It was no Keita Bates-Diop, no problem for Ohio State on Monday evening.
The Buckeyes played without their junior forward — the team's third-leading scorer entering the night — and cruised to a 66-38 victory over Western Carolina at Value City Arena.
Bates-Diop remains day-to-day with a sprained right ankle, an injury that occurred in last Thursday's victory over Providence. Kam Williams started in Bates-Diop's place.
Against the visiting Catamounts, Ohio State (4-0) was led by Williams, JaQuan Lyle, Jae'Sean Tate and Trevor Thompson. All four scored in double-figures as Lyle led the way with a game-high 17 points for the Buckeyes.
Tate finished with a double-double with 14 points and 11 rebounds while Williams scored 13 and Thompson finished with 10 points and eight boards.
For the game, Ohio State shot just 42 percent from the floor, but the Catamounts struggled to get anything going offensively all night and finished the game shooting just 27 percent. The Buckeyes held a huge edge in the paint, outscoring Western Carolina, 36-10.
|OHIO STATE||STAT||WESTERN CAROLINA|
|23–55 (42%)||FGM-FGA (PCT.)||14–51 (28%)|
|5–17 (29%)||3PM-3PA (PCT.)||6–25 (24%)|
|15–24 (63%)||FTM-FTA (PCT.)||4–9 (44%)|
"I thought defensively we were as sound as we've been in a long time just in terms of sticking to every possession what we were trying to do," Ohio State head coach Thad Matta said afterward. "I don't know if they were going to hold the ball, we hadn't seen them do that yet, but I thought our positioning and activity was really, really good."
Ohio State scored 17 of the first 21 points in the second half to turn a 14-point halftime lead into a 26-point edge with 12 minutes, 6 seconds to play. A tip-in by Tate at that point put the Buckeyes ahead 49-23.
Lyle and Tate led the way for the Buckeyes in the first half, helping Ohio State to a 32-18 lead at halftime. A 9-0 run in the opening minutes put the Buckeyes out front and they didn't look back from there.
Lyle led all scorers with 12 first-half points while Tate chipped in 11 points and six rebounds. Ohio State didn't shoot the ball particularly well — just 39 percent from the field — but the Buckeyes' defense smothered the visiting Catamounts, who shot just a dismal 8-for-25 from the field.
True freshman Andre Wesson recorded his first career points as he knocked in a 3-pointer with 10:14 to play in the first half to put Ohio State ahead 14-8.
The Buckeyes will next be in action Wednesday when they host Jackson State.
"We're just going to keep building," Williams said. "We're going to try to keep winning and keep going in the right direction."