Entering the season, many prognosticators pegged Morehead State as one of the upper echelon mid-majors in the country. The last two games have shown that may be the case. Morehead fell, 61-55, to Florida on Sunday and hung with Ohio State for much of the game Tuesday before being dispatched, 64-45, at Value City Arena.
The Buckeyes move to 4-0 with the victory and were deemed the champions of the Global Sports Invitational. Jon Diebler led all scorers with 20 points, going seven-of-10 from the field. He made four of his seven three-point attempts. Deshaun Thomas had another big game, racking up 16 points, 12 of which came after the break. David Lighty chipped in with 11 points and seven assists.
Ohio State stepped up defensively in the second half, limiting Morehead State to 33 percent shooting and three-of-11 from behind the arc. On the opposite end of the floor, Ohio State made 15-of-22 shots and half their three-point attempts to outscore the Eagles 34-21 in the second stanza.
The Buckeyes’ bench had a 16-0 advantage over Morehead State’s and scored 22 points off turnovers. The Eagles had 23 turnovers for the game.
Aaron Craft made his first career start in place of an injured William Buford. Thad Matta said Buford has been experiencing back spasms but should be ready to play Friday against Miami (Ohio). He finished with seven points, six assists and five turnovers. It wasn’t a terrible performance by any means, but it was easily Craft’s worst game as a Buckeye.
Both teams were extremely sloppy in the early going, combining for five turnovers in the game’s first 10 possessions. The teams shot just three-of-11 from the field the first four and a half minutes. Jared Sullinger played only eight minutes after picking up two quick fouls, while Dallas Lauderdale played the last four minutes of the half with two fouls.
Ohio State trailed for nine minutes until finally getting its first lead at 11-10 on a Diebler three-pointer. The Eagles grabbed the lead again and led 17-15 when Ohio State went on a 9-0 run to go up 24-17. Morehead would never tie or take the lead.
The Buckeyes shot 41 percent in the half and made just 4-of-13 three-point shots. Luckily, they forced 13 Eagle turnovers that produced 14 points. Diebler led all scorers in the first half with 11 points. The senior guard nailed three shots from behind the arc. Lighty added nine points and three assists.
When he was in the game, Kenneth Faried was as advertised. Projected to be a first round pick in next June’s NBA Draft, the senior center had 15 points and 12 rebounds in 32 minutes. He picked up his fourth foul with over 15 minutes left in the second half. The Eagles had little chance at mounting a comeback once he was hampered. Faried led Division I in rebounds per game and double-doubles last season, with 13 and 25, respectively. He dominated Florida, scoring 20 points and grabbing 18 rebounds.
Ohio State now returns to action at 4 p.m. Friday when they welcome the Miami RedHawks to Value City Arena.