Playing on a brand new surface in Value City Arena with a new addition to its starting lineup, Ohio State turned over a new leaf in it’s 87-44 blowout victory over Chicago State on Saturday afternoon.
In action for the first time since falling to No. 6 Kansas a week ago, the No. 10 Buckeyes had five different players score in double figures as they took the first step in making their horrid shooting performance against the Jayhawks a permanent fixture of the past.
Deshaun Thomas led the way with 17 points, LaQuinton Ross scored all of his 15 in the second half and Lenzelle Smith Jr. added 13 to lift Ohio State in its final nonconference game before kicking off the Big Ten season at home against Nebraska on Wednesday.
In his first game in the starting lineup at center, Amir Williams scored four points and grabbed four rebounds. Now coming off the bench, senior big man Evan Ravenel scored five points and led the team with 10 rebounds. Aaron Craft added 10 points and freshman Amadeo Della Valle scored a career-high 11 points off the bench.
Quinton Pippen, the nephew of former Chicago Bulls star Scottie Pippen, led Chicago State (3-12) with 12 points, but no other Cougar reached double figures. CSU has now lost each of its last 10 road games.
The Buckeyes (10-2) shot 56.9 percent from the floor a week after its 30.8 percent shooting performance against the Jayhawks led to the team’s second loss in as many games against top-10 foes this season.
By the time Ohio State capped off its win over the Cougars by scoring 25 of the final 33 points to complete the teams’ biggest blowout of the season, memories of the offensive woes the team experienced against Kansas began to fade.
But Ohio State wasn’t as quick to put the Kansas game behind it as the final score indicates, and Chicago State’s efficient shooting from beyond the arc helped the Cougars stay close with the Buckeyes through the first 10 minutes of the game.
All three of Chicago State’s first field goals were threes, the third of which came from Pippen from far beyond NBA range to give the Cougars the early 9-7 advantage. Two free throws from Nate Duhon at the 9:39 mark brought CSU even at 14.
During that span, the Buckeyes’ cold shooting from the Kansas game lingered. Ohio State made only one of its first eight attempts from beyond the arc – many of which were good looks – and the Buckeyes struggled to penetrate CSU’s zone defense.
Recognizing his team was settling for too many outside jumpers, head coach Thad Matta adjusted Ohio State’s game plan during a television timeout with 7:34 remaining in the half and his team clinging to a slim 16-14 lead.
The Buckeyes returned to the floor with a new emphasis on attacking the paint and getting out in transition, and the team scored on 10 of their final 11 possessions of the half to before taking a 37-24 advantage into the locker room at halftime.
Ohio State came out in the second half with the same approach and made its first five shots, putting together a 10-2 run in 2:16 to extend its lead to 47-26. Chicago State wouldn’t get closer than 17 points for the remainder of the game.
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