In each of its first two games this season, the Ohio State Buckeyes had to overcome poor offensive starts en route to wins.
On Wednesday night, with No. 10 Villanova in the building, Ohio State had no such issues.
Led by an efficient and balanced offensive attack, Ohio State crushed the visiting Wildcats, 76-51, to move to 3-0 on the season.
Five Buckeyes scored double digits, led by Duane Washington Jr.’s 14 points, and all Buckeyes who played at least two minutes scored eight points or more.
Ohio State came out red-hot to open the game, connecting on three-pointers on each of their first three possessions to jump out to a quick 9-0 lead. Duane Washington Jr. had two and C.J. Walker had one.
Villanova got on the board with a three-pointer by Jeremiah Robinson-Earl to cut the Ohio State lead to 9-3, but the Buckeyes responded with a 10-run to push their lead to 19-3 less than five minutes into the game.
The first-half lead would grow to as large as 27 points for Ohio State, who ended the half shooting just under 54 percent, including going 6-10 from three.
A 9-0 run by Villanova just before halftime cut the Ohio State lead to 40-22 as the teams headed to the locker room and gave the Wildcats some semblance of momentum after a dreadful first-half performance.
Washington led the Buckeyes with 11 first-half points, and Walker added 10.
The halftime break did nothing to cool Ohio State in the second half, and they wasted no time reasserting their control on the game following Villanova’s strong close to the first half.
Kyle Young got an easy dunk on Ohio State’s first possession of the second half, and he added another bucket on the next trip down to increase the lead to 44-22.
An 8-0 run at the 10:37 mark of the second half, including six points from D.J. Carton, upped the Ohio State lead to 62-32 and officially turned the contest into a laugher as the Buckeyes cruised down the stretch to the dominant win.
Ohio State finished the game shooting 60 percent from the field and 56 percent from three, while holding Villanova to just 30.6 percent shooting. It is the third straight game where Ohio State has held the opposing team to less than 35 percent shooting.
Following the game, Ohio State head coach Chris Holtmann said of his team’s performance, ”Players win games … Our players’ preparation and their play was the reason for tonight’s win. Across the board, they were really ready for tonight’s game.”
Holtmann said that after his team’s great start to the game, his focus was on not overcoaching and getting in the way of the team’s rhythm.
“I think we have more capability and more versatility in some ways that we were lacking last year,” he said of what he likes about his team. “Kaleb Wesson is playing as good as I’ve ever seen him play … when you have a player playing as well as he is playing, it elevates other people’s play as well.”
Asked how he might try to manage expectations moving forward after a signature win this early in the season, Holtmann said he shouldn’t have to manage anything for the ones who understand basketball and the ups and downs of a long college basketball season.
“Our players earned this tonight … But there’s a lot between now and March,” Holtmann said, later adding there is still a lot still to learn with his team, particularly in how they respond when games don’t go as well as they did tonight.
The Buckeyes will return to the floor next Monday when they host Stetson at 8:30 p.m.
Reach Dillon Davis at 740-413-0904. Follow him on Twitter @DillonDavis56.