The No. 18 Ohio State Buckeyes overcame a rough first half offensively to down the Cincinnati Bearcats, 64-56, in their season-opener and move to 1-0 on the season.
Kyle Young led the Buckeyes with his first career double-double, scoring 14 points and grabbing 13 rebounds, seven of which were on the offensive end.
Freshman D.J. Carton saw significant minutes —25 in all — in his first college basketball game and responded well, adding nine points and five rebounds.
Jarron Cumberland and Keith Williams led Cincinnati with 13 points each.
Both teams looked very much like they were playing in their first game of the season during the early going, offering up a brutal shooting display that, at times, looked as if the two teams were allergic to putting the ball in the basket.
Ohio State went scoreless through their first 10 possessions to start the game, a stretch that spanned nearly eight minutes.
Fortunately for Ohio State, Cincinnati was only slightly better on the offensive end to start the game, managing just six points over the opening seven minutes to give themselves a 6-0 lead with 12:56 to play in the first half.
Desperate for some source of scoring, Ohio State got a major lift from Young, whose hustle and toughness kept the Buckeyes in the game in the first half.
Young’s dunk with 12:20 to play ended the Buckeyes’ scoreless drought and cut Cincinnati’s lead to 6-2, drawing a loud and sarcastic cheer from the Buckeye faithful who were longing to see points.
Young added four more points to account for the Buckeyes’ first six points of the game and get them within two at 8-6 with 9:38 left in the first half.
A three-pointer by Andre Wesson gave Ohio State their first lead at 11-10 with 7:34 to play in the opening period, but Cincinnati would go on to close out the half on an 11-4 run over the final four minutes to take a 26-19 lead into the locker room.
Ohio State shot just 31 percent from the field in the first half, including only 1-9 from three and 0-5 from the free-throw line, while turning the ball over eight times. Cincinnati shot just 29 percent on 10-34 shooting and had six turnovers.
The pace picked up in the second half for Ohio State, who opened on an 11-3 run to take a 30-29 lead three minutes into the final period.
Kaleb Wesson, who faced constant double teams in the post and was largely held in check on the night, connected on his second three-pointer of the game to add to the run and push the Buckeyes’ lead to its largest margin of the game at four points with 13:17 left in the game.
Kaleb finished with eight points and 11 rebounds.
The lead got as large as nine points for the Buckeyes in the second half, and they appeared poised to put the game out of reach. Cincinnati refused to go away, however, and an 8-1 run by the Bearcats cut the Ohio State lead to just two points at 53-51 with 4:40 left in the game.
But as it had throughout the entire game, foul trouble plagued Cincinnati down the stretch, and Ohio State was able to salt the game away mostly from the free-throw line over the final few minutes.
The Buckeyes closed on a 9-3 run over the final 3:39, including 7-8 from the line, to stave off any chance of a late rally for Cincinnati.
With the win, Ohio State closed out the two-game home-and-home series with Cincinnati with a 2-0 record; Ohio State opened last season with an identical 64-56 win over the Bearcats in Cincinnati.
Both Ohio State head coach Chris Holtmann and Cincinnati head coach John Brannen have expressed interest in continuing the series into the future, but Holtmann has also expressed a desire to play other Ohio schools such as Xavier and Dayton as well.
Ohio State will return to action Sunday when they take UMass-Lowell in Value City Arena. Tipoff for that game is set for 4 p.m., and the game will be broadcasted on ESPNU.
Reach Dillon Davis at 740-413-0904. Follow him on Twitter @DillonDavis56.