Cincinnati – Mick Cronin's Cincinnati teams thrive in disjointed, defense-first games. But the season opener between Ohio State and the Bearcats proved to be too much of a chaotic mess for Cincinnati.
Ohio State pulled ahead by double-digits early just before the end of the first half, extended the lead at the beginning of the second half, then withstood a comeback attempt to knock off the Bearcats, 64-56, Wednesday night at Fifth Third Arena.
From 3:01 of the first half to 15:26 of the second half, Ohio State went on a 20-7 run to lead by a game-high 16 points. The Buckeyes' lead then dwindled four points with less than one minute remaining, but C.J. Jackson hit a layup with 29 seconds remaining to give Ohio State enough of a cushion for the win.
Kaleb Wesson had a team-high 15 points. Wesson, C.J. Jackson, Luther Muhammad and Kyle Young each scored double-digits. Young had a team-high eight rebounds, and Keyshawn Woods had five of Ohio State's seven assists. The Buckeyes hit 42.6 percent of their shots and went 8-for-20 from beyond the arc.
Cincinnati never managed to get anything going offensively and shot 27.4 percent from the field and hit 6-of-26 3-point attempts.
Wednesday's season opener was the first game between the two teams played in Cincinnati in nearly 100 years, and both team's early offensive outputs nearly set basketball back a century.
Neither Ohio State nor Cincinnati returned their respective leading scorers. Combined, they had just four returning starters – Kaleb Wesson and C.J. Jackson for Ohio State, and Justin Jenifer and Jarron Cumberland for Cincinnati. Early on, the loss of returning scorers showed.
It took Ohio State nearly four minutes to score its first points of the game. It took nearly 12 minutes for Cincinnati to score its 10th point of the game.
Muhammad and Young made their first career starts for Ohio State. Muhammad and Duane Washington Jr. scored their first collegiate points. Woods, a graduate transfer from Wake Forest, also had his first points as a Buckeye.
Cumberland led the game with 22 points.
Playing its first game in newly renovated Fifth Third Arena, Cincinnati drew a sellout crowd of 12,012 people.