Cody Cousino / Photo editor
The Ohio State men’s basketball team made its unofficial debut on Sunday, beating Walsh 95-49 in an exhibition game at the Schottenstein Center.
Senior guard William Buford led all scorers with 17 points and five assists and preseason All-American Jared Sullinger added 15 points and six rebounds for a Buckeye team that jumped out to a 26-7 lead to start the game and never looked back.
“This team obviously has a long way to go,” OSU coach Thad Matta said after the game. “By the same token, I think there’s some pieces to the puzzle that could be pretty good for us.”
Sullinger and Buford — both returning starters from last season — were joined in the starting lineup by a trio of sophomores in guards Aaron Craft and Lenzelle Smith, Jr., as well as forward Deshaun Thomas.
Craft scored four points and added three assists and four steals as he shared point guard duties with freshman Shannon Scott.
The Buckeyes combined to shoot 60.7 percent from the field and 47.4 percent from behind the arc, but struggled shooting free throws, connecting on just 12-24 from the charity stripe.
Matta, who is known for only playing a small core of his players, inserted a total of 12 players into the game. Junior forward Evan Ravenel, sophomore guard Jordan Sibert, and freshman forward Sam Thompson all received significant playing time, but no player totaled more than 23 minutes.
Defensively, the Buckeyes held Walsh to just 35.1 percent shooting from the field and didn’t allow any player to score more than 13 points.
“I would just like to see us continue to play defense the way we did tonight,” Ravenel said. “We just got to continue with that play, and I think we’ll be fine for the rest of the year.”
The Buckeyes, ranked No. 3 in the Associated Press preseason poll, will officially kick off the 2011-12 regular season Friday at 9 p.m. when they host Wright State.