Ohio Stated started fast and never relented Tuesday night against Grambling State, pummeling the Tigers 82-55 Tuesday night to move to 2-0 on the season. Kam Williams was the star of the night, scoring 22 points, which was one short of his career-high. Williams added five rebounds, four steals, and two assists.
Keita Bates-Diop added 14 points and eight rebounds, while Marc Loving tallied 14 points and five boards. Grambling State, ranked dead last out of 351 Division I teams in Ken Pomeroy's efficiency rankings entering the game, dropped to 1-2.
The Buckeyes were out in front 44-20 at intermission. Bates-Diop paced all scorers with 12 points. Loving and Williams added 10 points, with Williams contributing four rebounds and three steals.
Ohio State's overwhelming size and talent advantages paid dividends early, as a grabby Grambling State outfit reached six team fouls at the 16-minute, 10-second mark. Consecutive 3-pointers by Jae'Sean State, Bates-Diop, and Loving pushed the hosts ahead 17-9 a little over six minutes into the game. The Buckeyes' advantage reached 20 on an A.J. Harris triple with 7:50 left in the half. Ohio State shot 54 percent in the first half, compared to just 29 percent for Grambling State. Both teams struggled with on and off-ball discipline, combining for 21 turnovers and 25 fouls.
Powered by three early slams by Trevor Thompson, the Buckeyes' lead stretched to 29 by the under-16 TV timeout. After mini-run by the Tigers halfway through the second stanza, Williams scored eight straight points to restore order.
Jake Lorbach and Mickey Mitchell were the only players on the roster not to see action for Ohio State. The Buckeyes take the floor again Friday at 7 p.m. against visiting Texas-Arlington.
3 things to know
1. Kam Williams and A.J. Harris are entertaining as hell. Williams was the first guard off the bench for the second game in a row and delivered his best all-around game as a Buckeye. Harris played 10 first-half minutes in relief of a foul-plauged JaQuan Lyle and was impressive on both ends.
Williams' trick-or-treat nature was on display in the first half. On one occasion, the redshirt sophomore pulled up for a poorly-taken transition triple. Williams missed, but collected the rebound, and converted an and-1. Later in the half, Williams ventured into the paint, missed his initial shot, out-leapt two Tigers with a quick-twitch second jump to grab the rebound and put in a floater. Williams capped off his night with a putback dunk midway through the second half.
As for Harris, at times it seemed as if the freshman point guard was shot out of a cannon, speeding past anyone in his wake with the ball in his hands. Williams and Harris teamed to cause absolute hell for the Grambling guards with inspired on-ball defense.
2. Keita Bates-Diop and Marc Loving are off to hot starts. Both players reached double figures again after recording their first career double-doubles in the opener against Mount St. Mary's. Bates-Diop's offensive repertoire has visibly grown since last season, as he showcased an off-the-ball game that was absent in 2014-15. Loving was solid once again, boasting a confidence that waned and waxed last winter.
3. Turnovers will likely be a year-long issue. After turning the ball over 18 times in the opener, the Buckeyes registered 17 turnovers Tuesday evening. Lyle was occasionally sloppy with the ball again vs. the Tigers, who were very active with their hands, especially when the Ohio State players brought the ball below their waists. Bet on some big turnover totals by a young Buckeye squad against quality competition this season.