Ohio State started its 2016-17 basketball season on Friday night at the US Naval Academy’s Alumni Hall in Annapolis, Maryland.
After a back-and-forth first half, the Buckeyes – thanks to their veteran presence – separated from the Midshipmen in the second half and knocked off Navy 78-68. Ohio State is now 1-0 on the year.
The Buckeyes fought early and Thad Matta’s group responded with an efficient and winning first performance of the year.
Ohio State came out of the gate firing – the Buckeyes shot just under 57 percent from the floor in the first half – led by junior Keita Bates-Diop who scored 14 points and pulled down four rebounds in the opening 20 minutes. After taking a 33-28 lead into the break, Navy pushed the Buckeyes early in the second half, outpacing Ohio State 7-2 to start the period and tying the game at 35.
From that point, both teams sputtered. Navy went five minutes without a field goal, while the Buckeyes slowly extended their lead. With 13 minutes left, Ohio State led by 10. Navy didn’t quit, but neither did the Buckeyes. Ohio State improved their shooting in the second half thanks to Kam Williams’ hot shooting: the Baltimore native 16 of his 23 points in the game’s second half.
What does it means for Ohio State?
It’s hard to get too invested into a season-opening game, but there are a number of reasons to be encouraged if you’re a Buckeyes fan. Ohio State stretched their bench despite the back-and-forth nature of the game; Thad Matta played 10 players in the first half. After a disappointing finish to the 2015-16 season, the Buckeyes got a big first win for 2016 in an unusual season-opening road game.
Ohio State did not play freshman Derek Funderburk, the only scholarship player on the Buckeyes roster not to get time on the court.
Who starred for the Buckeyes?
Ohio State was led, as you may have guessed, by Keita Bates-Diop, Kam Williams, Marc Loving and Trevor Thompson.
Those four Buckeyes veterans finished with 61 of the Buckeyes’ 78 points led by Williams’ 23. Overall, the Buckeyes shot 57.4 percent from the field in their season opener.
It’s a tough world we live in and in his first game as a Buckeye, freshman Micah Potter – who started in place of redshirt junior Trevor Thompson – contributed only 2 rebounds in 14 minutes of playing time. Ohio State also failed to get much of a contribution from sophomore point guard JaQuan Lyle, who played less minutes than JUCO transfer C.J. Jackson. Lyle was 1-3 from the floor for three points in only 13 minutes. Jackson played 27 minutes for the Buckeyes in his Ohio State debut.
What’s next for Thad Matta’s group?
Ohio State will head home and play its first home official home game of the season on Monday, Nov. 14 against North Carolina Central. The game will tip-off at 9 p.m ET.