Small bowls of ice might have been a requirement on Ohio State's bench in the early stretches against Western Michigan.
The hands of the Buckeyes' shooters were that hot.
After a middling 33% start to the season from distance, Ohio State lit up Western Michigan with a 7-for-10 tally to open the two sides' matchup on Sunday en route to a 10-for-25 finish from deep.
The Buckeyes grabbed a 20-point lead within the first 11 minutes of action and cruised to a 73-56 victory against the Broncos in Ohio State’s first game of the Emerald Coast Classic.
Five Ohio State players finished in double figures. Jamison Battle and Roddy Gayle Jr. led the way with 13 points each, with Battle going 3-of-7 from downtown. Bruce Thornton scored 12 while Dale Bonner and Zed Key each had 11.
Battle kicked off the scoring instantaneously for Ohio State, hitting nothing but net on a catch-and-shoot from the left wing to put the Buckeyes ahead 3-0.
Thornton cashed in a triple of his own and an and-one turnaround jumper from Battle from the baseline sparked a 7-0 Ohio State run, capped by a 3 from Gayle, to put the Buckeyes up 16-6 with 13:52 to play in the first half.
Western Michigan countered with a 3-pointer from forward Max Burton, only for Key to hip an open triple from the top of the key and make it 19-9 Ohio State at the under-12 media timeout.
That shot seemed to fully unleash Ohio State's 3-point shooting.
Bonner canned a pair of threes and Thornton hit another of his own to cap a 14-0 Buckeye run and a 7-for-10 start from downtown. OSU led 30-9 and the game was never in question from there.
Even when the Broncos responded with a 6-0 burst of their own, a Battle three and a monstrous transition dunk from Gayle built the edge back to 37-15 Ohio State with 3:49 to play in the first half.
Finishing 8-for-15 from three in the first half with a 15-6 edge in bench scoring, the Buckeyes led 41-21 heading into the locker room.
|OHIO STATE||STAT||WESTERN MICHIGAN|
|29-62 (46.8%)||FGM-FGA (PCT.)||23-62 (37.1%)|
|10-25 (40%)||3PM-3PA (PCT.)||7-26 (26.9%)|
|5-11 (45.5%)||FTM-FTA (PCT.)||3-9 (33.3%)|
Ohio State's 3-point shooting largely cooled off after halftime, with the Buckeyes going through a 1-for-7 cold stretch after their 7-for-10 start. There was enough 2-point scoring to ensure the team's lead didn't fade, however.
The Buckeyes showed crisp passing on fast breaks to set up great looks for Felix Okpara and Gayle, the latter finishing an alley-oop with a flashy layup.
Battle broke through to snap the weak streak of outside shooting before Key cashed in a close-range baby hook to close an extended 16-2 Ohio State run and make the Buckeyes' lead 59-28 with 13:41 to play.
Bonner broke through to double figures for the first time in his career with the Buckeyes, making a 3-pointer to put Ohio State up 68-37 and give him 11 points on the evening.
Even as the Buckeyes went 5:15 without scoring a basket following Bonner's make, the Broncos still didn't cut their deficit back below 20 until less than three minutes remained. Ohio State started emptying its bench with four minutes to play, with Kalen Etzler, Austin Parks and Hardman subbing in to ride out the win.
Ohio State travels to Niceville, Fla. on Friday where the team will meet Alabama for its first game away from Value City Arena this year. The game will be the Buckeyes' second in the Emerald Coast Classic and tips off at 7 p.m. on CBS Sports Network.
- Ohio State dipped into the far reaches of its reserves early, with guard Bowen Hardman entering to play the final 57 seconds of the first half.
- Chris Holtmann had been looking for better rebounding numbers from Felix Okpara and got them on Sunday. After averaging just 2.7 boards per game through Ohio State's first three contests, Okpara hauled in 11 rebounds to go with six points and four blocked shots against Western Michigan.
- Devin Royal played a career-high 17 minutes against the Broncos, though he scored just two points.