COLUMBUS, Ohio - In Friday night's season opener the Buckeyes emptied the bench and played all 12 scholarship players with 11 guys scoring as the team shook off some sloppy shooting to top in-state foe Wright State 73-42. A slimmed down Jared Sullinger led the way with 19 points and nine rebounds and William Buford had 13 points and four assists on the night.
Despite holding a 32-point lead at one point and ending with a 31-point win it never really felt as if Ohio State found much of a rhythm. Part of that could be attributed to the amount of whistles during the game with a total of 45 personal fouls being called. But The Buckeyes still managed to pull away in the second half and extend a 14-point lead into a comfortable win.
"It was an odd game," Ohio State head coach Thad Matta said. "The thing we kept telling our guys in timeouts was not losing our intensity and I thought we did a pretty decent job of that, especially on the defensive end."
The level of competition is going to get a lot tougher the next time that the Buckeyes take the court with the Florida Gators (1-0) coming to town. The Buckeyes were afforded the opportunity to try a lot of different things out on Friday night however by emptying the bench and having nine players log double-digit minutes.
"I have always said that I would love to play everyone equal minutes across the board," Matta said. "It would be ideal but as we move forward and the hard part is we play again Tuesday, play again Friday and then have three games in five days... the rotation can get a little bit tighter. I thought the young guys did some pretty good things out there."
The Buckeyes went to the line 38 times and only connected on 26 attempts (68.4-percent) and kept a young team that likes to go up and down the court at bay with a potential lack of flow.
"We got into a flow at the free throw line, I know that much." Sullinger said. "If we really didn't flow within the game we sure did flow to the free throw line."
Ohio State was held to 40-percent shooting in the first half and only Sullinger had more than six points going into the halftime locker room. The veteran players stepped up during the halftime break and drove some points home with the young team.
"We just picked up the intensity," Sullinger said. "We put our foot on their throat. We got tired of it being a back-and-forth game... even though we were up 14 (points), it was still back-and-forth. We decided to put our foot on their throat and stop the back-and-forthness."
"They made it about William Buford in the second half," Wright State head coach Billy Donlon said after the game. "Everything was run through Buford and we had no answer."
There was a question going into the game if the Buckeyes would play freshman Trey McDonald or not but Matta ended the suspense with 3:11 to go in the game by putting the center in the lineup for DeShaun Thomas.
Ohio State did have one injury scare in the game when J.D. Weatherspoon appeared to roll an ankle while defending a three point attempt by WSU's Armond Battle. The sophomore forward did not return to action but Matta said after the game that he should be good to go.
The Bucks return to action on Tuesday night with the aforementioned Florida Gators for an 8:00 pm (EST) nationally televised game. It is the second game of Ohio State's run through the Global Sports Shootout. In 2010 the Buckeyes went undefeated in the Shootout with wins over the Gators, North Carolina A&T, UNC-Wilmington and Morehead State.