Buckeyes Overwhelm Western Michigan, Cruise to 3-1

The Buckeyes built a big lead early and cruised past visiting Western Michigan 73-56 in the campus game of the Emerald Coast Classic.  The win improved the Ohio State record to 3-1, dropping the Broncos to 0-4. The Buckeyes put five in double figures, led by 13 each by Roddy Gayle and Jamison Battle, with Bruce Thornton adding 12 and Zed Key and Dale Bonner each adding 11. Felix Okpara put together an excellent floor game, adding 6 points, 11 rebounds to go along with 4 blocks. Western Michigan was led by Seth Hubbard’s 24 as the only Bronco in double figures. The Buckeyes held the Broncos to just 37% shooting, while hitting 47% themselves, including 40% from long range.

Ohio State got off to a fast start, leading 7-2 after 3 minutes thanks to a triple each by Jamison Battle and Bruce Thornton along with a Felix Okpara free throw.  A pair of Bronco hoops sandwiched a Roddy Gayle transition layup had the Buckeyes up 3, but right before the first media break, Battle scored at the rim through a foul and with Jamison due to go to the stripe after the timeout, the teams hit their respective benches with the Buckeyes ahead 11-6. Battle missed the 3 point opportunity but Zed Key jumped a passing lane and went uncontested the other way and finished with a dunk. Gayle drilled a high arcing shot from the head of the key and the Buckeyes were up 10. After a Bronco triple cut the lead to 7, Key hit a wide open three from the top and after the Broncos threw away the inbounds pass, the teams adjourned to their benches for the required under 12 media timeout and Ohio State leading 19-9. Dale Bonner drilled a triple from the right wing and after a Western Michigan turnover, Scotty Middleton came off a screen and hit a 15 foot jumper from the right baseline. The lead extended with another Bonner three forcing Western Michigan to call a timeout with 9:41 to play and Ohio State leading 27-9. Thornton drilled a triple from the top to extend the lead and increased the Buckeye run to 14-0. The Broncos hit a runner to stop the run and at the under 8 timeout, Ohio State was on top 30-11. Back to back Bronco buckets gave Western Michigan a 6-0 run to cut into the Buckeye lead, but Gayle put the ball on the deck and got to the rim along the left baseline and flushed it home to end the run. Battle drilled a triple from the top to extend the lead and on the other end, Thornton came up with a steal and led a break down the floor and fed Gayle streaking down the right side and Roddy elevated and electrified the crowd with a dunk forcing Western Michigan to call timeout with 3:47 to play in the first 20 minutes and Ohio State leading 37-15. The Broncos came out of the timeout with an excellent offensive set that resulted in a three, but on the other end, Battle found a cutting Evan Mahaffey along the right baseline for a reverse lay-in. Ohio State took their use it or lose it timeout with 57 seconds to play leading 41-18 and enter sophomore sharp shooter Bowen Hardman. The Buckeyes failed to convert their offensive opportunity and the Broncos drilled a three on their end and while the shot was in the air, Middleton was whistled for a foul, giving the ball back to the Broncos but fortunately for the Buckeyes, their last second jump shot fell off target and at the half, Ohio State led 41-21. The Buckeyes were very efficient in the first 20 minutes, assisting on 10 of 15 made field goals, hitting 52% of their attempts, including a blistering 8 of 15 from beyond the arc and holding Western Michigan to just 30 % shooting. The Buckeyes turned it over just 3 times, forcing 7 and out scoring the Broncos 14-2 in points off those turnovers. Roddy Gayle led the Buckeyes in the first half with 9, while Jamison Battle added 8 and Zed Key had 7.

 Western Michigan opened the second half on a 5-2 run as a triple and a runner fell and in between, Battle hit a turnaround jumper at the foul line. The Buckeyes would proceed to go on a 12-2 run leading into the first media timeout. An Okpara lay in and a free throw followed by a Thornton pull up extended the lead and after Mahaffey picked off a Bronco pass and lobbed to Gayle for a lay up in transition, the Buckeyes were rolling. A pair of Bronco free throws was followed by a Gayle rebound and put back, a Battle transition triple from the right point capped the run and at the aforementioned timeout, Ohio State was enjoying a 55-28 lead, More Buckeyes out of the timeout as Thornton got to the rim on the left for a lay in and Key followed with a short jump hook in the middle of the lane. The Broncos chipped away at the lead a little, going on a 7-2 run with the Buckeye loan score coming from a Bonner runner, but after Key drop stepped and scored from the right block, Okpara tipped in a Bonner miss in transition forcing Western Michigan to call a timeout with 11:39 to play and Ohio State leading 65-35. Out of the timeout, Western Michigan scored in the paint, but Ohio State answered with a Bonner triple from the right corner. The Broncos scored the next six and at the under 8 media timeout, Western Michigan was cutting into the lead, but the Buckeyes were still cruising, leading 68-43. The Bronco run extended to 10-0 before the Buckeyes finally got back on the scoreboard as Thornton hit a short jumper in the paint. Maffahey split a pair of free throws to extend the lead and at the final media timeout of the game, Ohio State led 71-47. A 5-0 WM run was stopped when Devin Royal hit a runner left of the lane. The Broncos scored the final four of the game to complete the scoring in the Buckeye win. 

This one wasn’t going to be much of a challenge for Ohio State from the jump, but they did what you’re supposed to do against an over matched team and did a lot of good things on this day with a final score that wasn’t as close as the score indicated. The Buckeyes were extremely efficient on both ends of the floor, creating turnovers, locking down on shooters and sharing the basketball offensively at a high level, assisting on 15 of their 29 made shots and out scoring the Broncos 28-18 in the painted area. Ohio State was able to get out in transition due to their defense, scoring 10 off the fast break, while not allowing Western Michigan to score off the fast break. It should be a nice confidence builder specifically for the shooters as they move forward to play better competition. Unfortunately, on the down side, Ohio State missed on 6 of their 11 free throw attempts and they will need to clean that up to win close games. But, on this day, they outmatched their opponent from the start, building a lead as large as 31, leading for all 40 minutes for the second straight outing, cruising to the win. 

The Buckeyes take the floor again on Friday evening, taking on 22nd ranked Alabama, as they continue the Emerald Coast Classic in Destin, FL on the campus of Northwest Florida State. The game is scheduled to tip at 7PM and airing on CBS Sports Network. 

-Jason Harris

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