ANNAPOLIS, Md. – For the first time in Thad Matta's tenure, the Buckeyes opened the season on the road and had a successful trip, earning a 78-68 victory over Navy in the Veterans Classic.
The win came thanks in no small part to stellar shooting from the Buckeyes, particularly from behind the arc. The Buckeyes finished 10-18 from three-point range (55.6 percent).
After a slow offensive start from both teams, Ohio State took a lead midway through the first half and held it through to halftime despite getting outrebounded to a smaller team, turning the ball over seven times and shooting just 33 percent from the line.
Navy had eight first-half offensive rebounds and seven second-chance points; Ohio State had one and zero respectively.
The Buckeyes' first-half lead was due in large part to their three-point shooting performance. Ohio State shot 5-for-9 (56 percent) from behind the arc, with four different players connecting from three.
Although turnovers were still an issue, the Buckeyes played much better on the boards and extended their lead thanks to continued hot shooting from behind the arc as well as phenomenal play from Keita Bates-Diop and Kam Williams.
|27-47 (57%)||FGM-FGA (PCT.)||23-61 (38%)|
|10-18 (56%)||3PM-3PA (PCT.)||8-29 (29%)|
|14-21 (67%)||FTM-FTA (PCT.)||14-24 (58%)|
Bates-Diop was the best player on the court Friday night, leading the Buckeyes in rebounding with 14 and adding 14 points to record a double-double. Meanwhile, Williams was on fire, shooting 7-for-9 from the field and 5-for-6 from three for a game-high 23 points.
”I was just taking what the defense was giving me,” Williams said after the game. “They were just pressing and playing off, so I was just letting it fly.”
Three of Ohio State four newcomers made their Buckeye debuts Friday night with Micah Potter getting the start at center and C.J. Jackson and Andre Wesson coming off the bench.
Jackson played heavy minutes, getting the nod over starter JaQuan Lyle for much of the second half.
Lyle struggled in the first half, scoring just three points coming on his final shot of the half. Jackson's quickness aided the Buckeye press defense and seemed to add a spark to the offense as well. He finished with four points, nine assists and six rebounds.
“I think he’s a little energizer bunny,” said Williams. “It just ignited us in the second half and that’s what we needed.”
Ohio State returns to action Monday with its home opener against North Carolina Central at 9 p.m. in Value City Arena.