COLUMBUS, Ohio — Ohio State basketball has an imperfect roster thanks to a mixture of recruiting misses and transfers and washouts, and nothing the Buckeyes do this season can change that fact.
With a young roster that isn’t quite deep enough, there may be more leads blown in the second half the way the Buckeyes did against Butler and Clemson during the first month of the season. But after the way they dismantled No. 1 Michigan State in an 80-64 win the evidence is officially undeniable that it’s now a matter of when and not if Ohio State basketball will become one of the nation’s best programs under Chris Holtmann.
Ohio State took control of the game with a 12-0 run to end of the first half, punctuated by a surreal Andrew Dakich buzzer beater that gave the Buckeyes 8 points in the last 25 seconds. The noise pulsating through Value City Arena dwarfed anything seen in the last five years, when the program steadily declined and attendance did, too. Dakich’s 3-pointer sent his famous father into a frenzy from the stands, and he had plenty of company from the other 17,598 fans in attendance.
— CBS Sports (@CBSSports) January 7, 2018
An hour later, fans were storming the court. The whole second half felt the way Ohio State basketball used to feel, when the Buckeyes routinely made Sweet 16s. Ohio State — which has gone two straight seasons without an NCAA Tournament berth — is tied atop the Big Ten standings after a 4-0 start in conference play.
There’s still plenty of work to do, which Holtmann was sure to point out in his postgame presser. But he also knows that this is what the future holds for a program that is wildly overachieving what others expected of a roster that had just seven scholarship players in May after JaQuan Lyle abruptly quit.
“I understand what a moment like this can mean for our university when a program like ours is being successful, how much pride our fan base takes in it, but we’ve got a long way to go,” he said. “I think we’ve got work to do in years, but I think a moment like this, if you’re saying does it give you a glimpse about what this place can feel about a moment like this, sure.”
Ohio State threw itself a two-hour party while whupping the No. 1 team in the country. There will be more bumps along the way, but this felt far more like a look into the program’s future than a one-off upset.