COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — D’Angelo Russell is not exactly certain who’s in the Big Ten. He just knows that he’s excited about finally finding out.
Russell scored 24 points on a stellar shooting night and Amir Williams added a career-high 21 to lead No. 21 Ohio State past Wright State 100-55 on Saturday.
The Buckeyes (11-2) begin Big Ten by hosting Iowa on Tuesday.
“Last year was probably (the first time) I figured out what teams were in the SEC, what teams were in the Big Ten, what teams were in the ACC,” said Russell, a freshman from Louisville. “But I’m just looking forward to it. I’ve heard there’s nothing like it.”
Russell was 7 of 8 from the field, including 6 for 6 behind the arc, and 4 of 5 on free throws against overmatched Wright State, which didn’t start anyone over 6-foot-7. That caught the attention of the Buckeyes, who consistently went to the 6-11 Williams, whose previous best was 18 points a year ago.
“Amir Williams is not the second option right now for Ohio State,” said Wright State coach Billy Donlon. “But right away they immediately recognized the starting lineup and they went right to town.”
It was clear the Buckeyes wanted to light a fire under their starter in the post.
“The guy guarding me wasn’t as tall as I was, so D’Angelo saw the mismatch right away and he gave me a couple of easy post feeds and we played off of that,” Williams said. “Coach (Thad Matta) was also saying that after this game stuff gets real in the Big Ten. So we have to be able to establish ourselves (inside) because we know how it’s going to be for these next 18 games.”
Kam Williams added 15 and Marc Loving 13 points for Ohio State, which shot 61 percent from the field and never looked back after breaking out to a 10-0 lead — with Williams scoring the first five.
Matta is pleased with his team heading into the Big Ten.
“I like the way we’re playing right now in terms of being unselfish and taking care of the ball,” he said. “I like where we are.”
Grant Benzinger had 12 points for Wright State (8-6), which has lost two in a row after a four-game winning streak.
QUOTE OF THE GAME
Wright State’s Donlan on Russell, who is averaging 17.7 points, 5 rebounds and 5 assists a game: “He is an absolute assassin out there.”
The Raiders didn’t follow their usual road procedure, electing to take a bus to the game late on Saturday afternoon and skipping a shootaround in the arena.
Maybe they should have practiced there. They shot just 20.6 percent (7 of 34) while falling behind 47-18 at the break, improving slightly in the second half to finish at 30.4 percent (21 of 69).
Wright State: The Raiders have not had much success on the national stage lately, but they did shake up the Big Ten — and the national rankings — almost exactly 15 years ago.
Michigan State (8-4), which did not have superlative point guard Mateen Cleaves that night (stress fracture in his foot), was ranked No. 8 when it played at Wright State’s Nutter Center on Dec. 30, 1999. The Raiders were just 3-8 coming in.
But, at least for one night, they played a flawless game. Marcus May hit two clinching free throws with 13 seconds remaining to stun the Spartans 53-49.
How big of an upset was it?
The Raiders finished 11-17 — 0-14 away and 11-3 at home.
And Michigan State went on to win the national championship.
Ohio State: There has been much criticism of Ohio State’s non-conference schedule, which has included games against UMass-Lowell, Sacred Heart, Campbell, High Point and North Carolina A&T. Matta likes an easy schedule in November and December so he can develop his younger players and build up their confidence to the start of conference play.
It’s hard to argue with the results. In Matta’s 10 previous years at Ohio State, the Buckeyes have won at least a share of the regular-season title five times and have played in the finals of the Big Ten tournament seven times, winning four.
Wright State: The Raiders open Horizon League play on Friday against Detroit.
Ohio State: The Buckeyes open at home with two games against I-schools: Iowa on Tuesday and Illinois on Jan. 3.
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.