No. 20 Ohio State (18-6, 7-4) responded to their midweek loss to the Boilermakers with a dominating 79-60 win over Rutgers, handing the Scarlet Knights their eighth straight loss.
D’Angelo Russell had his first career triple-double, finishing with 23 points 11 assists and 11 rebounds. He is just the third player in program history to record a triple-double, joining Evan Turner and Dennis Hopson, and the first to do so since Turner had one on Nov. 24, 2009. It was the first triple-double by an Ohio State player against a Big Ten team. Russell sat the final 2:37 of play.
Through most of the season, Marc Loving has played second fiddle to Russell, but as was the case against Purdue, Loving did not make the trip to New Jersey and remains suspended indefinitely for undisclosed reasons. This time, Ohio State was fine without its second-leading scorer.
Freshman Keita Bates-Diop came off the bench to put together his best performance of the season and make Loving’s absence an afterthought while Jae’Sean Tate tied a career-high with 20 points.
Bates-Diop got going early, making a three and assisting on a Russell three-pointer in the game’s first three minutes. That gave Ohio State an early 8-2 lead, a sign of things to come as the Bates-Diop would finish with 14 points, nine rebounds and three assists. It was the first time in conference play the freshman scored more than four points.
Rutgers battles back to get within one at 11-10 with 14:07 left, but the Buckeyes held the Scarlet Knights scoreless for the next 5:15 of game time. That drought ended at the 8:52 on a layup from D.J. Foreman, but Ohio State had built a 19-12 lead.
A Russell quick-trigger three in transition gave Ohio State their first 20-point lead of the night, 38-18 with 3:46 left in the half. That was part of a 17-point first half from Russell that combined with solid defense propelled the Buckeyes to a 44-26 halftime edge.
Rutgers opened the game hitting five of their first ten shots, but closed the first half hitting just six of their final 27 tries from the floor.
It was more of the same in the second half. The Buckeyes got the lead back to 20 on as Russell assisted an Anthony Lee dunk on the team’s first possession after intermission. Rutgers cut the deficit to 19, but a mild 6-0 run that featured a Russell layup, a Sam Thompson alley-oop and a Jae’Sean Tate layup got it to 58-33 at the 15:15 mark, prompting a Rutgers timeout.
It was part of a strong second half from Tate as he scored 12 after intermission.
The Scarlet Knights scored seven straight following the timeout, pulling within 58-40, but the Buckeyes ended that run with another inbounds alley-oop to Thompson.
Rutgers did all they could to get back into it. The Buckeyes led 68-46 with 10:01 remaining, but the Knights responded with an 11-1 run, helped by three Ohio State turnovers. That cut the Buckeyes lead to 69-57, but Ohio State responded with an eight point run, five by Russell and three by Tate.
That allowed Russell to rest for the final 2:37 of the game as the Buckeyes coasted to an easy win.