COLUMBUS — The Buckeyes went more than seven minutes without a score in their season opener against Cincinnati, but did much better than that on Sunday, as they only went scoreless for the first 3:29 of the first half in their 76-56 win over UMass-Lowell (1-2).
While the free throw line continues to be a nemesis for the #18 Buckeyes (2-0) as well — just 11-of-22 tonight, after opening the season 19-of-29 against UC — neither of their two opponents this season has been able to use the slow starts or poor charity shooting to solve Ohio State.
Playing without starting forward Andre Wesson due to a facial injury, the Buckeyes were short-handed, which forced sophomore guard Duane Washington into the starting lineup. Freshman forwards EJ Liddell and Alonzo Gaffney were also relied upon more than they typically are.
Ohio State junior forward Kaleb Wesson led five scorers in double digits with 13 points, tying teammate DJ Carton for the team-high. Wesson also added 13 rebounds and a team-high five assists.
Trailing 6-0, the Buckeyes finally got their first bucket via a CJ Walker layup. It was the start of a 7-0 run, as Walker’s layup was followed by a Kaleb Wesson three-pointer and a Luther Muhammad jumper.
After a couple of minutes of trading baskets, freshman forward Alonzo Gaffney hit a three-pointer in the corner to give the Buckeyes a 12-10 lead. Ohio State would hold onto the lead the rest of the game.
Leading 18-15 following a Connor Withers layup for UMass-Lowell, OSU sophomore guard Duane Washington dropped in a three-pointer, Kaleb Wesson added a dunk, and DJ Carton added a layup to give the Buckeyes their first 10-point lead of the game.
A three-pointer from Carton gave Ohio State their largest lead of the game at 38-25 with 1:07 to play in the half.
UMass-Lowell opened the second half with a pair of free throws, but then Kyle Young went on a 6-0 run for the Buckeyes, making a layup, then a pair of free throws, and then a dunk to make it 44-27.
Back-to-back threes a couple of minutes later for Duane Washington and Luther Muhammad gave OSU their first 20-point lead at 50-30.
Carton drilled another three to make it 53-32.
With 11:42 remaining in the game, Carton drove the lane and hooked a pass over his right shoulder to Kyle Young, who finished the assist with a dunk. About 10 seconds later, Carton pushed the ball on a fastbreak, drove the lane, and gave a no-look pass to Luther Muhammad for a layup, making it 59-34 and forcing a UMass-Lowell timeout.
Carton added a third three a few minutes later as the Buckeyes began emptying the bench.
In the River Hawks’ last outing against LIU-Brooklyn, senior guard Christian Lutete scored 51 points. In this game, sophomore guard Luther Muhammad did a fantastic job of defending him, holding Lutete to just 9 points on 4-of-12 shooting, and 0-4 from three-point territory.
The Buckeyes finished with 19 assists on 28 made field goals.
Up next for Ohio State is a Wednesday night tip against No. 10 Villanova at 7:00 pm on FS1.