Back-to-back E.J. Liddell buckets gave Ohio State a 5-0 lead. A jumper and a 3-pointer from Justice Sueing extended it to 10-0. By the end of the sixth minute, Ohio State had raced out to an unimpeachable 22-0 advantage on Illinois State that effectively ended anybody's idea that the 2020-21 season-opener would turn into anything other than a rout.
|#23 OHIO STATE||42||52||94|
Powered by Sueing's game-high 19 points and Liddell's 16, the Buckeyes led by at least 14 points the remainder of the game and pulled ahead for an uneventful 94-67 victory on Wednesday afternoon at the Schottenstein Center.
Ohio State, playing its first game since losing at Michigan State on March 8, earned its first win in 265 days. The matchup between Big Ten and Missouri Valley Conference foes was held in an almost entirely empty arena. Players sat in spaced-out chairs on the bench, coaches and managers wore masks, families were not allowed in attendance and about two dozen media members were spread out with masks on.
Sueing, playing his first game as a Buckeye, showed why Chris Holtmann's staff made it a priority to land him when he entered the transfer portal while at Cal. The 6-foot-7 wing scored his 19 points by hitting 8-of-9 shots and going 2-for-3 from the foul line. He grabbed eight rebounds, too. Combined with Liddell, who had 16 points on 5-of-9 shooting, they provided Ohio State with a pair of high-level scorers in the team's season debut. Liddell went 6-for-9 from the free-throw stripe.
Freshman forward Zed Key (12 points), junior guard Duane Washington Jr. (12 points) and redshirt senior guard CJ Walker (10 points) also scored in double-figures.
Key scored six points from the foul line and grabbed five rebounds, including three on the offensive end. Washington struggled from the field, going 4-of-12. Walker dished out a team-high six assists.
Illinois State never got much going offensively, shooting 38 percent from the field compared to Ohio State's 48 percent, and turning it over 16 times. A larger Buckeyes squad had a 48-14 edge in points in the paint.
Next up: Ohio State stays at home to take on UMass-Lowell on Sunday. Due to hockey, the basketball game will take place at the Covelli Center.
- Seth Towns, a redshirt junior graduate transfer from Harvard, did not play as he continues to rehabilitate his knee injury. He also arrived late due to a minor car accident, per an Ohio State spokesperson. From Ohio State: "All parties involved are safe."
- A cardboard cutout of Henry Smith – otherwise known as Coach Bob – was placed behind the Ohio State bench. He was a Columbus basketball stalwart.
- Musa Jallow, a game-time decision per Holtmann, played his first minutes since the end of the 2018-19 season. He missed the entirety of last season with an ankle injury that required multiple surgeries. He did not score any points but grabbed three rebounds.
- Jansen Davidson, a walk-on who just added to the roster, scored three points in his Ohio State debut. He joins Harrison Hookfin as the team's second walk-on.