Loving scores 18; Ohio State cruises past Air Force 74-50

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) The first thing Ohio State coach Thad Matta brought up after his team beat Air Force 74-50 on Tuesday night was not surprising.

''I liked the fact, starting with the defense in the first half, we really did the job we were supposed to do,'' Matta said. ''The offense that Air Force runs is (based on) timing. You get like a flow to it, and I thought our guys did a pretty good job of being disruptive.''

The Buckeyes (4-4) never trailed while picking up their second consecutive win. They had lost four straight before beating VMI 89-62 on Dec 5.

Marc Loving had 18 points and 10 rebounds to lead the Buckeyes. JaQuan Lyle scored 12 points and Jae'Sean Tate added 11.

Trevor Lyons scored 13 points for Air Force (6-3), which had a three-game winning streak snapped.

With a team without seniors and only one junior, Matta stressed the importance of following the game plan and playing to a certain level regardless of the opponent.

He has seen more of that in the last two games than he did during the losing streak that preceded them.

Ohio State outscored the Falcons 24-5 over the last 13:19 of the first half, including a scoreless stretch of 6:44 until CJ Siples' put-back with 3.1 left.

To show what kind of first half it was for Air Force, Loving answered with a running 3-pointer at the first-half buzzer, giving the Buckeyes a 37-16 halftime lead.

Air Force scored the first four points of the second half, but the Falcons did not get closer than 17 points the rest of the way.

Air Force coach Dave Pilipovich said Ohio State presented just the kind of challenge he expected despite the sub-.500 record they brought into the game.

''Obviously they had some early loses, but that's a young team that's growing,'' Pilipovich said. ''That size and athleticism is something we need to see.''

The Buckeyes shot 47 percent from the floor in the first half while holding the Falcons to 22 percent.

Ohio State dominated in the paint, outscoring the Falcons 24-6 in the first half and 38-18 for the game.

''I felt like we were on the ropes the whole night,'' Pilipovich said. ''That's what happens when you come into an environment like this with a team that's growing.''

Ohio State dominated in the paint, outscoring the Falcons 24-6 in the first half and 38-18 for the game.

TIP-INS

Air Force: The Falcons fell to 0-3 against Big Ten members since joining the Mountain West Conference in 1999. They lost to Illinois in the 2006 NCAA tournament, and at Iowa in 2004.

Ohio State: Marc Loving scored in double figures for the eighth time in as many games and posted his second straight double-double. … The Buckeyes outshot their opponent for the eighth time in as many games, making 47.4 percent while holding Air Force to 33.3. … The Buckeyes improved to 10-7 against teams currently in the Mountain West.

HOMETOWN KID

Air Force guard Danny Hummer received a big cheer when he entered the game at the 3:18 mark. A freshman from nearby Upper Arlington High School, he made two free throws in his collegiate debut.

QUOTE OF THE NIGHT

''Danny's (Hummer) the mayor of Columbus as we tell him. It was nice to get him back,'' Pilipovich said. ''It was good to bring him home. He had a lot of family and friends here to see him play.''

UP NEXT

Air Force hosts Army on Saturday.

Ohio State plays at Connecticut on Saturday.