A week after shooting as if they were blindfolded, 10th-ranked Ohio State regained its touch.
Deshaun Thomas scored 17 points and four others also hit double digits as the Buckeyes shot 57 percent from the field in an 87-44 victory over Chicago State on Saturday.
“When we made our first shot today, I turned to the coaches and said, ‘Hey, we’re 1 for 1. That’s 1,000 percent. This is awesome,’ ” coach Thad Matta said, smiling. “I was pleased with how we shot the ball today.”
The game was Ohio State’s first since losing 74-66 to No. 6 Kansas a week earlier. In that game, the Buckeyes played good defense and worked to get open on offense but could not hit shots — even when unguarded. They mustered just 31 percent shooting from the field (20 of 65).
Against Chicago State, they hit 33 of 58 shots from the field including 8 of 17 3-pointers (47 percent).
Much of that success came after the Buckeyes had tried to shoot over a Chicago State zone. After a while, however, they decided to go inside more and drive to the basket. That strategy paid huge dividends.
“If you look at the numbers, we shot more game-like shots throughout practice and the week we had off,” said point guard Aaron Craft, who ended up with 10 points — his first double-figure scoring game since November. “We’re taking shooting a little more seriously.”
LaQuinton Ross added 15 points, Lenzelle Smith Jr. had 13, Amedeo Della Valle had a career-high 11 for the Buckeyes (10-2), who complete an eight-game homestand when they host Nebraska in the Big Ten opener on Wednesday.
Ohio State built a 37-24 lead at the half but then completely overwhelmed the Cougars.
“They came out in the second half and they let us know, ‘We’re the big boys.’ They came and let us know, ‘We are a Top-10 team,”’ Chicago State coach Tracy Dildy said. “The second half was all Ohio State.”
Quinton Pippen, a nephew of ex-Chicago Bulls star Scottie Pippen, had 12 points for Chicago State (3-12), which fell to 0-11 away from home with its fourth straight defeat. The Cougars’ regular season is half over already with one more game to play in 2012.
After hitting five of their last six shots from the field to end the half and build that 13-point lead, the Buckeyes opened the second half by making their first four attempts from the field. A 10-2 blitz at the outset of the second half swelled the lead to 47-26.
The Cougars never got closer than 17 points again.