Looking like a more focused team than what we saw on Monday in a sluggish win over Wyoming, Ohio State unleashed an early 19-0 blitzkrieg and coasted to an 99-64 win over North Florida tonight in the Schott.
The Buckeyes placed five guys in double figures led by 18 from Amir Williams on 8/11 from the floor. The big man has looked like a different player in the early going as he also tallied seven boards and three blocks.
LaQuinton Ross, mired in a 5/20 shooting slump over the last four outings, blew up for 17 points on 6/9 from the floor including 4/7 from distance to go along with eight rebounds.
Aaron Craft was also on fire, hitting 7/8 shots for 16 points with five dimes while Lenzelle Smith Jr. did a little bit of everything with 10 points, six rebounds and six assists.
Off the bench, Amedeo Della Valle scored just three points in the opening half, going 1/3 from deep, but blew up in the 2nd hitting 4/5 from beyond the arc to finish with 17 points.
Meanwhile, the defense held the Ospreys to 39% from the floor with 18 turnovers.
For the game, Ohio State shot a ridiculous 69% from the field and 61% from deep (14/23), assisting on 20 of 36 made field goals.
Trailing 6-5 in the early going, the Buckeyes drained eight of nine shots from the floor, triggering the 19-0 spurt to take a commanding 24-6 lead with 11:59 left in the half.
Thad Matta then removed three starters and the Ospreys responded with a 14-4 run of their own but Ohio State then closed the half on a modest 20-9 burst to go in front 48-29 at the break.
The starters combined to hit 16 of 19 shots in the opening 20 minutes. Ross was 4/4, Scott 3/3, Smith Jr. 2/2, Craft 4/5 and Amir 3/5. Smith Jr. had the all-around game going with seven points, six boards and five dimes.
Ohio State shot a scorching 70% from the floor in the 1st half, assisting on 12 of 19 field goals. Meanwhile, the Buckeye defense forced 12 turnovers and 37% shooting out of the Ospreys.
The 2nd half was more of the same as OSU opened with a 14-2 blitz to go in front 62-31 with just under 15 minutes left in the laugher. Williams and Ross sparked things with a combined nine points while the Ospreys missed five of their first six shots with four turnovers.
Marc Loving quietly added seven points and three boards and loudly announced himself with a vicious one-handed stuff thanks to great body control to avoid the charge. I know ADV went off today but I continue to believe Loving is the guy that evolve into Matta's 2nd wing off the bench behind Sam Thompson.
The win improves Ohio State to 6-0 on the season. Next up for the Buckeyes, a Wednesday night matchup with Maryland as part of the ACC/B1G Challenge.