COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) Only four games into the season, even coach Thad Matta is surprised by how many players are contributing for No. 16 Ohio State.
”I hope that we can stay with that,” said the 15-year head coach, the last 11 with the Buckeyes. ”I’ve always said this: The best teams I’ve ever coached had great balance.”
Marc Loving scored a career-high 18 points and four teammates joined him in double figures as the Buckeyes beat Campbell 91-64 on Wednesday night.
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D’Angelo Russell led the Buckeyes (4-0) with 22 points, while Shannon Scott and Sam Thompson each had 11 and Amir Williams, back after missing a game with a sore knee, had 10. Williams had a perfect night, making all three of his shots from the field and all four free throws.
Ohio State has averaged five in double figures in each game this season.
Loving’s best had been 14 points a year ago as a freshman.
”The way Campbell plays, you really have to attack the basket,” he said. ”I feel like Shannon and D’Angelo put me in pretty good positions to be able to get to the rim pretty easily. I took advantage of those opportunities.”
The Buckeyes pulled away after taking a 9-8 lead. They ran off seven points in a row and, after a Campbell bucket, scored the next 10 points to make it 26-10.
Russell hit a jumper with 49 seconds left and a 3-pointer from the corner at the buzzer to push the lead to 45-22 at the half. The Fighting Camels never got closer than 18 points in the second half.
”They all can do it,” Fighting Camels coach Kevin McGeehan said. ”We play teams that are a little more normal, in that they have a 4 man who doesn’t shoot but just screens and rebounds. Then we can really zero in on the other guys. But when they’re so balanced and talented, it’s harder.”
Quinton Ryan had 17 points and D.J. Mason 10 for the Fighting Camels (1-3), who have lost three in a row since beating Barber-Scotia in their opener.
LEARNING EXPERIENCE: Russell, a freshman who also had seven assists, said every game teaches him something new.
”Definitely, it’s a learning process, no matter who we’re playing,” he said. ”We’re not really worrying about our opponent, we’re worrying about our team. And we’re trying to get better as a team.”
STREAK ENDS: Scott had 11, 14 and a school-record 16 assists in the Buckeyes’ first three games but was limited to five in 28 minutes. He was trying to extend his own school mark for consecutive games with at least 10.
QUOTE OF THE NIGHT: After Loving said he wasn’t sure Campbell’s players knew what kind of defense they were playing, McGeehan clearly took offense.
”He doesn’t think we practice, I guess,” he said.
Campbell: The Fighting Camels (whose campus is in Buies Creek, North Carolina) came in averaging 18 shots behind the arc in their first three games, hitting a meager 24 percent.
After pumping up 14 3s in the first half and only 10 2-pointers, they settled down and took the ball inside against Ohio State and had much more success, outscoring the Buckeyes 13-10 over the opening 5 minutes of the second half. They finished 10 of 27 on 2-pointers and 10 of 26 on 3s.
Ohio State: Granted, the Buckeyes haven’t been playing teams destined for the Final Four. But they’ve still opened the season by making a lot of shots.
They made 62 percent against UMass-Lowell, 65 percent vs. Marquette and 57 percent against Sacred Heart before hitting 34 of 56 from the field – including 8 of 20 behind the arc – for 61 percent (also their season average) in pulling away from the Fighting Camels.
Campbell: The Camels flew home to grab some turkey, then will fly out on Saturday morning to Connecticut to play at Sacred Heart on Sunday.
Ohio State: The Buckeyes play again at Value City Arena, where they play 13 of their first 15 games, on Friday night against James Madison.
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