Lighty and Buford score 13 points each for Ohio State at St. John Arena
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) – After all of those preseason practices, the Ohio State Buckeyes wanted to beat up on somebody else for a change.
Jeramie Simmons hit two 3-pointers in a 15-3 run at the outset and Ohio State never trailed in beating Delaware State 70-42 Thursday night in its season opener.
David Lighty and last year’s high school Mr. Basketball in Ohio, William Buford, each had 13 points. Simmons finished with 10.
“All of us out there have been playing together for 30-some practices so far,” said Lighty, the most experienced member of the team despite being just a junior. “When we get out there on the court, it’s time to let all of our anger out that we had on each other, to (take) it out on the other team. It’s all of us playing together.”
Power forward Dallas Lauderdale had seven blocked shots and scored seven points. He was a surprise starter in place of the premier incoming freshman recruit, 7-foot B.J. Mullens.
“I found out I was starting at the shootaround,” said Lauderdale, who played little last year as a freshman. “I wasn’t coming off the bench, I wasn’t feeding off whoever was starting in front of me. I had to come out ready.”
On one Hornets possession with 7 minutes remaining and the Buckeyes ahead 61-37, Lauderdale twice batted away shots.
Marcus Neal scored 14 points for Delaware State (1-4), coming off a 62-42 loss at Dayton on Wednesday night.
Coach Greg Jackson refused to use fatigue as an excuse.
“Ohio State had a lot to do with that,” he said of the game getting away early. “We knew we had to get off to a good start and they went up 15-3 and it was all uphill the rest of the night. We lost to a very good basketball team.”
The Buckeyes were on top 35-22 at the half with eight players scoring. Behind their trapping pressure, they led by at least 20 points for most of the second half.
“That was a step in the right direction,” Ohio State coach Thad Matta said. “We’ve got a long way to go.”
Buford scored nine of his 13 after halftime.
“I’m just here to help the team win, to do whatever I’ve got to do,” he said. “I feel the way I always felt. We’re like brothers, like a family we’re so close.”
The Hornets finished with 20 turnovers to Ohio State’s seven. The Buckeyes scored 18 points off turnovers.
The crowd began chanting anti-Michigan cheers with Ohio State in command in the final minutes. The 10th-ranked football Buckeyes play their archrivals from Michigan on Saturday.
The last time the Buckeyes had played in St. John Arena they beat California a year ago on the way to winning the National Invitation Tournament. Retooling without a senior on his roster, Matta has two starters back from a team that went 24-13.
Seven players were seeing their first action in an Ohio State uniform, including five freshmen.
“I thought they did a pretty good job … in their first go-round,” Matta said. “The thing that you want them to understand is we come in for practice tomorrow, we’ve got to continue to push the bar up and continue to demand (more) from them. This is one (game) and hopefully we’re going to play 30-some basketball games this year. We’ve got 34 practices in. We’re going to have over a hundred. (It’s) how much better can we get?”