Williams scores career high as No. 12 Ohio State upends High Point
Kam Williams has always been a scorer. From the crib to college he's never been afraid to shoot and has never had trouble making shots.
Now he's ready to make a big impact on a big stage.
Williams scored a career-high 23 points, including 13 in a row for Ohio State in the first half, to lead the 12th-ranked Buckeyes to a 97-43 victory over High Point on Wednesday night.
"Being a scorer or shooter, this year I just wanted to come in and play my role -- and that's for me to make shots," Williams said after going 8 of 10 from the field, including 4 of 5 on 3-pointers, and hitting all three of his free throws. "And just bring energy whenever I come into the game."
The redshirt freshman sat out last season after getting mononucleosis several weeks before the opener. He bided his time by practicing -- shooting, what else? -- and the results are striking. In transition, in the offense, off a steal, he's a threat to stroke it in from anywhere at any time.
"That's the biggest key," he said. "If everybody on our team does their job and brings energy, we're going to be a hell of a basketball team."
D'Angelo Russell had 18 points, nine rebounds and five assists for the Buckeyes (7-1), who hit 35 of 56 shots from the field for 63 percent. Jae'Sean Tate scored 12, Shannon Scott added 11 points and seven assists, and Sam Thompson scored 10.
"I feel like this team is getting better every single day in practice," said Tate, who crashes the boards and creates havoc underneath. "We had a great week of competing. When we do that, it shows in the game. We came out here and handled our business."
Williams was the difference in the opening half for the Buckeyes, who led 43-24 at the break.
He came off the bench to score 13 points in just 6 minutes. He followed a 3-pointer in transition with another perimeter jumper, then took a pass from Scott and hit another 3. Williams scored inside and completed a three-point play, then was fouled and hit two free throws. He went back to the bench having personally outscored the Panthers 13-7.
Ohio State then scored on seven straight possessions to extend the lead to 59-27 early in the second half.
John Brown had 19 to lead High Point (6-3), from the Big South Conference.
"We missed five layups, two wide-open 3s and two free throws in the first half," coach Scott Cherry said. "So we basically gave away 12 points."
High Point: A fast start is a good thing. The Panthers won their fifth game of the season on Dec. 1 at North Carolina-Greensboro, 76-68. They won their fifth game last season on Jan. 15 on the way to a 16-15 record.
Ohio State: The Buckeyes were not a good shooting team in 2013-14. They went 25-10 but hit just 45 percent of their shots from the field and 32.4 percent behind the arc.
This year, after losing their top three scorers from last season's team, they've turned into marksmen. They are shooting 53 percent from the field and 42.4 percent on 3-pointers.
A visiting player, Brown, got one of the biggest responses at Value City Arena.
He caught a pass, hesitated in midair and flipped up a reverse, spinning layup that fell, drawing a nice ovation and some oohs and aahs from the partisan crowd.
QUOTE OF THE NIGHT
Cherry on his team's play: "Against a team like this, you've got to almost play a perfect game -- and we didn't play anywhere near perfect."
High Point: After playing before 13,012 at No. 12 Ohio State, the Panthers host Ferrum on Dec. 17 back on campus in High Point, North Carolina.
Ohio State: The Buckeyes host Morehead State on Saturday.