Buckeyes Have Little Trouble Trouncing Warhawks
By Rob Ogden
Ohio State opened Friday night's game against Louisiana-Monroe on a 12-0 run, and ran off 15-straight points to begin the second half. The Buckeyes didn't need much more.
Ohio State held Louisiana-Monroe to 11 second-half points and defeated the Warhawks 71-31 inside Value City Arena.
Lenzelle Smith Jr. led all scorers with 17 points and LaQuinton Ross had 15 points and 10 rebounds.
Ross has scored in double figures in each of his past four games and seven of his past eight. It was his second-straight double-double and his third of the year.
Ross said he feels it's his responsibility to go hard to the glass.
"Our team's not that big," he said. "Everybody's got to get on the boards."
Ross' past eight games have been a stark contrast to his first five — especially a three-game stretch from Nov. 16-25, which he scored a total of 7 points.
It hasn't all been good for Ross though, coach Thad Matta pointed out.
"He's been getting a couple triple-doubles, because his man's been in double-figures, as well," Matta joked. "But he is more engaged. He's playing at a higher level right now."
Smith, meanwhile, has stayed hot, as well. The senior guard hasn't scored fewer than 9 points in a game since Nov. 20.
Smith had only one fewer point than Louisiana-Monroe's entire starting five combined. The Warhawks' starting lineup sat the entire second half after shooting 23 percent from the floor in the first half and allowing the Buckeyes to shoot 46 percent.
But their replacements fared even worse, as they shot just 12.5 percent in the second half.
Louisiana-Monroe finished the game 18.5 percent from the floor and 16.7 percent from three.
The Warhawk reserves had 7 turnovers and 8 missed field goals in the second half before finally getting a shot to fall with 10:02 remaining in the game.
The 31 total points were the fewest the Buckeyes have allowed all season. They allowed 35 in a win over Marquette in Novemeber.
Amedeo Della Valle added 14 points off the bench and freshman Marc Loving fouled out with eight.
The win was the final non-conference tuneup before Big Ten play begins Tuesday at Purdue, and thus the end of a stretch of brutally noncompetitive games.
Smith said they know what to expect when conference play begins.
"We didn't perform the way we wanted to in Madison Square Garden," he said. "Today was about establishing ourselves. We know whats getting ready to come down the pipeline in the Big Ten. We've got real bullets now."
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