A change of scenery didn’t seem to affect the No. 12 Ohio State men’s basketball team as it rolled to yet another blowout victory, extending its record to 9-1 on the season.
Playing a home game down the road at Nationwide Arena in downtown Columbus, the Buckeyes jumped out to a 17-2 lead and didn’t look back as they defeated the North Carolina A&T Aggies, 97-55, Wednesday night.
The early run by OSU was started by sophomore forward Marc Loving, who buried a three-pointer to open the scoring. Freshman guard D’Angelo Russell also contributed to the fast start, as he added seven points in the first 3:20 of the game.
Loving finished the night with 15 points on 4-5 shooting. Russell led the Buckeyes with 21 points on 7-14 shooting.
Loving said after the game that playing at Nationwide Arena gave the game a slightly different atmosphere.
“It had a Big Ten Tournament feel to it,” Loving said. “Coming into the game, being in a different facility than the Schott, it was something that we are not used to.”
The Aggies (1-11) tried to make a late run at the end of the first half, as a pair of three-pointers by junior guard Arturs Bremers cut the OSU lead to 39-26 at halftime.
OSU coach Thad Matta said after the game that the mini-run by the Aggies was due to missed opportunities.
“I think that we went through a couple lulls where shots weren’t falling,” Matta said. “We just weren’t as aggressive as we needed to be on the defensive end.”
OSU senior guard Shannon Scott, who recorded a career high seven steals, to go along with eight points and 12 assists said after the game that Matta got on his team at halftime.
“We were up only 13 points I think at halftime and we felt like we should have been up by a lot more,” Scott said. “We took pride in playing more defense and getting more shots up.”
The Buckeyes would pull away early after the break, as OSU outscored the Aggies 28-10 in the first eight minutes of the second half.
Redshirt-freshman guard Kam Williams scored all 15 of his points in the second half, as he shot 6-11 from the field.
With nine minutes left to play in the game, all 10 Buckeyes that had taken the floor had scored at least two points.
The Buckeyes turned the Aggies over a total of 26 times throughout the course of the game, which led to 40 points.
Aggie coach Cy Alexander said after the game that by the time his team settled in to the game, it was too late.
“We were a little intimidated early on and got down,” Alexander said. “I thought we competed really hard all game, especially in the first half. Give Ohio State a lot of credit, they took advantage of our turnovers.”
Despite the blowout win, the Aggies hung with OSU on the boards as each team recorded 32 rebounds.
OSU also converted on its first 17 free throws of the game and finished 20-22 from the charity stripe, with the first miss coming from freshman forward Jae’Sean Tate.
The free throw shooting is something Matta said he thought the Buckeyes could take advantage of coming into the game.
“We felt like we were going to get to the line tonight, (and I) was very pleased with how guys knocked them down,” he said.
The Aggies were led by junior forward Bruce Beckford, who scored 15 of the Aggies first 20 points and finished with a game-high 26 points on 11-20 shooting
Although OSU won in convincing fashion, Matta was not pleased with the way Beckford dominated the Buckeye defense.
“No. 32 (Beckford) had just an incredible night. I told our guys at one of the timeouts, ‘we are making this guy look like a first round draft pick,’” Matta said.
The Buckeyes now turn their attention to a showdown with the No. 24 North Carolina Tar Heels in Chicago on Saturday afternoon. The matchup will be just the second ranked opponent that OSU will have faced thus far this season.
Matta said after the game that he had already started looking at film on the Tar Heels.
“Obviously, (they are) a tremendous basketball team. Their size is something that (North) Carolina has always had. A lot like Louisville, they are going to try and pound the ball inside on us.”
The Buckeyes are set to return to the court Saturday in Chicago against the North Carolina Tar Heels in the CBS Sports Classic. Tip is scheduled for 1 p.m. EST.