Ohio State's post-Kentucky hangover lasted exactly one half on Tuesday night, but Thad Matta's group made sure it didn't extend beyond that.
After a sluggish opening 20 minutes, the Buckeyes turned it on in the second half against visiting Mercer, starting the second frame with a 19-6 run to push a one-point halftime advantage to a 14-point edge en route to a 64-44 victory at the Schottenstein Center.
A put-back dunk by Trevor Thompson started the second half. That was soon followed by a pair of three-point plays from JaQuan Lyle and Keita-Bates-Diop and Ohio State never really looked back.
The Buckeyes won by 20 points despite a dreadful shooting effort from behind the 3-point line. Ohio State missed its first 16 attempts from downtown before a Bates-Diop triple with 5 minutes, 19 seconds remaining ended the drought.
Lyle played one of his better games, leading the way for the Buckeyes with 18 points. Jae'Sean Tate added 13 points and six rebounds, while Bates-Diop finished with 12 points and eight boards. Ohio State shot 43 percent from the field overall and forced 25 turnovers by the Bears.
Mickey Mitchell made his long-awaited debut for the Buckeyes and checked into the game with just over two minutes to play in the first half. Mitchell drew a charge on his first defensive possession and finished the game with no points and three rebounds.
Ohio State's first half against the Bears was completely opposite from how it played Saturday against Kentucky. The Buckeyes held a 25-24 lead at the break, but did not play particularly well.
Ohio State made just 1 of its first 11 shots from the floor as it fell behind by as many as seven early on, 20-13. The Buckeyes closed on a 12-4 run, though, that included an 8-0 spurt. Lyle scored six of Ohio State's point in that span, including transition layup that gave the Buckeyes their first lead at 21-20.
Overall, Ohio State shot just 11 for 29 from the field in the first half (38 percent) and was a dismal 0 for 9 from behind the 3-point lead. The Buckeyes also did themselves no favors by converting just 3 of 7 from the free-throw line and committing 12 first-half turnovers.
Lyle led the way with those six first-half points. Tate had five points and three rebounds, while Thompson had four points and five boards for the Buckeyes in the first half.
Ohio State will next be in action 6 p.m. Sunday when it hosts South Carolina State.