with nine assists for Ohio State (3-0). The Buckeyes held a 39-30 rebounding edge.
Both teams struggled to find consistent offense early. But Ohio State began to pull ahead when Jallow’s dunk sparked a 16-2 run which made it 33-17 lead with 3:57 remaining in the half. The Tigers made just 1 of 8 field-goal attempts during the stretch. The Buckeyes entered the half leading 42-29.
“The first half, we just kind of stood around, let them make drives, get offensive rebounds,” Davis said.
Sophomore guard Demontrae Jefferson, who scored at least 20 points in each of Texas Southern’s first two games, did not play due to a suspension. Ohio State freshman forward Kaleb Wesson missed the game, serving a one-game suspension.
Ohio State: The Buckeyes pick up their third straight double-digit victory to kick off the season. They play one more game against an unranked opponent before facing No. 17 Gonzaga.
Texas Southern: After falling to Gonzaga and Washington State to begin the season, the Tigers lost a third straight road game. This is just the beginning of a tough 13-game nonconference road stretch to begin the season.
With Texas Southern pulling closer in the second half, coach Chris Holtmann called a timeout to help his team regroup. Rather than panic and yell at his team, he took a less-animated approach.
“Coach was very calm,” Potter said. “He was just saying the entire time, ‘Guys, this is exactly what we want. This is fun. This is competitive basketball, this is what makes the game fun.’ He was just trying to keep our heads level. It’s very easy to get psyched out of your mind a little bit in those kinds of intense situations.”
STAT OF THE GAME:
Ohio State committed just 10 turnovers. It turned the ball over 19 times in the season opener against Robert Morris and 15 times versus Radford. Jackson had just two turnovers to go with his nine assists Thursday evening.
Texas Southern surprised the Ohio State by playing a zone defense, which Holtmann said he had seen in just “two or three possessions in their first two games.”
“I think that was also a factor in us not turning it over as much is we played against a zone for 40 minutes,” Holtmann said.
Ohio State: Continues its home stretch against Northeastern on Sunday.
Texas Southern: Plays at Syracuse on Saturday