COLUMBUS — In its one and only exhibition game of the preseason, No. 17 Ohio State blew past the Division II Indianapolis Greyhounds, 82-46, in Value City Arena on Monday evening.
Eugene Brown III led all scorers with 15 points, including a 3-4 effort from three, and four more Buckeyes recorded double-digit points. E.J. Liddell and Zed Key both fell a rebound short of double-doubles, each recording 12 points and nine rebounds in the win.
In the absence of regular starters Justice Sueing and Kyle Young, as well as another key contributor in Seth Towns, Ohio State head coach Chris Holtmann played nine different players in the first half and 12 players in the game overall. Included in the rotation was touted freshman Malaki Branham, who saw the floor early in the first half and went on to score 10 points in the first competitive minutes of his college career.
Ohio State jumped out to a quick 6-2 lead on a pair of three-pointers from Justin Ahrens and Meechie Johnson, and the Buckeyes were off and running.
A brief cold streak and a few turnovers allowed Indianapolis to hang around in the early going, and a three-pointer from Aaron Etherington had the Greyhounds within a point at 10-9 with 14 minutes remaining in the half.
A three-point play by Key on the ensuing possession sparked an 8-0 run by Ohio State that increased their lead to 18-9 minutes later, and the Buckeyes steadily built their lead from there.
Liddell’s three-point play late in the first half had Ohio State up by 14, their largest lead of the game, and a three-pointer from Brown in the closing seconds sent the Buckeyes into the break with a 41-25 advantage.
Key led Ohio State with 10 points and seven rebounds in the opening half, while Johnson added nine points. As a team, the Buckeyes shot 47% from the field in the opening 20 minutes.
A 21-3 run by Ohio State to begin the second half ballooned the lead to 62-28 just six minutes into the final period. Ahrens kickstarted the run with a corner three-pointer, his second of the game. Liddell and Branham got involved in the scoring barrage as well, adding three-pointers of their own as the Buckeyes began to pour it on.
The lead grew to as many 38 points late in the game when a three-pointer by Ohio State’s Cedric Russell had his team up 80-42 with less than two minutes to play as they salted away the remaining seconds.
Following the game, Holtmann said of his team, “We were able to see some different combinations tonight, as I mentioned. I thought that was probably the best thing … And we were able to see some of our young guys play together, put a uniform on, and I think some of them did some good things. They showed some glimpses.”
Holtmann said he felt his team’s effort and concentration “waned at times,” something he said will have to improve as Ohio State prepares to begin the season next week against the Akron Zips. Holtmann called Akron a “tremendous” team and one of the better mid-major teams in the country.
“We need to get better these next couple of days and prepare for them,” Holtmann said of the Zips.
Ohio State and Akron will tip off on Tuesday, Nov. 9, at 6 p.m. in Value City Arena.
Reach Dillon Davis at 740-413-0904. Follow him on Twitter @DillonDavis56.