Dec. 22, 2011

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COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) – William Buford scored 18 points and Aaron Craft dominated at both ends as No. 2 Ohio State started fast and never looked back to beat Miami of Ohio 69-40 on Thursday night.

Deshaun Thomas added 15 points and Jared Sullinger 11 for the Buckeyes (12-1), who won their 33rd straight at home. The game was played at Nationwide Arena, home of the NHL’s Blue Jackets. The building will host second- and third-round NCAA tournament games in March.

Julian Mavunga led the RedHawks (3-7) with 19 points and 10 rebounds.

Craft had just four points but set the tempo at both ends with eight assists, two steals, three rebounds and several other plays that led to points.

The Buckeyes ran off the first 11 points and never trailed.

On their first possession, Buford fed Sullinger with a bounce pass behind the defender for an easy layup and Ohio State was off and running. Buford hit a 3, Thomas scored on fast-break layup, Sullinger scored again on a short jumper and Buford was on the receiving end of Craft’s assist to make it 11-0.

The RedHawks were scoreless for the first 4:16, missing their first four shots with two turnovers.

After the Buckeyes hit five of their first six shots, they went into a malaise – missing 16 of the next 22.

They led 26-17 at halftime, a lead that was narrowed to just seven after Josh Sewell hit a layup for the RedHawks to open the second half.

But Ohio State sprinted away by scoring 15 of the next 17 points.

Craft was the ringleader, at one point stealing the ball from a Miami guard and going coast-to-coast for a layup. Another time he dived into cheerleaders to save a loose ball and flip it to Sullinger. Craft also assisted on three baskets in a span of a little more than 2 minutes.

All of a sudden the Buckeyes were up 43-23 and the lead was never again in doubt.

One of the loudest cheers of the night came when LaQuinton Ross, a highly touted recruit who sat out the start of the season while straightening out academic problems from high school, drilled a 3-pointer on his first possession in an Ohio State uniform.

Mavunga, the leading scorer and rebounder in the Mid-American Conference and one of just three players in the nation averaging more than 20 points and 10 rebounds a game, had eight of Miami’s 15 field goals. The RedHawks, playing their third game in six days, struggled most of the night on offense, hitting just 33 percent of their shots from the field and going 2 of 14 on 3-pointers.

The Buckeyes had just five turnovers and shot 45 percent from the field.

RedHawks coach Charlie Coles was denied his 350th career win. He is 349-294 in 22 seasons, six at Central Michigan and the last 16 at Miami, where he owns a 257-209 record.

Ohio State coach Thad Matta was an assistant on Coles’ staff at Miami in 1995 and 1997.

The Buckeyes improved to 11-0 in home games this season and 78-2 against non-conference opponents in Columbus under Matta.