No. 3 Ohio St. 73, Wright St. 42

No. 3 Ohio State was very good in its opener.

Coach Thad Matta knows the Buckeyes have to get even better – in

a hurry.

Preseason All-America Jared Sullinger had 19 points and nine

rebounds to lead Ohio State to a 73-42 victory over Wright State on

Friday night in the Global Sports Shootout.

”(No. 8) Florida is obviously a very, very talented basketball

team,” Matta said about his team’s next opponent. ”They’ve got

more guys back off of last year’s team than us. We’ll be able to

tell a lot about ourselves coming out of Tuesday night.”

William Buford had nine of his 13 points to lead a second-half

charge for the Buckeyes. Point guard Aaron Craft had 10 points and

just one turnover in 28 minutes in the opener for both teams.

”Buford was phenomenal, particularly getting others involved,”

Wright State coach Billy Donlon said. ”We didn’t have an answer.

That’s not on our kids – (Buford is) a lottery pick.”

A.J. Pacher had 13 points and Reggie Arcenaux added 11 for

Wright State, which was 19-14 last season, but doesn’t have a

player on the roster with more than a year of experience with the

Raiders.

Bigger, quicker Ohio State was 26 of 38 at the free-throw line

compared to Wright State being 10 of 15.

”We really just came out and put our foot on their throat,”

Sullinger said. ”We just picked up the intensity. We got tired of

it being a back-and-forth game.”

The Buckeyes must replace three starters from last year’s Big

Ten regular-season and tournament champion (34-3) that won its

first 24 games and was ranked No. 1 before losing 62-60 to Kentucky

in the NCAA regional semifinal. This season’s roster includes only

one senior (Buford), one junior, and 10 sophomores and

freshmen.

”They’re going to be phenomenal,” Donlon said of the Buckeyes.

”But it’s going to take some time to have them get used to their

roles.”

Up by 14 at halftime, the Buckeyes pulled away on field goals by

Buford, Deshaun Thomas and Sullinger to push the lead to 40-20.

Buford, the Buckeyes’ second-leading scorer last season, added two

more field goals in the 10-0 run.

”We were just trying to be aggressive,” Buford said. ”We got

in the bonus and kept trying to be aggressive.”

The lead hovered around 30 points for most of the second half as

both teams emptied their benches.

The Buckeyes led 34-20 at halftime with Sullinger picking up

nine of his 13 points at the line.

The officials were busier than either team, calling 21 fouls and

whistling 23 turnovers in the opening 20 minutes. The teams

combined for just 15 field goals.

Wright State had 16 turnovers at halftime and finished with

25.

”I thought we had pretty good activity defensively,” Matta

said. ”They’re a young ballclub. For them to go on the road, first

game, they had pretty good poise. Hopefully we had something to do

with it.”

Ohio State never trailed from the moment Craft hit a 3-pointer

from the right corner to open the scoring. Ahead just 19-14 after

the Raiders’ John Balwigaire hit a 3-pointer at the 8:26 mark, the

Buckeyes went on a 13-3 run over the next 6 minutes with Sullinger

scoring six points.

The loudest roar of the game from a crowd of 15,645 at Value

City Arena came on a backdoor, alley-oop dunk by J.D. Weatherspoon

off a pass from Buford.

The Buckeyes have won all three meetings with Wright State, the

previous games coming in 1990 and 1992.

Matta, 293-88 in his 13th season overall and 191-57 starting his

eighth year at Ohio State, improved to 12-0 in openers. Matta, not

known for going very deep into his bench, played 11 and had

everyone score.

”I’d love to play everybody equal minutes, divvy up the 200

divided by 12,” he said, sniffling and with a raspy throat due to

a bad cold. ”It’d be ideal. But as we move forward, the hard part

is we play again Tuesday and again on Friday and then we have three

games in five days. The rotation could get a little tighter. But I

thought the young guys did some pretty good things out there.”

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