In its last game before opening conference play, the No. 21 Ohio State men’s basketball team flexed its muscle in a 100-55 rout of intrastate foe Wright State.
The Buckeyes built on a 47-18 halftime lead, outscoring the Raiders by 16 in the second half, as freshman guard D’Angelo Russell scored 11 points in a less than nine-minute stretch to help propel OSU in the blowout win.
The Buckeyes (11-2) scored 22 of their 47 first half points in the paint as the Raiders (8-6) could not stop OSU senior center Amir Williams who posted 11 of his career-high 21 points in the opening frame.
Williams said after the game that because of Wright State’s lack of size, he, along with his teammates, were able to take advantage of the size discrepancy.
“The guy guarding me wasn’t as tall as I was,” Williams said. “So D’Angelo saw the mismatch right away and gave me a couple of early post feeds and we just played off of that.”
OSU coach Thad Matta added that getting Williams involved in the offense early was planned as the Buckeyes head into Big Ten play.
“Amir has practiced the last couple days just like he played there (tonight),” Matta said. “It was good to see him get the success and finish around the basket. He did a tremendous job for us.”
Williams scored the first five Buckeye points as OSU started the game on a 10-0 run, capitalized by a three-point make from Russell.
OSU’s defense stood tall alongside its inside offensive game, as the Buckeyes held the Raiders to just 20.6 percent shooting in the first half and allowed just six points in the paint.
The Buckeyes also tallied nine blocks in the contest, four from Williams.
Despite his big game, Williams said that whether or not he has the size advantage in a game doesn’t matter to him once the game starts.
“I just like playing whether it is a mismatch or not,” Williams said. “Doing what I do in the post or on the defensive end…I think we just do a good job of staying within the offense and finding ways to score.”
While it was inside in the first half, OSU used its outside game to its advantage in the second half as the Buckeyes hit seven of their 11 three-point makes in the second frame, three of which came from Russell.
Every Buckeye that took the floor scored at least two points, aside from walk-on Jake Lorbach who checked in with less than three minutes to play.
Redshirt-senior forward Anthony Lee did not play for the Buckeyes as he injured his ankle during OSU’s 93-55 win over the Miami (Ohio) RedHawks on Dec. 22.
Matta said after the game against the Raiders that he is not sure how long Lee will be out.
Russell led all scorers with 24, tallying 12 in each half. Russell finished six of eight shooting from the floor and made all of his six three-point attempts.
Wright State coach Billy Donlon said after the game that it was Russell’s demeanor that impressed him at first.
“What I am incredibly impressed with is, for a freshman, the amount of poise he plays with,” Donlon said. “He has a scoring mentality, but understands how to distribute.”
Donlon added that ultimately it was Russell’s shooting that hurt the Raiders and even gave the freshman guard his own title.
“His ability to make shots. He made three straight three’s on us in the second half,” Donlon said. “He is an absolute assassin out there.”
The Raiders were led by freshman guard Grant Benzinger who scored 12 points to go along with six rebounds.
With the first conference game of the season looming, Russell admitted he is not sure of what is coming down the road.
“I don’t know what to expect. I am just trying to prepare the best way I can for it,” Russell said. “I am definitely looking forward to it. I just don’t know what to expect.”
Matta said he has pulled Russell aside to let him know that Big Ten play has arrived.
“One of the biggest things for freshmen is they have to learn how to take care of their bodies throughout,” Matta said. “It (Big Ten play) just keeps hitting you. He is going to work on his game.”
The Buckeyes are scheduled to open Big Ten conference play Tuesday at home against the Iowa Hawkeyes. Tip is set for 1 p.m. at the Schottenstein Center.