CLEVELAND (AP) – Close to home, Ohio State lived up to its No. 1 billing.
William Buford scored 18 points, freshman Jared Sullinger added 11 before getting some extended rest, and Ohio State looked every inch the part of a No. 1 overall seed in rolling to a 75-46 win over Texas-San Antonio in the second round of the NCAA tournament Friday.
Playing a two-hour drive from their Columbus campus, the Buckeyes (33-2) were cheered on by more than 15,000 fans, who made Quicken Loans Arena feel just like home. Ohio State built a 16-point halftime lead, ballooned it to 38 in the second half and were never threatened by the No. 16 seed Roadrunners (20-14).
The blowout allowed Ohio State coach Thad Matta to rest his starters for Sunday’s East region matchup with George Mason, a 61-57 winner over Villanova.
Devin Gibson scored 24 to lead UTSA, which beat Alabama State on Wednesday night for the right to face the powerful Buckeyes, who are seeking their first national title since 1960.
Melvin Johnson III scored just five after getting a career-high 29 in UTSA’s opening-round win.
Matta warned his players about what could happen if they weren’t careful.
In 1996 he was an assistant for No. 16 seed Western Carolina, which came within a missed last-second shot of stunning No. 1 seed Purdue in the tourney. Matta didn’t want the Buckeyes, as loose a group as you’ll find, to be overconfident against an inferior opponent.
Ohio State’s win makes No. 1 seeds 107-0 against No. 16s since the tournament expanded to 64 teams in 1985.
With 12:12 remaining and the Buckeyes ahead by 23, Matta pulled Sullinger, who added nine rebounds in his NCAA tourney debut. Moments later, the fab frosh was joined on the sideline by seniors David Lighty, Buford and Jon Diebler, who made four 3-pointers and scored 14.
In the closing minutes, Matta cleared his bench, even giving senior walk-on and OSU fan favorite Eddie Days some minutes.
UTSA’s strategy was to slow the game to a crawl. This group of Roadrunners had no intention of going ”beep-beep” and taking off.
Coach Brooks Thompson was content to have senior point guard Devin Gibson dribble the ball deep into the 35-second shot clock on each possession before heading toward the basket. It worked for a few minutes, and when Ohio State freshman guard Aaron Craft picked up his second foul – on a reach that upset Matta – UTSA’s plan seemed to have some merit.
But the Roadrunners began missing shots and the Buckeyes got hot – ridiculously hot.
Diebler, the Big Ten’s career leader in 3-pointers, buried two long ones and Buford hit another as Ohio State went on an 18-4 run to open a 23-13 lead. Gibson and Stephen Franklin shook free for layups to keep the Roadrunners within striking distance, but that’s when the Buckeyes began pounding the ball down low to Sullinger, their 280-pound wide body.
Thompson promised to ”throw the kitchen sink” at Sullinger, but the Roadrunners didn’t have anyone capable of slowing Ohio State’s bulky big man.
Sullinger muscled in for consecutive buckets, and when Diebler drilled a 3-pointer from just inside the Cuyahoga County line, the Buckeyes were up 36-19. On UTSA’s bench, Thompson dropped his head in resignation. This was what he was afraid might happen.
Johnson, who lit up Alabama State for 25 first-half points in Dayton, was held to three on 1-of-6 shooting in the opening 20 minutes.
The Roadrunners knew it would take a perfect game, or one very close to flawless, to pull off an upset of historic proportions.
Showing no fear, UTSA started strong, making four of its first five shots, and reached the first TV timeout leading 9-7. The few dozen supporters wearing blue and orange were high-fiving, with a few raising their eyebrows as if surprised by the early lead.
It didn’t last.
Noting the UTSA Game:
Ohio State 75, UTSA 46 (March 18)
- Ohio State is 9-7 in NCAA tournament play while playing in the East Region. Ohio State is 11-3 as the No. 1 seed. The 29 point margin of victory is the largest in OSU history in NCAA tournament play. Thad Matta is 16-8 in NCAA tournament play over his 11-year coaching career. He is 9-4 as a Buckeye in NCAA play.
- Ohio State has won at least one game in NCAA Tournament play in 21 of 23 years in which it has appeared.
- Ohio State handed out 26 assists on 29 total field goals in the win. The assist total is an Ohio State NCAA tournament record. The previous high was 21, three times, last vs. St. John’s 3/20/99.
- Ohio State assisted on 26 of its 29 made field goals (89.7 pct) against UT-San Antonio, the highest assist percentage by a team in a NCAA Tournament game in the last 15 years (min 20 FG). It’s also the highest by Ohio State in any game in the last 15 years.
- Four Buckeyes had five or more assists in the game with Aaron Craft leading the way with seven helpers. David Lighty, Jon Diebler and William Buford each had five assists apiece. Craft has handed out seven or more assists nine times this season.
- The Buckeyes’ 33-2 overall record is the second-best start in school history (1960-61, 27-0). The win total also is second to the 35 wins recorded in 2007.
- As a ranked team, Ohio State is 394-107 all-time.
- Ohio State has now won eight games in a row.
- Ohio State improves to 71-5 when ranked No. 1 by the Associated Press and 23-3 as the nation’s top team in the coaches poll.
- Ohio State moves to 1-0 against Texas-San Antonio and 4-0 vs. members of the Southland Conference all-time.
- The Buckeyes are 131-19 when ranked among the Top 3 in the country.
- When ranked in the Top 10 nationally, Ohio State is 273-58 with wins in 64 of its last 69 outings.
- Ohio State is 48-4 in its last 52 games.
- Ohio State has won 85 games since the beginning of the 2008-09 season, tied for the fourth-best in the nation over that stretch with Pittsburgh.
- This is the 260th-consecutive game Ohio State has made at least one 3-point field goal (1/10/04 vs. Penn State was the last game with zero made).
- Ohio State’s four returning starters for 2010-11 (Jon Diebler, David Lighty, Dallas Lauderdale and William Buford) have combined for 432 career starts and 537 games played.
- Thad Matta teams own four of the top eight single season win totals in Ohio State history.
- The 33-2 record to begin the season is the best start for Thad Matta at Ohio State (previous best was in 2005-06, when the team began 11-0).
- This season is the seventh-consecutive year Matta has guided the Buckeyes to a 20-win campaign. That extends the longest streak in Ohio State history.
- Matta has won at least 20 games in each of his 11 seasons as a head coach. Only Mark Few (Gonzaga), among active coaches, has more consecutive 20-win seasons to start a career.
- Matta’s career record now stands at 291-87 overall and 189-56 at Ohio State.
- With the win, Ohio State is 37-19 in March under Matta and 6-0 this season.
- Matta is 91-17 vs. non-conference competition at Ohio State and 98-39 vs. Big Ten foes (regular season and Big Ten tournament games) for an overall record of 189-56.
- Ohio State remains undefeated at 33-0 this season and 174-5 under Matta when leading with five minutes to play.
- When shooting better than the opponent, Ohio State improves to 25-1 this season and 166-18 under Matta.
- The Buckeyes are 27-1 this season and 157-20 under Matta when leading at the half.
- Ohio State outrebounded UTSA 35-26, Ohio State improves to 22-2 on the year and 110-16 under Matta when grabbing more boards than its opponent.
- The Buckeyes improve to 31-1 this season and 159-44 when committing under 15 total turnovers (Ohio State had 13 turnovers vs. UTSA).
- With 75 points, the Buckeyes are 23-0 this season and 127-11 under Matta when scoring more than 70 total points in a game.
- The Buckeyes are 18-1 this season and 94-7 under Matta when shooting better than 50 percent from the field.
- First-Team All-Big Ten Jared Sullinger finished the contest with 11 points. Sullinger has scored at least 10 points in 31 of 35 games.
- With 11 points, Sullinger, just the 29th Buckeye all-time to score more than 500 points in a season, has 596 on his rookie campaign. Kosta Koufos is the last freshman to reach 500 points in a rookie season with 534 in 2008-09. Evan Turner and William Buford each scored more than 500 points last season.
- Sullinger also added a team-high nine rebounds for the Buckeyes (his 10.1 average is second in the Big Ten). He now has 353 rebounds on the season.
- Sullinger is second in scoring during a freshman season at Ohio State. Michael Redd is first with 658 points in 1998.
- Sullinger 353 rebounds are the most by a freshman at Ohio State.
- Jon Diebler’s current 3-point field goal percentage of 50 percent (106-212) puts him in the record books as having the best single season 3-point percentage.
- Diebler’s 50 percent shooting percentage from 3-point range is No. 1 in the Big Ten.
- With four made 3-pointers, Diebler extends his streak to 51 games in a row with at least one 3-pointer made.
- With 14 points against UTSA, Diebler now has 1,507 career points passing Troy Taylor (1,497) for 16th-place in career scoring. Evan Turner is 15th with 1,517 career points
- The game marked the 24th time this season Diebler has scored in double-figures.
- The game vs. UTSA was Diebler’s 142nd game donning the Scarlet and Gray, good for second all-time at Ohio State.
- David Lighty, the third player in Ohio State history to reach 1,000 points, 500 rebounds and 300 assists, ended the contest with eight points, one rebound and five assists. Lighty’s current marks: 1,421 points, 571 rebounds and 367 assists.
- With eight points, Lighty now has 1,421 for his career, 21st-place in career scoring at Ohio State. Paul Ebert is 20th with 1,436.
- Lighty has now been a part of 128 Buckeye victories during his tenure in Columbus (Lighty had 35 wins as a freshman, 24 as a sophomore and 29 as a junior in 2009-10. He is credited with seven wins at the start of the 2008-09 season, which ended when he broke his right foot and earned a medical redshirt). The previous record was set by Danny Peters and Mark Titus (both played from 2007-10), earning 110 wins apiece.
- Lighty has played in 155 games as a Buckeye, the most all-time in an Ohio State uniform. Lighty also leads all NCAA active players in games played.
- The game vs. UTSA marked senior David Lighty’s 123rd career start for Ohio State, tied with Ken Johnson (123, 1998-01) for third all-time as a Buckeye.
- Junior guard William Buford had a team-high 18 points. His career total now stands at 1,397, passing Brian Brown (1,397) for 23rd place. Larry Bolden is 22nd with 1,408.
- The 18 point-performance for Buford is the 27th time this season he has scored in double-figures, second-most on the team.
- Aaron Craft had seven assists. He now has 160 assists on the season to just 76 turnovers. Craft averages 4.6 assists per game, leading all league freshmen.
- Craft also had one steal for 67 total on the season (his 1.9 average per game is first in the Big Ten), leading all league freshman.
- Craft is now in second place in steals by a freshman in Ohio State history.