The Ohio State men’s basketball team (1-0) used a hot start from junior guard Shannon Scott to pull away from Morgan State (0-1) early and secure its first victory of the 2013-14 season 89-50.
Scott scored nine of OSU’s first 11 points, hitting each of his first three shots from beyond the arc to give OSU an early 11-5 lead, which it would hold for the rest of the game.
Scott said he has been working hard on improving his shots, but that the Buckeyes’ ability to pass the ball was a big help.
“I believe I’ve been working on that in practice a lot this year. My teammates did a great job of finding me (when) I was in open spots so whenever they did that, I would knock it down,” Scott said.
Coach Thad Matta said Scott’s growth to be able to hit long range shots should really open up the rest of the floor for OSU.
“I think one day this summer he got 400 shots up and he told me ‘I’ve never done that before,’ and I said ‘there’s maybe a reason you haven’t shot the ball particularly well.’ That’s something that for him we talked about all offseason,” Matta said. “You’ve got to be able to knock down those outside shots because it’s just going to open up so much more. He had shot it so well up to this point … to see it going in with the lights on is huge for us.”
A dunk by Morgan State senior guard Justin Black cut the Buckeye lead to 18-12 with 11:24 left in the half. But OSU would close out the half with a 31-11 run to head into halftime with a 49-23 lead.
Two players who were expected to have big seasons for OSU in 2013-14, junior forward LaQuinton Ross and senior guard Aaron Craft, struggled in the first half only scoring four and two points respectively.
Ross, who ended the game with 14 points and 11 rebounds, made the first start of his OSU career after the departure of forward Deshaun Thomas to the NBA Draft last season.
Starting for the first time wasn’t something that Ross thought about before the game, he said, adding that it was all about getting the win.
“I don’t really think we thought about it too much. We got out here and got this win so we’re real excited about that,” Ross said.
Senior guard Lenzelle Smith Jr. led all scorers with 18 points against the Bears. Scott added a career-high 16 points to go along with seven assists and junior forward Sam Thompson scored 14 for the Buckeyes.
In his debut as a Buckeye freshman forward, Marc Loving had 10 points and five rebounds off the bench.
Ross said having so many different scoring options is “exciting” and can be a big boost for the Buckeyes this season.
“It definitely keeps me excited knowing we have players that can knock down open shots at any time,” Ross said. “We might have struggled with that a bit last year but now everybody’s been in the gym all summer, all preseason working on their games, so that’s a great help to our team.”
Coach Thad Matta agreed, adding that having a balanced scoring attack is something that OSU is going to look to do for the rest of the season.
“I think that’s the balance that this team’s going to have to have in terms of how we want to play and how we think we should play,” Matta said. “The rotations, I thought guys came and really gave us a good boost and that’s something that’s going to be big for this team.”
Starting junior center Amir Williams struggled with foul trouble during the game, fouling out after only 14 minutes played. Trey McDonald came off the bench in place of Williams, scoring six points in 18 minutes played.
OSU is set to return to action Tuesday at 8 p.m. against in-state rival Ohio University before hitting the road to take on Marquette in Milwaukee, Wis., Nov. 16 at 1 p.m.