COLUMBUS, Ohio – Junior E.J. Liddell scored a career-high 29 points as Ohio State pulled away from Niagara in the second half for an 84-74 victory on Friday night at Value City Arena.
Liddell was 9-of-15 from the floor, including 3-of-6 from long range and 8-of-12 from the free throw line. He also pulled down five rebounds and swatted four shots.
Zed Key scored in double-figures for the second consecutive game, finishing with 11 points and seven rebounds. Justice Sueing also finished with 10 points on 4-of-6 shooting.
Point guard Jamari Wheeler had a great night as well. He made two of his three three-point attempts, had six assists with zero turnovers and nabbed a pair of steals.
Freshmen Malaki Branham and Meechie Johnson Jr. each chipped in with seven points.
The Buckeyes shot 54 percent from the floor as q team and made 10 three-pointers. Niagara started hot, but the Buckeye defense limited the Purple Eagles to 37 percent shooting in the second half which allowed them to pull away.
The teams traded runs the entire first half. The Buckeyes used a 13-3 run to take its largest lead of 21-17. Niagara led by as much as six in the opening half and stayed close, trailing just 42-41 at the break.
The Buckeyes opened the second half on a 14-5 run, punctuated by back-to-back three-pointers from Branham and Justin Ahrens to build a 56-46 lead. Niagara wouldn’t get any closer than six points the rest of the way.
The Buckeyes will complete their opening homestand on Monday night when they host Bowling Green in the opening game of the Fort Myers Tip-off. The rest of the tournament will conclude on Nov. 22 and 24 in Fort Myers. Tip on Monday night will be at 6:30 p.m. and BTN will have the coverage.