Ohio State Basketball: Kam Williams saved his best for last

BOISE, ID - MARCH 15: Kam Williams
BOISE, ID - MARCH 15: Kam Williams /

Ohio State struggled to find separation, but Kam Williams wouldn’t let the South Dakota State Jackrabbits end his college career.

Yesterday the No. 5 seed Ohio State Buckeyes played their first tournament game since 2015 and they faced a dangerous No. 12 seeded South Dakota State team. The 40 minutes of action contained plenty of back-and-forth but Buckeye seniors rose to the occasion.

In the first half, Keita Bates-Diop was absolutely stunning, scoring 15 points in the first 20 minutes. While his scoring impact faded in the second half, Bates-Diop played an overall impressive game. He scored 24 points on 7-of-19 shooting with 12 rebounds, of course playing his normal solid defense.

However, South Dakota State had a conference player of the year of their own; Mike Daum gave the Buckeyes a whole lot of trouble.

Over the course of his 37 minutes, Daum scored 27 points on 9-of-20 shooting, but his scoring demoralized Ohio State. At times, it just didn’t seem he or his teammates could miss. Late in the second half his impact put the blood of the upset in the water.

Enter yesterday’s hero, Kam Williams.

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Ohio State’s fifth-year senior is playing his last games at the college level but has been something of a controversial figure this season. After being suspended for three games for violating team rules, the Buckeyes seemed less cohesive, with Williams playing weak basketball.

Yesterday he played his tail off. After injuring his ankle in the first half, he went absolutely bananas in the second. Williams scored 22 points on 8-of-15 shooting,with 5 rebounds and 3 steals, and his ability to get fouled on key three-point takes late allowed the Buckeyes to steal a victory.

Without Williams the Buckeyes don’t win yesterday’s game. Bates-Diop didn’t have the formula late, but Kam carried the scoring load.

Next: Final Four predictions

Overall, yesterday’s victory inspired; the Buckeyes can hold ground. Now Saturday evening they will be playing the role of underdog against No. 4 seeded Gonzaga.