COLUMBUS — Fresh off its third loss of the season this past weekend, Ohio State returned home and had little trouble in dispatching the hapless Maine Black Bears with a 95-61 beatdown on Wednesday evening in the Schottenstein Center.
Freshman guard Brice Sensabaugh, who was making his third consecutive start since Isaac Likekele took a leave of absence, tied for a game-high with 19 points and added six rebounds and six assists. Justice Sueing chipped in with 15 points, and Zed Key added 14 points to help Ohio State (8-3) to its eighth win of the season.
Freshman big man Felix Okpara contributed 10 points off the bench in his best performance of the season, and fellow freshman Bruce Thornton added 11 points.
Maine’s Kellen Tynes and Gedi Juzoapaitis combined for 35 points, but the Black Bears (6-6) were outscored 62-28 in the paint as Ohio State repeatedly found easy finishes at the rim en route to the blowout victory.
Ohio State controlled the opening tip and started the scoring with a three from Thornton to take an early 3-0 lead. Sueing made it 5-0 before a pair of Maine threes from Juozapaitis and Ja’Shonte Wright-Mcleish gave Ohio State its first and only deficit of the evening at 6-5.
A five-point stretch by Key recaptured the lead for Ohio State a minute later, and that lead would continue to grow for the remainder of the first half.
Key’s third dunk of the half increased the Ohio State lead to 22-13 with 13:26 remaining and gave Key 10 points for the game, forcing Maine to call a timeout.
Out of the timeout, Ohio State’s dominance in the paint continued with an alley-oop from Sensabaugh to Okpara following an offensive rebound as the Buckeyes built the first double-digit lead of the game at 26-15. The feed was the fourth assist of the half for Sensabaugh.
The lead grew to as many as 22 points over the remaining 10 minutes of the half as Ohio State cruised into halftime with a 47-26 lead.
Ohio State held a 36-10 advantage over Maine in the paint, as well as a 25-13 rebound advantage, in the opening 20 minutes. In addition to Key’s 10 points, Sensabaugh added nine first-half points, and Sueing and Okpara each had eight points.
Maine shot just 32% in the first half, including a 4-16 effort from three, to find itself in the massive hole heading into the final period.
Ohio State picked up right where it left off to begin the second half. Baskets by Key and Sensabaugh increased the lead to 51-26, and Sensabaugh capped a quick 7-0 run with his second three of the game to put Ohio State ahead by 28.
The lead hovered around 25 points for most of the second half before Sensabaugh’s three gave Ohio State an 83-52 advantage with less than five minutes remaining in the game. Following the basket, Ohio State head coach Chris Holtmann called a timeout to empty his bench as the reserves played out the final minutes of action.
Following the game, Holtmann said of his team’s performance, “I thought our guys made shots and were able to attack their zone effectively. They defended in spurts pretty good and took care of the ball. The guys need a couple days of break here before we head back for our final nonconference (game) and, obviously, into the Big Ten slate.”
Ohio State returns to action on Dec. 29 when it hosts Alabama A&M in the final nonconference contest of the season before Big Ten play begins.
Reach Dillon Davis at 740-413-0904. Follow him on Twitter @DillonDavis56.