If Tuesday was the first real test of the season for the Ohio State men’s basketball team, the Buckeyes passed with flying colors.
Freshman Jared Sullinger scored 26 points and grabbed 10 rebounds in No. 4 Ohio State’s 93-75 win on the road against the No. 9 Florida Gators. Sullinger made 13 of 17 shots in his second double-double in as many games. Due in large part to Sullinger’s domination, the Buckeyes shot nearly 63 percent from the floor.
On the shoulders of a 17-7 rebounding advantage in the first half, Florida controlled the game for the majority of the first 20 minutes. Despite the Gators’ 10 second-chance points, they led by just three points at the break.
Back-to-back Sullinger baskets to start the second half gave the Buckeyes their first lead in more than 12 minutes, and although it was back-and-forth for the next several minutes, OSU opened up a nine-point lead with less than 10 minutes to go and never looked back.
The Buckeyes outscored the Gators 55-34 in the second half.
Senior David Lighty and junior William Buford scored 26 and 16 points, respectively. Senior Jon Diebler made four 3-pointers and finished with 14 points.
Coach Thad Matta said Monday that he expected freshman Aaron Craft to see plenty of minutes against the Gators, and that proved to be the case. Although Buford got the start, Craft handled the vast majority of the point guard duties in his 25 minutes.
Sophomore guard Kenny Boynton led the Gators with 21 points and made five of his eight 3-point attempts.
The Buckeyes host UNC-Wilmington at 8 p.m. on Saturday.