After 10 minutes and seven seconds, the No. 12 Ohio State men’s basketball team had just a seven-point lead against High Point on Wednesday night.
Then redshirt-freshman guard Kam Williams was subbed into the game.
Less than a minute after taking the floor, Williams hit a pull-up 3-pointer, then tacked on another five points in just over two minutes. By halftime, he had 13 points on four-for-four shooting from the floor as the Buckeyes took a 43-24 lead into the break.
After the game, Williams said his success shooting the ball stems from the work he puts in between games.
“Well I try to take all of my shots in the flow of the offense, and the shots I was taking today I practice those everyday,” he said. “The key is when you’re practicing to just take game time reps so when the game time comes it’s a lot easier.”
After the game, coach Thad Matta agreed that Williams was shooting within the offense, and not forcing his attempts, which comes from an understanding of his job on the court.
“Kameron obviously had a hot hand. I think he only hit the rim once or twice. All of his shots came within the system. I thought he did a great job of adjusting,” Matta said. “Kameron has done a great job of understanding his role and what he needs to do.”
OSU’s first-half surge helped the Buckeyes (7-1) to a 97-43 win over the Panthers (6-3) for their second win in a row since losing to then-No. 5 Louisville on Dec. 2.
Freshman forward Jae’Sean Tate said the loss to the Cardinals — which came after a fun-win run to start the season — was used as a learning point for the Buckeyes.
“It (the loss) was an eye-opener, but you can’t really just keep thinking about that,” Tate said after the game. “You just gotta get up the next day and try to get better.”
After High Point hit a free throw early in the second half, the Buckeyes took over to extend their lead to 30 with 15:50 to play. The lead ballooned to 36 just over two minutes later and then to 40 points with more than 10 minutes to play.
By the 10-minute mark, Williams and freshman guard D’Angelo Russell each had 16 points to lead all players as the Buckeyes already had five different players in double digits.
With 9:11 to play, sophomore forward Marc Loving hit two free throws, meaning all 10 OSU players to take the court had registered at least one point.
Matta said he would like for the Buckeyes to keep up a balanced scoring output, but knows that won’t necessarily always be the case.
“It is something that you hope can continue. We are going to play games where maybe we don’t have as many possessions or whatever,” Matta said. “The more balance you have as a basketball team, the better you can become down the stretch and without question, getting five guys in double figures, almost six is something that as a coach, it excites you.”
Williams tacked on another four points in a row to give the Buckeyes an 85-41 lead with about six minutes to play. Those four points — coming on two mid-range jump shots — made him a 20-point scorer for the first time in his collegiate career.
OSU shot 62.5 percent from the field, compared to a 32.1 percent clip from the Panthers.
To go along with Williams’ instant-offense in the first half, Russell tallied 11 points in the opening 20 minutes as the Buckeyes shot 55.2 percent from the floor and made four of their first seven 3-point attempts.
On its way to a 19-point first half lead, OSU outrebounded High Point, 23-11, and benefited from an eight-point advantage in points off the bench.
Williams’ career-high 23 points led all players as Russell added 18 for OSU. Tate, senior guard Shannon Scott and senior forward Sam Thompson each finished in double figures as well, with 12, 11 and 10 points, respectively.
Williams said the Buckeyes can be a dangerous team when every player on the floor successfully executes their role.
“That’s the biggest key,” he said. “If everybody on our team does their job and brings energy, we’re gonna be a hell of a basketball team.”
Williams finished the game eight-of-10 from the floor and four-of-five from beyond the 3-point arc.
High Point redshirt-junior guard John Brown finished second in the game with 19 points.
After outscoring his closest opponent by four points, Williams said he’s always had success as a shooter on the basketball court.
“All my life that’s what I’ve been known to do, is put the ball in the bucket,” he said. “And that’s something that I’ve always had a knack for, so to me it wasn’t really a surprise.”
Tate added that his teammate’s success shooting the ball wasn’t a shock to him, either.
“He does that every day,” Tate said.
The Buckeyes are set to return to the Schottenstein Center on Saturday to take on Morehead State at 1 p.m.