Behind size and athletic advantages, No. 12 Ohio State went inside early and often and used an early 19-0 run to down the Southern Jaguars 108-73 on Wednesday evening. With a 58-16 scoring advantage in the paint and a 31-of-40 mark from the free-throw line, OSU grabbed its second win in a row.
“We knew we had a size advantage, so we wanted to get the ball in the paint,” OSU head coach Kevin McGuff said. “We did that.”
After the Jaguars scored the first two points of the game, OSU dropped the game’s next 19 points before Southern finally hit its second field goal with 4:04 remaining in the first quarter. The Buckeyes used 70.6 percent shooting (12-for-17) in the opening frame to take a 33-13 advantage into the second quarter.
OSU’s advantages with size and athleticism were evident from the beginning, but the Buckeyes also bothered Southern on the defensive end in the first quarter. The Buckeyes forced eight turnovers and handed the Jaguars just two assists.
“We mixed our defenses up,” McGuff said. “I thought our energy, effort and discipline defensively was really good.”
The rest of the game played a bit closer. The Buckeyes outscored Southern 27-17 in the second quarter, 30-29 in the third and 18-14 in the fourth to finish off the 35-point victory.
While McGuff was pleased with his defense early on, he said the Buckeyes still need to learn to sustain their solid defensive efforts.
“We have to be able to sustain that more,” McGuff said. “That’s got to be more of a habit rather than trying to turn it on and turn it off.”
Career nights for Mitchell, McCoy
OSU freshman forward Tori McCoy put up a game- and career-high 25 points on a perfect 10-for-10 night from the field. McCoy was 5-of-8 from the free throw line and added six rebounds and three blocks.
“It was a great experience,” McCoy said. “I do feel a little bit more comfortable.”
OSU junior guard Kelsey Mitchell tallied 23 points on 6-of-11 shooting. With 3:54 remaining in the fourth quarter, she buried a pair of free throws to reach 2,000 points in her career.
With just 79 games under her belt, Mitchell became the fastest player in NCAA history to reach that mark. The crowd of 3,973 was audibly anticipating the milestone each time Mitchell touched the ball in the fourth quarter, but the guard was unaware of her pending accomplishment.
“I just heard on the sideline, they were like, ‘get two points.’ I’m like, ‘for what?’” Michell said with a laugh. “I had no clue.”
Mitchell stayed humble when talking about the journey that has led her to the record books.
“The accolade is the accolade, but I’m really grateful for the process,” Mitchell said postgame. “Been through a lot; experienced a lot with these guys.”
Senior forward Shayla Cooper (19 points) and redshirt sophomore guard Sierra Calhoun (13) were also in double digits for the Buckeyes. As a team, OSU shot 61 percent from the field and converted on 31-of-40 free throw attempts.
The Jaguars shot 36.5 percent from the field and were 11-for-26 (42.3 percent) from the three-point line. Southern was led by 19 points from sophomore guard Skylar O’Bear and 13 points from senior forward Miaya Crowder.
OSU will play the fourth game of its current five-game home stand when they face the Canisius Golden Griffins on Sunday, Dec. 11. Tipoff is scheduled for 2 p.m. at Schottenstein Center.