COLUMBUS, Ohio - Jackson State head coach Tevester Anderson admitted after the game that his team took on the challenge of Ohio State for the check that was associated with being led into a game at the home of the nation's No. 3 team. Thad Matta's Buckeyes made JSU work for its payday as Jared Sullinger had 20 points and 11 rebounds (had a double-double in the first half) as the Buckeyes emptied the bench and cruised to an easy 85-41 win.
William Buford and DeShaun Thomas each had 11 points out of their starting positions while Jordan Sibert had 11 of his own coming off of the bench. The Tigers were led by Kelsey Howard and his 17 points while Sydney Coleman had eight off of the bench.
The first six minutes of the game did not seem to favor Ohio State's pace and the Tigers actually had a 11-10 lead at the 14:01 mark and then the Buckeyes went on a 36-6 run to close out the first half. Aaron Craft started off the spark with his defensive play and despite only scoring two points on the night the sophomore guard had four assists and five steals to help the Buckeyes get things going.
"My job is to set the tone on defense," Craft said. "If I'm slacking the rest of the team has a tendency to not play as hard on that side of the ball. I have to be 100-percent on defense at all times."
Ohio State turned 26 JSU turnovers into 41 points on the night and the Buckeye bench nearly outscored the entire JSU team 38 to 41. With the Buckeyes in the midst of a stretch of four games in eight days it is a point of emphasis to try and get the Ohio State starters rest whenever possible. No Buckeye played more than 23 minutes, starter Buford and reserve guard Shannon Scott off of the bench.
"It was good to get the young guys as many minutes as we could," Matta said. "They were able to get a lot out of minutes out there tonight."
The Buckeyes have had a No. 1 vote in the Coaches Poll since the preseason and after the game we learned that the vote was coming from Jackson State's coach. He has already had a chance to face Florida and Baylor in their buildings and still has a big trip to Memphis and Cal on the schedule but admits that the Buckeye team is as complete and tough to defend as anyone as he has seen in his coaching career, a career that has included stops at Auburn and UGA as an assistant.
"Coming here, I didn't see a weakness at all for this team," Anderson said. "They are strong, but they have good perimeter shooting. They also have good guard play, which is huge. I thought they were just as good as North Carolina coming into this season and tonight just reinforced that."
On the evening the Buckeyes shot 48-percent from the floor and if a weak point had to be pointed out it would have to be long distance shooting where the Buckeyes only connected on 3 of 15 and all three makes were by Sibert. But Matta said after the game that he was happy that the Bucks were taking the right shots with only 15 of the team's 71 shots coming from beyond the arc.
"We got the ball where we wanted it," Matta said.
The Buckeyes play three times next week and start it off on Monday night with North Florida coming to the Schott. On Wednesday VMI comes to town and then on Friday the week will end with Valparaiso. Those three games lead up to another big one at home, this time with the Duke Blue Devils making their way into Value City Arena for the ACC/Big Ten Challenge.