Brittany Schock/ Asst. photo editor
The No. 3 Ohio State men’s basketball team kept on rolling Friday as the Buckeyes beat Jackson State, 85-41.
Jackson State hung around with the Buckeyes to start the game and even led, 11-10, six minutes into the contest. An 18-0 OSU run gave the Buckeyes a commanding lead they would not relinquish.
Jackson State coach Tevester Anderson said the Buckeyes had no weaknesses and were every bit as good as the University of North Carolina, who is ranked as the No. 1 team in the nation.
“They have a very good basketball team,” Anderson said. “I think this team has a chance to get back to the Final Four. I don’t see any weakness at all.”
OSU sophomore forward Jared Sullinger led the way for the Buckeyes, scoring 20 points and adding 11 rebounds in just 21 minutes of playing time. Friday featured more than just OSU’s preseason All-American, something Sullinger didn’t seem to mind.
“I love watching this team play,” Sullinger said. “Especially the young guys that don’t get to play a lot. It was pretty awesome to kind of sit the bench a little bit.”
Coach Thad Matta, known for not using many players off the bench, used 10 players before the five-minute mark in the first half.
Matta said it was important to get more players some game experience.
“We’ve got to continue as much as we can to develop all those guys,” Matta said. “It’s different with the game uniform on and against an opponent. It was good to get the young guys as many minutes as we did.”
With 3:30 remaining in the first half, sophomore forward J.D. Weatherspoon caught an alley-oop from sophomore guard Aaron Craft and completed a two-handed dunk that brought the crowd to its feet.
“For a split second, I thought I threw the ball too far away,” Craft said. “But he shut me up pretty fast.
“I’m pretty sure his shoulder was somewhere close to the rim. It was pretty awesome.”
Weatherspoon finished with eight points.
OSU continued to extend its lead with a flurry of fast breaks and dunks as the Buckeyes took a 46-17 lead into the half.
The margin only widened after the intermission.
The OSU defense stifled the Tigers all night. They forced 26 turnovers, which led to 41 Buckeye points on the other end of the floor. Overall, OSU held JSU to 35 percent shooting from the field including 22 percent from behind the arc.
The Buckeyes shot 48 percent and 20 percent from 3-point range.
Sophomore guard Jordan Sibert notched his first double-digit scoring performance of the season, finishing with 11 points, including three 3-pointers.
“That’s what I’ve been working on all spring and summer,” Sibert said. “I think I got a lot of confidence from my teammates and my coaches to take and make wide-open shots.”
Sophomore forward Deshaun Thomas and senior guard William Buford also scored in double figures, both finishing with 11 points.
The Buckeyes are next in action Monday against North Florida. The opening tip is set for 8:30 p.m. at the Schottenstein Center.