Ohio State dominates opponent in NCAA opener


By BOB BAPTIST

The Columbus Dispatch

CLEVELAND

Thanks to the shot clock, the stalling, four-corners offense made famous by legendary North Carolina coach Dean Smith is history.

The worst thing offenses can do now is what a number of Big Ten opponents opted for against Ohio State this season: stall for 25 of their allotted 35 seconds of possession time, try to score in the last 10 and don’t shoot until the last five.

Play keepaway, in other words.

Freed from the constraints of conference play, the Buckeyes never expected to see it in their NCAA tournament debut on Friday against Texas-San Antonio.

“We had obviously prepared them wrong,” coach Thad Matta said.

It proved to be only a speed bump.

Shooting better than 55 percent from the field and assisting on an NCAA tournament-record 26 of its 29 field goals, Ohio State overpowered the Roadrunners 75-46 in the second round of the East Regional in Quicken Loans Arena.

William Buford scored 18 points to lead the Buckeyes, who made 12 of 24 3-pointers. Jon Diebler added 14 points and Deshaun Thomas 13, and Jared Sullinger finished with 11 points and nine rebounds.

“We wanted to send a message today to let everybody know that we’re serious and we’re here on business,” Buford said.

Ohio State (33-2) will play No. 8 seed George Mason (27-6) on Sunday. The Patriots rallied from a 10-point deficit in the second half to eliminate Villanova 61-57.

Devin Gibson scored 24 points to lead Texas-San Antonio (20-14), the 16th seed.

“We had to shorten the game as much as we can,” UTSA coach Brooks Thompson said. “It’s hard to go out and play that way. Our guys showed a great amount of discipline. The goal was to keep the crowd out of it as much as we can and to have a chance to be in it in last four minutes.”

The only chance the Roadrunners had was in the first four minutes, when they made four of their first five shots to take a 9-5 lead. A 3-pointer by Melvin Johnson III with three seconds on the shot clock punctuated the start.

“We were pretty surprised,” Diebler said. “I think with the film that we watched in the short period of time that we had, we didn’t really see that. But we have to be ready for whatever way teams will play against us.”

The Buckeyes outscored the Roadrunners 31-8 the next 141/2 minutes and went to halftime leading 37-21.

Buford and Diebler each had a pair of 3-pointers apiece in the run. They scored 24 of Ohio State’s 32 points in the first half and made 9 of 15 shots from the field as Buckeyes shot 62.5 percent.

“The biggest thing we were talking about in timeouts was we had to keep our focus, keep our concentration,” Matta said. “I think we had 30 possessions in the first half and 37 points. I don’t know what we ended up for in the game, but that was big for us.”

Ohio State leads the nation in points per possession (1.2). A five-point possession made possible by a technical foul on Thompson helped the Buckeyes increase their lead to 20 points in the first 4:01 of the second half, and they led by as many as 38 before it was over.

A heavily scarlet-and-gray-clad crowd of 20,164 was a record for a college basketball game in the state of Ohio.

“It was awesome,” Diebler said. “If it’s possible to get the amount of Ohio State fans again for the next game, that will be great. It helped us out a lot. It felt like a home game.”

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