COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — While blowing away overmatched teams and shooting 60 percent, No. 16 Ohio State hasn’t really needed an inside presence.
But it did on Friday in a 73-56 win over James Madison, and now it will again when it takes on No. 6 Louisville in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge on Tuesday.
“Sometimes you’ve got to win like that,” said Sam Thompson, who had 13 points for the Buckeyes (5-0). “You’re not going to score 100 points every game and shoot 65 percent. We obviously don’t want to play like that, but you have to find ways to win.”
D’Angelo Russell scored 14 points and the Buckeyes’ bigs stood tall.
Starting center Amir Williams had seven points and nine rebounds, and backups Trey McDonald and Anthony Lee had eight points each. Jae’Sean Tate also provided a jolt when he was inserted midway through the second half.
“I’m awful impressed with Ohio State, their personnel and the job that (coach) Thad (Matta) does with this group,” Dukes coach Matt Brady said. “He’s got some new faces. But they played outstanding. We were fortunate to hang in the game in the second half.”
Ohio State’s guards have dominated the ball and scoring on offense so far. But in the second half, the Buckeyes got 14 consecutive points from their frontcourt.
Matta said it was an objective to go to the big men.
“(We were) trying to play inside-out,” he said. “They did a very nice job.”
Ohio State came in shooting 61 percent from the field but was held to 41 percent.
The Buckeyes led by 17 and had the ball with under 8 minutes left in the first half before playing “lackadaisical” according to Matta. They had four turnovers and made just 3 of 10 shots from the field the rest to the break. James Madison scored 15 of the next 23 to cut the lead to 37-27 at half.
While exerting pressure on the perimeter, and looking inside on offense, the Buckeyes slowly pulled away in the second half.
Andre Nation, the Dukes’ leading scorer and rebounder last year, made his season debut after a five-game suspension for a violation of team rules. He had 15 points for James Madison (4-2), which was playing its first road game. Yohanny Dalembert added 14 and Winston Grays 10.
LOUDEST CHEER: Thompson brought a crowd of 14,310 to its feet at the 15:45 mark of the second half with a vicious slam dunk off an alley-oop pass from Russell.
QUOTE OF THE GAME: Tate, who had six points, five rebounds, two steals and a blocked shot in 20 minutes, on his role: “I’m a high-motor guy. I bring the juice, as coach would say. I just try to get us a little kick-start when we need it.”
LOST PLAYER: During halftime, pictures of missing Ohio State football player Kosta Karageorge were flashed on the center court monitors. He has been missing since Wednesday at 2 a.m., skipped two practices and has not been seen since.
Fans were asked to call the police if they have any clues to the senior walk-on defensive tackle’s whereabouts.
James Madison: The Dukes had won four in a row after an opening loss to Virginia at home.
In their two losses, they’ve shot just 34 percent and have been outrebounded by 18 and had 39 turnovers. In their winning streak, they shot 52 percent, were plus-31 on the boards and averaged five fewer turnovers.
Ohio State: Russell came in as the third-leading freshman scorer in the nation. The 6-foot-5 native of Louisville, Kentucky, has been a revelation, shooting 52 percent from the field and 48 from behind the arc while also averaging 5.4 assists and 4.0 rebounds a game.
James Madison: The Dukes return home to take on Campbell on Tuesday in the next game of the Buckeye Classic.
Ohio State: The Buckeyes get their first major test of the season when they go on the road for the first time at Louisville.
Follow Rusty Miller on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/RustyMillerAP
Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.