Buck­eyes hang on to beat Bearcats

The Morning Journal (Lorain, OH) - - SPORTS - By Joe Kay

Kaleb Wes­son scored 15 points, and C.J. Jack­son hit a driv­ing bank shot and a pair of free throws in the fi­nal 30 sec­onds as Ohio State held on for a 64-56 vic­tory over Cincin­nati.

CINCIN­NATI >> Ohio State knew what awaited when the Buck­eyes agreed to help Cincin­nati re­open its on­cam­pus arena. It was even louder than ex­pected un­til the clos­ing sec­onds, when the Bearcats fans were silently fil­ing out.

With a solid ef­fort, the vis­i­tors from up north spoiled the party.

Kaleb Wes­son scored 15 points, and C.J. Jack­son hit a driv­ing bank shot and a pair of free throws in the fi­nal 30 sec­onds Wed­nes­day night as Ohio State held on for a 64-56 vic­tory on the Bearcats’ long-awaited night.

“I thought it would be a great en­vi­ron­ment,” Coach Chris Holt­mann said. “I

don’t know that I an­tic­i­pated this en­vi­ron­ment — it was tremen­dous. I’m sure at times it was not al­ways aes­thet­i­cally pleas­ing, two de­fen­sive teams that strug­gled a lit­tle of­fen­sively.”

Cincin­nati (0-1) played last sea­son at North­ern Ken­tucky Univer­sity — los­ing only once — while its on-cam­pus arena un­der­went a 20-month ren­o­va­tion. The Bearcats held a pregame cel­e­bra­tion — for­mer Bearcat star Kenyon Martin roused the crowd of 12,012 with a dunk — but couldn’t make a shot when it counted.

The Buck­eyes (1-0) were ahead for all but the open­ing min­utes, lead­ing by as many as 16 points. Jar­ron Cumberland led the Bearcats with 22 points.

“It hurts a lot,” said Cumberland, who was 0 for 3 and failed to score as Ohio State took con­trol in the first half. “I don’t like los­ing, pe­riod. It doesn’t mat­ter if it’s the first game.”

Ohio State hadn’t played in Cincin­nati since Jan. 3, 1920, with the Buck­eyes win­ning, 35-13. The two schools lo­cated 110 miles apart had played only four times in the last 97 years, all in tour­na­ments.

Ohio State went 25-9 in Holt­mann’s first sea­son, an un­ex­pected show­ing that won him Big Ten coach of the year honors. They started the new sea­son with an en­cour­ag­ing vic­tory for an in­ex­pe­ri­enced team.

“I want a big­ger sam­ple size be­fore I make any procla­ma­tions, but we han­dled it pretty well,” Holt­mann said.

Cincin­nati is try­ing to build upon its 31-5 sea­son, which in­cluded the Amer­i­can Ath­letic ti­tle. The Bearcats’ sea­son ended with the sec­ond-big­gest col­lapse in NCAA Tour­na­ment his­tory, blow­ing a 22-point lead in the fi­nal 11 min­utes of a 75-73 loss to Ne­vada in the sec­ond round as their of­fense froze.

The Bearcats were prone to long score­less streaks last sea­son. On Wed­nes­day, they went more than 8 min­utes be­tween field goals as Ohio State pulled ahead, 148. The Bearcats heard a few boos at the half af­ter go­ing 4 of 29 from the field with six turnovers and trail­ing, 27-18.


Ohio State’s C.J. Jack­son, above, bat­tles for a loose ball against Cincin­nati’s Trevon Scott, be­low, dur­ing the first half Nov. 7 in Cincin­nati.

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