Nov. 25, 2011

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COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) – William Buford scored 17 of his 25 points in the second half and No. 3 Ohio State routed Valparaiso 80-47 on Friday night.

Aaron Craft added 15 points and eight assists for the Buckeyes (6-0), who tuned up for a big home showdown against No. 6 Duke on Tuesday. Jared Sullinger had 14 points and 13 rebounds and Deshaun Thomas chipped in with 12 points.

Jay Harris led the Crusaders (5-2) with 18 points.

Buford had four points in Ohio State’s 19-2 surge right after the break, and the crowd used the final minute to serenade Michigan with derisive cheers ahead of their football game on Saturday.

Ohio State had just six turnovers and scored 24 points off of Valparaiso’s 18 miscues.

The Crusaders also shot just 34 percent from the field against Ohio State’s opportunistic defense. Kevin Van Wijk, a 6-foot-8 post from the Netherlands, came in averaging 17.8 points a game but was held scoreless with four fouls. No. 2 scorer Ryan Broekhoff was averaging 15.5 points and had just seven.

The game clearly tilted at the outset of the second half. The Buckeyes brought a four-point lead into the final 20 minutes, but they quickly asserted themselves at both ends of the floor.

The Crusaders had the ball first via alternate possession, but Craft came in out of nowhere to steal the ball out of Van Wijk’s hands when he was about to score on a backdoor pass. Sullinger then popped out for a 15-foot jumper and the Buckeyes were off and running.

Lenzelle Smith Jr. hit a 15-footer, then assisted on a Buford layup before Buford passed inside to Sullinger for another bucket. After Broeckhoff hit a driving layup to break the ice for the Crusaders, Buford came off a screen to hit an 18-footer to make it 43-31. Sullinger drilled a 3 from the left elbow – to the delight of the crowd – before Craft hit a fast-break layup and nailed a 3 from the right corner. Evan Ravenel’s free throw ended the surge, putting the Buckeyes up 52-31.

The lead never dropped below 15 points again.

Ohio State led 33-29 after a first half that was hard to figure.

The Buckeyes committed just one turnover and outscored the Crusaders 8-0 at the line, yet couldn’t pull away.

The biggest reason was the visitors were 5 of 12 from behind the arc to Ohio State’s 1 of 7, a 12-point edge in 3-point scoring.

Craft was more aggressive at the offensive end than he had been so far this season, scoring 10 points while squeezing off six shots from the field and at the line. He came in averaging around five field-goal attempts and five foul shots per game.

Harris, averaging 11.2 points a game, had 15 at the break, hitting 6 of 9 from the field, including half of his six attempts behind the arc.

The teams had split the previous meetings, the Crusaders winning 67-64 in the third-place game of the Great Alaska Shootout on Nov. 25, 2000. The Buckeyes beat Valparaiso 78-58 in Columbus on Dec. 2, 2006.

The Crusaders are in a stretch where they have just one game in 14 days, while Ohio State has played three times in five days and will have four in eight when it hosts the Blue Devils in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge.

Ohio State has won 28 straight home games.